Coincidence is a curious thing. Today, Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent-Coad launched a new report on inequality in her area.
At the same time, Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservatives (KCFC) have rightly been the target of scorn and contempt for sending a questionnaire to residents asking whether they thought the Grenfell Tower tragedy was still important.
And on the very same day, the Establishment ‘happens’ to ‘discover’ a supposed racism ‘scandal’ about the Ms Dent-Coad.
KCFC sent a form to locals, in which their Grenfell question – alongside issues such as bin collections and recycling – displayed a callousness that shocked even veteran Tory-watchers who thought nothing could surprise them:
Handily for the Tories, the right-wing Fawkes blog came up with a seven-year-old article by then-councillor Emma Dent-Coad and blared about a ‘vicious 2010 blog post that really is dripping venom and hate‘ toward a black Tory parliamentary candidate, claiming that she called him a ‘token ghetto boy’.
Except the article didn’t.
Ms Dent-Coad actually criticises Shaun Bailey’s use of the word ‘ghetto’ about the Golborne area from which he originates, pointing out that it has been called an exemplary diverse community – and wonders where, given that he was reported to be taking riding lessons so he could go fox-hunting, Mr Bailey would be able to fit in.
Which Fawkes claimed was a statement that he ‘will never’ fit in, which is rather different.
Tory MP James Cleverly thought he scented blood, which gave Fawkes another spurious headline ‘condemning’ Dent-Coad for ‘vile prejudice’.
Cleverly leaped with both feet, describing Ms Dent-Coad’s article as “vile and unacceptable language, [which] once again highlights a distasteful prejudice towards black Conservatives that I’ve called out before“, before demanding:
When will Labour deal with this?
Of course, that was Fawkes’ ‘take’ on the article, rather than the article itself.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Cleverly:
You have made comments today to Guido Fawkes about a quote attributed to Emma Dent-Coad, which you described as “vile and unacceptable language” and “distasteful prejudice”. The quote was misleading and Ms Dent-Coad was in fact quoting your Conservative colleague Shaun Bailey’s own words.
- Do you wish to retract your own comments and apologise to Ms Dent-Coad?
- Do you wish to apologise for attacking the Labour Party: “when will Labour deal with this?”
- Do you now consider it ill-advised to rely on the Guido Fawkes blog as a source?
Mr Cleverly has not so far responded.
Gareth Bacon, Tory leader of the Greater London Assembly, was also quick to get in on the act – unfortunately also without checking whether Ms D-C had ‘said this’:
Of course, it was unbelievable, not merely ‘almost’.
The ‘outrage’ wasn’t limited to Tory politicians. Financial Times leader-writer Sebastian Payne was also keen, taking to Twitter to condemn the ‘disgusting’ remarks and to conflate them with the case of suspended MP Jared O’Mara:
The SKWAWKBOX offered Mr Payne the chance to comment:
Your Twitter comments about Emma D-C’s ‘disgusting’ remarks appear to have been made on the basis of a Fawkes claim and without reading the source material, as it’s clear she is in fact quoting the Tory candidate. We will be publishing on this issue this evening and your comments are likely to feature. Do you wish to make a comment?
He didn’t, at least so far. But then, Mr Payne’s last interaction with the SKWAWKBOX ended less than well, so his reticence might be understandable:
Emma Dent-Coad was more than happy to talk to the SKWAWKBOX, however. When we pointed out the ‘coincidence’ that this should all happen on the very day the Tories would be grateful for a diversion or two in Kensington, she laughed and commented:
The original blog post couldn’t be clearer. I was quoting Shaun Bailey’s own comments about parts of the borough, along with those of his Conservative colleagues on Kensington and Chelsea Council.
She also pointed out the 2010 Guardian article referring to former Tory council leader calling areas of Chelsea as ‘ghettoes’.
Of course, this is far from the first such attack on Ms Dent-Coad, who has been an uncompromising advocate for her constituents affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy that KCFC today seemed to be hoping local people might be forgetting.
Update: BBC News ran the allegations in its ten o’clock programme – having been warned by the SKWAWKBOX that they were fake news. So much for ‘impartiality’.
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