As the SKWAWKBOX covered yesterday, Tory ‘eugenics’ MP Ben Bradley spread a far-right publication’s smear against the Labour Party, claiming that the party was “charging white people more for tickets” for its East Midlands conference.
The truth of the matter is that ‘BAME Labour’ is a ‘socialist society’ with its own members and membership fees – and the society is subsidising tickets for its members, having obtained diversity funding for the purpose – a practice in place for some years for the event.
In other words, black or minority ethnic attendees who haven’t paid extra for membership of the BAME Labour society will pay the same as anyone else.
Any other affiliated socialist society – full list here, including such groups as the Jewish Labour Movement, LGBT Labour, Chinese Labour, Socialist Health Association, Disability Labour and many more – is of course free to do the same if it chooses.
Challenged by social media users for propagating fake news, Mr Bradley again took to Twitter to repeat his claim, with what he alleged was evidence in the form of a screenshot of the East Midlands Labour site:
The Tories, unsurprisingly, were keen to push this line for political gain. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told the Daily Mail:
This is racism. In effect, Labour is levying a tax on the basis of the colour of a person’s skin. It shows their contempt for the white working class.
Front-bencher James Cleverly. who recently defended Bradley over his ‘eugenics’ comments, was equally eager:
Discriminating against people based on the colour of their skin is totally wrong and Mr Corbyn must end this practice now.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted all three Tory MPs to ensure they were aware of the real facts and to invite them to retract or amend their contacts.
Bridgen was unapologetic:
It is racist, divisive and I believe it’s illegal as do a number of Labour MPs I have discussed this matter with.
Mr Bridgen insisted that his “number of Labour MPs” were “not the usual suspects” – but of course, this doesn’t preclude them having a poor grasp of the facts of the matter.
Neither Cleverly nor Bradley chose to respond, leaving their grossly inaccurate and potentially inciteful comments as the most current record of their position.
A spokesperson for East Midlands Labour told the SKWAWKBOX:
The Labour Party is taking advice on other ways we can increase the representation of BAME members at East Midlands Regional Conference in February. The intention behind the BAME pass was to increase the representation of under-represented groups which remains a priority for the party.
Understandably, in view of the way in which the issue has been abused to attack the party, the offer has now been removed from the East Midlands Labour site.
So in their eagerness to attack Labour, unsurprising though it is in a period of chaos and adverse publicity for the government, the Tories have succeeded in making it harder for members of BAME Labour to access a legitimate benefit of their membership – and have aligned themselves with the BNP and other extreme-right groups to achieve it.
There is also a legitimate question whether their behaviour online and in the media constitutes harassment or an incitement to commit hate-crime. The government’s page on hate-crime says that hate-crimes are,
Crimes committed against someone because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation are hate crimes and should be reported to the police.
Hate crimes can include:
- threatening behaviour
- damage to property
- inciting others to commit hate crimes
Initial Tory Party comments on the matter might be excused as made in ignorance of the facts – although the source of the original claims ought to be a sufficiently large ‘red flag’ to cause serious caution in treating them as accurate.
Once the facts had been made clear, a failure to put the record straight, let alone apologise is a matter of grave concern – especially when the Tories are attempting to use ‘fake news’ claims to close down inconvenient independent media and right-wing commentators are admitting on national television that reports don’t have to be ‘wholly accurate’ to damage Labour.
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