Tory MP Ben Bradley, who has been embroiled in controversy over his comments about sterilising unemployed ‘wasters‘ and ‘splat[ting] chavs‘ with a water cannon, has issued a video apology in which he attempts to mitigate his comments – made in 2011 and 2012 – by claiming he was ‘a student with no real responsibilities‘.
Does that claim stand up to scrutiny? Bradley’s own words seem to contradict it:
Bradley’s Linkedin page, which has apparently not been updated since he became a councillor, contains a summary of his career up to that point. It shows that for a period of over three years, Bradley was managing an Open University (OU) office – with six staff reporting to him, “responsible for the welfare of up to 2000 students” and for solving problems “in often sensitive or personal situations”:
If this is true, then Bradley had been taking these… responsibilities for a couple of years or so at the time of his 2011 comments.
Others of Bradley’s contentious comments were made, according to the Evening Standard, in 2012. In 2012, as well as working as the OU office manager, Bradley also took on significant responsibility within his local Conservative party:
Bradley ends his video by appealing for understanding for young people on the grounds that politicians are ‘normal people‘ and ‘normal people cock things up‘, before claiming,
I think that’s the discussion we really need to have, about how we judge people.
Yet when former Labour MP Jared O’Mara was rightly under attack for his offensive comments, Mr Bradley was not heard defending O’Mara for ‘cocking things up’. On the contrary, was vocal in calling for him to be condemned – and mocked the idea that O’Mara had matured since he made his comments:
We invited Mr Bradley to comment on the apparent mismatch between his claim to have been a ‘student with no real responsibilities‘ and his Linkedin claim to have been managing an office and six people. He at first appeared to ignore our pointer to his Linkedin claims, responding only that:
I was a student at Nottingham Trent University, and graduated in 2013, at which time I went to work in recruitment. I worked for the Conservative Party from late 2013 to 2015, when I went to work for Mark Spencer. You are talking utter bollocks. It doesn’t take much research to clarify, it’s even on Wikipedia!
When we pointed out again that his own Linkedin history didn’t really match his ‘no responsibilities’ claim, he modified his response but still attempted to write off its significance – before ‘taking his ball home’:
That was a part time summer job mate. I also stacked shelves at ALDI in 2011/12, if it helps you get a balance on my responsibility levels! Not that it has any relevance whatsoever.
You’ll note my page also quite clearly says I was a student at Nottingham Trent University until 2013. You really need to get a life. I won’t be replying to you again.
Of course Bradley was a student at Nottingham Trent – his Linkedin page says so.
Or it would, if it hadn’t disappeared immediately after our email exchange:
Fortunately, while Wayback Machine won’t archive Linkedin pages, we uploaded it here as a PDF just in case anything should happen to go wrong with the original: Cllr Ben Bradley | LinkedIn | Watermarked.
As well as being a student, Bradley was also, if his Linkedin claims about his working history are accurate, managing an office there with six staff reporting to him.
Part-time or full-time, Bradley’s OU post was a job he claims to have held for “3 years 3 months” – not for a summer or two – and his description contradicts his claim to have been a “student with no real responsibilities” at the time he made his early, offensive comments.
Of course, if his claims are not true, that raises a different set of serious questions.
Given Mr Bradley’s offensive comments and the apparent contradictions in his attempts to explain them, #copout and #weak may very well apply to Theresa May’s failure to remove him from his new responsibilities as vice-chair of the Tory party for youth.
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