Tory Ben Bradley has been no stranger to controversy since he became an MP. In recent weeks, he has caused outrage with online talk of ‘splatting chavs’ and by suggesting poor, unemployed people should be sterilised – a remark defended by senior Tories.
And of course, he’s big news this weekend after last night’s humiliating apology to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which has at the time of writing 34,000 retweets, more quote tweets and over 4,000 responses, many of them hilarious.
But Bradley’s acquaintance with controversy over untrue statements pre-dates his election as an MP. As a councillor in 2016, he provoked outrage by claiming that:
I have just discovered that our wonderful Ashfield District Council has spent £17,000 this month on paying an Indian company to call 1,000 residents in Ashfield from a call centre in Mumbai to ask what they think of council services.
Not only is that £17 per response – would it not be cheaper to skip Mumbai and just go our and speak to people? – and obviously a massive pain in the backside for residents who have been receiving calls at 9 at night, but it comes at the same time as we’re all being asked to stump up more Council tax.
Is that where our extra tax is going I wonder?
This claim turned out to be untrue – the council confirmed that:
- the research and calls had been done by a UK company
- the council only paid a part of the cost
- no calls had been made later than 8.30pm
Another councillor in the area has pointed out the 2016 claim this weekend, accusing Bradley of lying:
Some time ago, before Bradley was much of a news fixture, we contacted him for comment on his untrue claim. His response was – interesting:
What I was trying to do, and clearly the wording of my post did not make it clear, was draw the comparison between our Council outsourcing this calling to another District to create jobs elsewhere, with those companies who base their call centres overseas – essentially asking ‘why create jobs elsewhere when we need them locally?’.
I hadn’t intended what I said about it being in Mumbai to be taken literally, but when it was taken literally I withdrew it, took down the post and apologised in the local media. As this was 18 months ago the matter has long since been closed. I subsequently took the local Council seat in that area from Labour, so I feel certain that residents did not hold it against me.
“I have just discovered that our wonderful Ashfield District Council has spent £17,000 this month on paying an Indian company to call 1,000 residents in Ashfield from a call centre in Mumbai” – wasn’t meant to be “taken literally“.
Bradley told us he didn’t mean India, but ‘another district’. He didn’t comment on the other inaccuracies in his claim.
But Bradley ‘subsequently took the local council seat in that area from Labour‘ anyway.
Except it seems that’s not quite correct either.
According to the screenshot of his post at the time, Bradley was already a councillor when he made the call-centre claim – and according to the Nottingham Post, had been one since 2015 and was still one by the time of last year’s General Election. So if he ‘took the council seat from Labour‘, it wasn’t ‘subsequently‘.
Bradley might be referring to the May 2017 County Council election, in which he won the Hucknall North seat. However, because of boundary changes that was the first time Hucknall North had been contested, so there was no incumbent, Labour or otherwise, to take it from.
Labour had held the previous Hucknall seat, but not Hucknall North.
For the full story at the time, see ‘Chad’s contemporary article.
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