Peter Tatchell has grabbed headlines by leading a protest that disrupted a speech by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a key speech about domestic violence.
The protest was supposedly to call on Corbyn ‘to demand action to end the conflict in Syria’. Which is odd when you consider that Corbyn is one of the few UK politicians to vote against bombing Syria and he has consistently spoken against human rights abuses there and elsewhere.
Bravo, Peter. Wonder why you’d want to do that? Grab headlines, that is. Hard to fathom.
Corbyn handled the interruption with his usual grace, but Tatchell shamed himself and his cause.
The protest was strongly reminiscent of the intervention at a Pride event by Tom Mauchline, who used a gay rights event to try to blame Corbyn for Brexit – which was equally idiotic, when it was David Cameron who called the referendum for his own narrow, political purposes, while Corbyn had out-campaigned by miles any other Labour figure.
But then, Mauchline happens to work for Portland Communications, a PR company that happens to be run by former Blair advisers, including the awful Alastair Campbell. So let’s say that his bosses wouldn’t be annoyed by his actions.
Tatchell’s version of ‘the totally inappropriate attack on completely the wrong person at utterly the wrong event’ is so similar, one has to wonder whether there is also a connection.
After all, Tatchell and Campbell have some history, having famously (or infamously) performed together in a ‘Bucks Fizz’ tribute in the 2010 election campaign.
Whatever the provenance of the idea, the common denominator is that both interventions were clearly intended to dominate the headlines at the expense of Corbyn and to damage public perception of the Labour leader, who has already been almost blacked our lately by the mainstream media in what some are already terming a new ‘silent coup’.
To interrupt an event designed to promote awareness of an issue as crucial as domestic violence, for what was essentially self-promotion, is unconscionable and the reaction on social media reflected this:
And perhaps the prizewinner for aptness:
Weirdly (or not), there was little or no outrage from anti-Corbyn female Labour MPs like Jess Phillips at Tatchell’s undermining an event against violence toward women, in spite of their self-proclaimed status as women’s activists. Perhaps they consider it a fair trade-off for more negative media coverage of their party’s leader.
The awful thing is that, while Tatchell may find the attention gratifying, he has brought disrepute on the causes he claims to care about, whether that be gay rights or human rights in Syria.
Whether this was Tatchell’s own idea, that of some Blairite eminence grise or someone else, the next time he wants to be heard, people who would naturally give him an ear will be far less inclined to do so, now he’s shown himself prepared to damage victims of domestic violence and victims of Syrian violence in a cheap, cynical publicity stunt.