So goes the rousing call of the Bullingdon Club, Cameron, Osborne and Bojo’s Oxford University exclusively male, exclusively public school dining club, famed for burning £50 notes in front of tramps, proud snobbery, and smashing up restaurants for a laugh, dumping a bundle of cash on to the owner at the end of the night to cover damages. The message being ‘As long as you have money, you can behave as you wish’. It probably defines modern, monetarist Conservatism more succinctly than any lengthy academic tract. The play Posh, now showing at Nottingham Playhouse is a great example of this.
When the recent footage of Chelsea ‘fans’ assaulting a black guy on the Paris Metro, before going on to chant about their proud racism, you saw that same spirit again. The white, male privilege. The pack mentality. That desire of the group, strong in numbers, to attack the weak. We do because we can. Interestingly, it turns out the first guy to be identified was a former public school kid. As my friend Jon pointed out ‘Try and tidily fit that into your box of what a football hooligan is’.
There is little difference here. Bullies work in packs. They rely on the mob round them to operate. With the Bullingdon Club it’s money: they can use that to intimidate. With the Chelsea mob, it’s physical force.
As the election looms. expect this sort of intimidation to get worse. The Tory strategist Lynton Crosby is famed for playing dirty. It’s just been revealed that there was a plot to insinuate Labour candidates in marginals were paedophiles, which is pretty low. Yet Crosby thrives on this. His campaigns are aimed at finding a weak group (in Australia, Aboriginals; here, the poor) and running a ‘us vs them’ campaign. When the story broke last week about HSBC carrying out colossal acts of tax-fraud right under the Government’s nose, they quickly threw out some headline grabbers about the obese being denied benefits; or family allowance being restricted to two kids. Both ideas were swiftly rejected as unworkable, but job done ‘Look at the fatties! Don’t look at the fat cats!’.
Here, things are getting depressingly similar. Soubry needs a local mob, hence her latching onto the NET Tram Ranting Room, The room has around 1,800 members, but few ever post, this being restricted to a hateful core (several who don’;t even live round here) who are watched upon by the much more moderate majority in grim fascination. Recently, spurred on by Soubry and her stooges, they have taken to outright abuse of anyone who dares contradict them, and in a rather nasty turn, posting up pictures of those they perceive to be ‘pro-tram’. These are people often banned from the room so are denied a right of reply. What is the purpose of this? How does this contribute to any discussion?
It doesn’t. It is done to intimidate. It is bullying.
Soubry knows this, but it’s ideal for her. She can wash hands of all responsibility. Rile the mob, let them do the rest. I have been subject to attacks often over the months for trying to have a sensible debate on the tram and local businesses. I’m been labelled a paedophile, a facist (the irony doesn’t escape me), being ran by some shady agency who pays me to write this blog (if any shady agencies are out there, cool, maybe you can make writing this a bit lucrative for me. If you have your own hollowed out volcano I can use as an office all the better). I’m a ‘Labour blogger’ ( nope); I’m Cllr Steve Barber’s son (well, I know the Seventies were pretty swinging times, but I’m sure that my dad is my dad – which also makes me now ‘a bastard’), I’m scum, I’ hate Beeston…and on and on. One particular oaf, keeps trying to explain that I am ‘mentally ill’ as I don’t agree with him. Sigh. That’s a trick Stalin used to use, Mike. I’m not, I once had a bout of anxiety after my gran died, but I got over that with a bit of CBT and time. Check with my former GP if you fancy: he is a Tory councillor after all.
I get hit by proxy legal letters from Soubry: the intention of her partner’s Neil DaviDson’s threat to me was to bully and intimidate, easily demonstrated when I questioned it’s validity and the demand from the solicitors to pay £1,500 plus VAT for that initial letter, despite being appallingly written to the extent it even got the client’s name wrong on occasion.
Lib Dem Councillors send unsolicited emails to my wife, who has never been part of any of my work, and holds many different views to myself, threatening to ruin our family should I continue to ask difficult questions.
The latest salvo came after Soubry was stung by a piece on the excellent Political Scrapbook site. I retweeted this and mentioned it on my Facebook page, as I thought it important. What was being billed as a way to help businesses through access to a minister was not quite that: parliament would have shut down for the election that day. It was billed as not ‘party political’, but featured two prominent Tory MPs, so looked more like a campaigning opportunity. Could one therefore attend freely, without paying the £25? I think these are valid questions and it is my right in a democracy to ask them.
I wrote to Soubry , as I am a sole trader in Broxtowe. Her response came from her constituency manager, who replied:
Please note that this event is an opportunity for businesses throughout the constituency to raise their thoughts with the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and network with other local business people. I am aware of the adverse comments that you have made both on Twitter and your Facebook page regarding the event and the attention that this has gained from the People’s Assembly Nottingham. As I am sure you will agree, it is important to support our local businesses and should the event have to be cancelled due to threats of protests, it would be a blow both to a wonderful local business which has been kind enough to host the event, and to the many business people throughout the constituency, who are looking forward to attending.
Dear EmmaMany thanks for your confirmation.I find it rather odd that you have been monitoring my Facebook page. Is this in an official or professional capacity? Please let me know as I feel that viewing my personal Facebook page should not be something that is ultimately paid for by the taxpayer.I fully support Beeston businesses and have done for many years, despite the awful running down of the town others have been responsible for. I still think inviting George ‘Charities are the enemy of business’ Osborne just days after the Oxjam festival gave local business a hugely welcome was a huge mistake, but ce la vie.I feel there is a misleading element to this event that should be clarified. Businesses are being told that they will get to meet a minister who will listen to ideas to shape government policy; yet Parliament will have finished by then, and it is looking increasingly unlikely that Priti Patel’s party will gain a majority. Surely this renders the whole event little more than a vanity, campaigning exercise? If I am to part with £25 I feel I would like to know the event is little more than this.As for Nottingham People’s Assembly, while I broadly support their aims to expose the damage and counter-productivity of austerity, I am not a member of their assembly. Their actions are entirely their look-out, and part of the great traditions of free speech and democracy this country does so well.