Before his misogynist tweets – which talk of Labour front-bencher Emily Thornberry in terms of sale into sex-slavery, gang-rape and beheading – McKenzie was touted by the Labour right as an expert in preventing or reversing the democratic influence of the party’s majority left-wing membership and toured the country passing on his ‘expertise’.
McKenzie also made a comment on Twitter to fellow right-winger, actor Eddie Marsan, which would have had ‘centrists’ baying for immediate expulsion if it had been put out by a left-winger.
McKenzie pleaded with Marsan not to leave the Labour Party, telling him that while earlier ‘stuff’ hadn’t ‘cut through’, the latest round of accusations were putting the right in a position to win back seats on Labour’s National Executive Committee:
Any left-leaning member making such a suggestion that criticisms of the party were being weaponised in the way that McKenzie’s tweet implies would have been in for a torrid time from so-called ‘moderates’ and even the national media.
But McKenzie apparently felt no concern about framing it as he did.
McKenzie is also the subject of several complaints of anti-democratic or discriminatory practice during local election candidate selections – and was accused on social media of tampering with questions during last weekend’s parliamentary selection meeting.
His impunity ended last night when news leaked that Labour had suspended him pending an investigation of his ‘gang-rape’ tweets – although it took mainstream publications some time to get their sources and stories straight – and that McKenzie had resigned from his position as a political advisor to Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz.
But a number of – almost entirely male – supporters from the right of the Labour Party and of politics generally clearly felt horrified at the idea that McKenzie’s chickens might be arriving ready to roost.
The Mail’s deeply unpleasant and highly unsuccessful political pundit, Tory supporter Dan Hodges, was one of the first to leap to McKenzie’s defence. Hodges chose a brazen route, doubling down when it was pointed out to him what the tweets he was defending said and meant.
He persisted in claiming that McKenzie’s plight was a result of him ‘standing up to Momentum’ rather than of making comments any civilised human being would be ashamed of:
Hodges also attempted a particularly pathetic piece of ‘whataboutery’:
This nonsense was, happily, immediately dismantled by other social media users who helpfully pointed out that Lewis’ comment was made as part of a game show during Labour’s conference last autumn, at a party and not intentionally broadcast to the world on social media – and that he said it to a man.
When a rare woman tweeted defending McKenzie’s social media output – albeit a woman who left the Labour Party the day before a hearing into bullying allegations against her – McCartney jumped in with both feet to support the feeble defence and ignore the real reasons McKenzie is shamed:
The Labour right
The right of the Labour Party contains a number of people – again, almost exclusively male – prepared to defend the indefensible.
McKenzie’s Labour First colleague made a lame attempt to appeal to unity in the by-election campaign and to write off McKenzie’s comments as merely ill-phrased:
Pound has a troubling comment about women in his own social media history:
Blairite former staffer Rob Marchant was happy to ignore the content of McKenzie’s Twitter comments, instead blaming his fall on Corbynite ‘bitterness’ – and claiming McKenzie’s supposedly tireless work for Labour should get him a free pass. Mr Marchant felt that being outraged by a right-winger’s tweets about gang-rape and beheading was ‘childish’:
‘Labour’ MP Mike Gapes retweeted Marchant’s comments, but didn’t leave it there, attempting to blame McKenzie’s discomfiture on an ‘orchestrated campaign’ by this blog. Clearly the SKWAWKBOX inhabits a few right-wing waking nightmares:
Fellow right-wing MP Graham Jones was happy to support Gapes’ efforts to cast McKenzie as the victim. Jones was also seen last night having a drink and a chat with McKenzie on the Commons Terrace Bar along with another right-wing Labour MP, Neil Coyle.
When Gapes was challenged on his supportive tweets, he responded odiously – and flippantly:
Former Blair spin doctor Alistair Campbell considered McKenzie a ‘total warrior for Labour’ – presumably that makes misogynist tweeting irrelevant:
Devon MP Ben Bradshaw wanted to ‘second’ praise for McKenzie – but seemed less eager to answer when challenged about the content of McKenzie’s tweets:
Peer Michael Cashman stood unsuccessfully on the Labour First slate for Labour’s Conference Arrangements Committee.
Murdoch journalist Philip Collins – who used to write speeches for Tony Blair – thought Labour deserved to fail if it didn’t embrace McKenzie with open arms – again, no mention of McKenzie’s misogynist comments:
This was a fact that journalist Adam Bienkov found ‘grimly’ unsurprising and deeply hypocritical:
Progressite former staffer Paul Richards, who has also written for Conservative Home about how great David Cameron was, echoed Hodges’ weak line – ignoring what McKenzie had said, in favour of casting him as a noble victim:
Jon Woodcock retweeted a tweet that attempted to lionise McKenzie and – again – made no mention of his vile comments:
Michael White – a ‘hack’ by his own description – has a history of defending the ridiculous on social media. So it was appalling but not surprising that he was among those jumping in to defend McKenzie’s behaviour with the same tired line as others:
All of them
As the Huffington Post’s Paul Waugh pointed out, McKenzie’s supporters are attempting to excuse him from the consequences of his behaviour by appealing to a supposed ‘statute of limitations’:
The hypocrisy of this is breathtaking, since the right afforded no such protection to left-wingers during the infamous purges in which members were expelled for old retweets of a comment by the Greens or commenting on a rock star.
And, of course, every statute of limitations has exceptions – offences that never expire.
The silence of the female right
The near-complete absence of condemnation from female so-called ‘centrists’ has been almost as horrific as the readiness of their male counterparts to defend him. As barrister ‘CrémantCommunarde’ observed:
The same voices that were rightly loud in criticism of, say, suspended MP Jared O’Mara, have been deafeningly silent when it comes to Ian McKenzie.
Blairites and rosette-wearing Tories alike seem either to have no filter about defending the vilest misogynistic comments or the hypocrisy it demonstrates – or not to care how it appears.
It’s bleak enough as a demonstration of their sense of entitlement. But as a manifestation of the dark, hypocritical heart of the right that is only ever thinly veiled by their political posturing, it’s both nauseating and horrific.
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