Clark Vasey was the Conservative Candidate for Birkenhead in the 2015 General Election, and is a founder of Blue Collar Conservatism.
Labour’s descent into civil war has exposed an ugly seam in British politics for all to see – the political thuggery of the Hard lLeft. To those of us used to taking on the Left this is nothing new, but the public and the media are now waking up the nasty reality of the ‘new kind of politics’.
For those in Labour, the bullying nature of the hard left is nothing new; what is new for them is that it is now directed at them. The recent vandalism and intimidation at Angela Eagle’s office is absolutely wrong and must be condemned. This kind of behaviour has no place in British politics, and we must condemn it from whatever quarter it comes, and no matter who it is directed against. It’s the duty of all of us to call it out and ensure it has no place in our public discourse.
Eagle has rightly condemned the vandalism, and makes the important point that her constituency staff should not have to work in that environment. She was right when she said: “It is bullying and it should stop.” However, this kind of leftist thuggery is nothing new on Merseyside, and I am afraid that neither Angela Eagle nor Labour were so quick to condemn when it was not them but their political opponents on the receiving end.]
In 2015, I was the Conservative candidate for the Wirral seat of Birkenhead, neighbouring both Angela Eagle’s Wallasey and Wirral West, – the seat which saw probably the nastiest, most personalised campaign of the General Election. I have to say that my opponent Frank Field is no stranger to the bullying of the Left and has long called them out for it. However, when my neighbouring candidate in Wirral West, Esther McVey, was on the receiving end of a sustained campaign of abuse, downright bullying and repeated vandalism, Labour hardly went out of its way to condemn it. Indeed, I tweeted repeatedly at Wirral Labour asking them to do so; now more than a year on I still haven’t had a reply.
During the campaign, the Conservative office was attacked by vandals and extra security had to be added. The Hoylake Job Centre was targeted more than once, and daubed with ‘McVey Murderer’ – and there was more than the usual level vandalism of Conservative posters and signs. There was a sustained campaign of fly posting with witch-like pictures of Esther on public and private property. The kind of abuse Esther received on Twitter shut down that social media element of her campaign. The hatred directed at Esther was like nothing I have seen in 18 years of political activism. To her absolute credit, she continued with a positive campaign, and did her best to ignore the sustained campaign against her being waged by faceless cowards.
Now let me be clear, Labour was not responsible for the bullying and illegal activities described above. I will repeat that so there is no doubt: I do not personally know who was responsible, but I am not accusing anyone in Labour of orchestrating any illegal activity.
What I am criticising Labour and Eagle, as the most senior figure in Wirral Labour, for is not calling this behaviour out and condemning it as something which has no place in British politics. Labour on Merseyside read the same newspapers and followed the same campaign as closely as I did, so there can be no doubt that they knew this behaviour from part of the Left was going on. Yet they failed to adequately condemn it. Indeed, Labour set much of the personalised negative tone of the campaign.
Eagle did not make the same fuss as she has recently when the female candidate next door to her was subjected to sustained sexism – no matter that she was in a different party. Where was Labour’s condemnation of the ‘protest song’, the ‘Wicked Witch of the Wirral’? Neither Labour’s candidate for Wirral or Eagle made much of stamping out political bullying during the general election.
I hope that I am wrong, as I know many decent Labour people, but I am left with the impression that too many in Labour were happy to turn a blind eye to left-wing bullying if it is directed at a Conservative. Especially Tory women. Indeed Esther, a Northern woman who had the audacity to be a Conservative has attracted so much abuse. Who can forget John McDonnell talking about “lynching the bastard”? Had a male Conservative politician made those comments about a female Labour politician I doubt he would still have had the whip by the end of the day.
Rather than rallying to the side of a fellow candidate, no matter of what party, who was up against some pretty nasty behaviour, Labour instead ran a deeply personal campaign. Against this backdrop, Labour’s successful campaign which saw them take Wirral West was personalised and negative. The ‘Two Faced Esther McVey’ attack leaflet during the campaign was topped only by a final two-sided card leaflet which went through doors in the days prior.
On one side it indicated that Labour would put the NHS first and that Esther would put her career first. Then on the other side, the message was ‘we can’t have another five years of Esther McVey’. Not ‘we can’t have another five years of the Tories’, but five years of an individual who voters were told would put her career first without any evidence being provided to back up the claim. Pointing out the flaws of other party’s platforms is part of campaigning, but this was not that. It was deeply personal, and in tune with the feeling of negativity directed at Esther which was swirling around Wirral West at the time.
After my experiences of the Left on Merseyside, I agree with Eagle’s comments that there is “a lot of hate”, but I am afraid that Labour has ignored this beast for too long. As long as it was savaging the Conservatives, few in Labour went out of their way to condemn it, and are only now calling it out when it has turned on them.
From her Wirral vantage point, Eagle must have been well aware of the bullying elements of the Left. What does it say about Labour when their ‘saviour’ from Corbyn only calls out wrongdoing when it is in her interest to do so?