- Whatever you think of BoJo, we mustn’t normalise smear tactics and tabloid nonsense
Three days ago the police were called round to the flat shared by perspective Tory leader, and likely future Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
There had apparently been reports of a loud argument, banging and yelling etc. The police talked to both the people present and then left. No one was detained, charged, cautioned. Legally speaking, there was no incident. It would not warrant a mention most of the time.
However, the same neighbours who called the police also recorded the argument and sent the recording to The Guardian.
The Guardian, who have all the class of the Daily Mail, but none of the honesty, duly published it. Red banner. Shrieking tabloid headline. At least The Sun admits what it is.
And so we have Borisgate, or rather #BorisGate.
Boris refused to answer questions about the incident the next day, and Jeremy Hunt has been piling on the pressure to produce “an explanation”. Apparently “we had a row, it’s none of your business” isn’t enough of an explanation.
Hunt’s obsession with this topic is understandable, he’s massively trailing in the leadership contest and needs all the ammunition he can get his hands on.
However, the media circus around this situation is most unusual. It is all the media want to talk about. Some papers are attacking Johnson and demanding an explanation, some are attacking his neighbours as “leftists”. The Sun is…being The Sun.
There have even been accusations of “domestic violence”, despite the fact there was – as far as we can determine – no indication of any such thing. Not from the police who were there, or from any of the people involved.
We haven’t been able to track down the audio, all we have are reported quotes in the press, and there’s very little to go on there. “Get off me” is the most contentious phrase quoted and, without context, it could mean anything.
Framing that as “domestic violence” is premature, at best.
Factual accuracy matters – even when it contradicts your personal preferences and political loyalties. There is nothing here to suggest domestic violence, and nothing good will come from saying there is.
However that didn’t stop the predictable names on twitter jumping to conclusions and fuelling the controversy.
Labour MP Jess Philips Calls Out Boris Johnson Over Police Row https://t.co/cVWzOoXMP5
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) June 23, 2019
Even the editor of The Canary (who really should know better) took part:
The establishment press is attacking Boris Johnson’s neighbours for reporting suspected domestic violence to police.
This is an escalation in a near 4yr media assault on the left.
It’s no good whining now Centrists. You got us here by legitimising this whole smear campaign.
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) June 23, 2019
All of this over an “incident” that was totally meaningless. No police detention. No arrests, charges or cautions or even a sign of violence.
This is a fake scandal. Whether it was created, or simply seized upon, by the media and various “liberal” influencers on social media I don’t know. But whatever you think about Boris Johnson, his personality or his politics, this is deeply inappropriate. We’re meant to be better than this.
Is that the politics we want? A system where people are secretly recorded during their private, unflattering moments and then held up to public ridicule and censure?
Leftists who say “yes” to that question need to be careful. What’s good for Boris is good for Corbyn, we already got a taste of that during the “stupid woman” farce.
Accept this with Johnson, and in the run-up to the next General Election Tory supporters, tabloid journalists, and every other anti-Labour force will be crowding around Corbyn’s house with microphones pressed to the walls. Nobody is perfect, Corbyn will probably slip at some point.
…and even if he doesn’t, there’s no reason to assume the forces opposed to Corbyn would be bound by reality, or in any way limited to what actually happened. We already know that’s not the case.
In a world where video editing can make Nancy Pelosi appear to drunkenly slur her words, a muffled audio recording of Corbyn having an argument, saying something vulgar, offensive or (let’s play the odds here) antisemitic could be knocked up in an afternoon.
When we endorse smear tactics and media witchhunts, we make it acceptable that these tools be used against us as well as them. Do unto others…etc.
These “scandals” will create a future where we won’t debate the issues, we’ll just try and out smear each other.
And that’s even assuming that everything here is as it seems.
This scandal breaking just days before Johnson is expected to become Prime Minister is odd timing, especially when it comes hot on the heels of ex-MI6 man (and media favourite) Rory Stewart getting kicked out of the race.
The neighbours calling the police isn’t strange of itself, but recording the row is. And then they sent it to The Guardian, the Deep States mouthpiece and paper of record.
The Guardian ran their “exclusive” within a few hours (not including the recorded audio, only referencing alleged quotes, the actual audio is apparently hard to get hold of).
It’s unquestionably a roll-out, the only uncertainty it’s whether opportunistically seized upon, or cynically created.
The mainstream media don’t report things because they’re true, they don’t talk about them because they’re important and they don’t write articles because “the public need to know”. The MSM only report things that serve an agenda, true or false, real or imaginary. The narrative matters, the facts don’t.
That said, “BorisGate” is an indication that the UK Deep State has some internal rift, and that some powerful interest is very much against Johnson becoming Prime Minister. (That’s been obvious since the sudden emergence of Rory Stewart, a candidate who appeared from nowhere, has an intelligence background, and had all kinds of undeserved praise heaped on him by the BBC and everyone else).
But that is analysis for a different time – In the end, it doesn’t really matter what sits at the root of “BorisGate”. The important question is: shouldn’t we be better than this?
Isn’t the point of civilised political debate to discuss issues on an intellectual level, not hurl smears and dirt at each other? To be calm and collected, rather than emotionally manipulative and sentimental?
Either this is a genuine situation, an establishment mouthpiece paper running an hysterical story supplied to them by prying neighbours – OR it’s a Deep State psy-op hoping to influence politics
Either way, it’s nothing we should tolerate, let alone celebrate.