BULLY BULLY BULLY!

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.
Errr, they’ve been looking at my Facebook page? Why this interest in a constituents social media? Twitter is fine, if I allow a follower they can read what they like, but I’m not friends with Soubz or any of her cronies on Facebook so what is this about? I replied
Dear Emma

 
Many 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.
I didn’t receive a reply, but Soubry and her lieutenants took to social media to whip up anger, Michelle Patel claiming I’d hit ‘new lows’ by questioning the event, and calling for me to be sacked from the judging panel of the Beeston Business Awards, wile also joining in with Cllr. Mia Kee  and Soubz  as they whipped themselves into a rabid frenzy on Twitter about the outrageous behaviour of asking a person I pay to represent me a difficult question. It’s a bullying tactic, of course. the Ranting Room responded to Patel’s dog-whistle with it’s usual frenzy, not addressing the issues but laying into me.
It’s dull, it’s predictable. It’s not constructive political / civic debate. It is bullying. Poor Cllr. Mia Kee runs an anti-bullying charity, so must be feeling pretty torn up having to be party to this.
She wouldn’t be the only one. Soubry’s plans are massively backfiring. She seems to think that Beestonians think like she does, purely in black and white, or more fittingly, red and blue. Yet we aren’t as shallow as that. Politics for most here come second to a civic responsibility. Accordingly, my work on a civic level could be seen as One Nation Toryism, at a push, Big Society. I don’t divide myself on a political level. I, and I imagine the great majority of Beeston, want what’s best for the town.
Anna’s continued attempts to use the mob of the ranting room, and get people to join the place by repeated endorsements in her newsletter, are counterproductive. The core vote, who are decent, well mannered Tories, are disgusted by the abuse on the site, and the way Anna condones such actions. As mentioned before, the 1,800 people on the site are not all of the same mind, not one homogeneous bloc that can be used at her will. A small core will, but the vast majority watch on, with increasing disgust.
Interestingly, I asked this core that if they would like a debate one-to-one by email. Rather than the mob tactics of being part of the Keyboard Warrior Squadron, if they’d like to engage in a rational, one-on-one email debate. I received not a single response.
That’s the thing with bullies. Once separated from the pack, they are nothing. Insecurity causes them to clump, to hide in the mob, to group attack anything different to them. In this way they are no different than the racists on the Paris Metro, the snobbish thugs of The Bullingdon Club, or the plain old schoolyard bully, always secretly the most terrified, weak individual.

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12 thoughts on “BULLY BULLY BULLY!

  1. Ian Macarthur says:

    I think the comments about the pack mentality analysis is spot on having recently had some experience of it, once one starts the others dive in. Another example comes from the Mike who you refer to who once someone started some abuse put up a sticker telling me to “fuck off and do one”. Although it was denied that I had been abused Mike eventually put up a post saying “reprimand accepted anything else we can do for you”. I didn’t bother asking him who he meant by we as it was obvious to me he was incapable of taking personal responsibility for his behaviour and wanted to remain part of the pack. My advice for what its worth is to have nothing to do with them.

  2. rutty says:

    “Except she misjudged one thing…”

    Crikey, this is a bigger cliffhanger than Eastenders. What happens next?

    • beestonia says:

      Ooops! You can stand down the suspense, Rutty. I was on the bus en route to work when I was finishing the piece off, and as such didn’t proof it as well as I could when on my laptop. But, in other news *dramatic pause*

  3. Michael Rich says:

    In my early days as a LibDem councillor on Broxtowe, I have to say that I twice experienced bullying and both times it took a physical form. Luckily I am tougher than than I look and I stood my ground and resisted on both occasions. I have to agree that in my experience, both Labourites and Tories behave in a tribal fashion, but both times I was subjected to an attempted bullying, it was by Labour councillors.

    I think word must have got around and there were no further incidents. When I became leader of the LibDems and of the council, I found the LibDems were not tribal at all and often compared them to a herd of cats!

    Fair enough, each LibDem member had liberal instincts and were mainly interested in the best deal for their contituents, rather than the strength of the party contingent, but they had varying experiences of interactions with members of other parties, especially at election time. Holding together the coalition with Labour and to a degree with two independents, under such circumstances, was no easy task.

  4. Mia Kee says:

    As interesting as I find this article, I think you will find that all I did was question as to why you were attacking Ms Soubry for hosting an event in a business in the borough, the profits of which are going to said business. In contrast you did not question the MP you support hosting his fundraising dinner outside of the borough he is hoping to represent. Perhaps you define frenzy differently, but I am happy for you to screenshot any tweets from me which clearly show your assertions are unfounded. Further, I would posit that your articles on the whole are extremely intimidating and would probably be classed bullying by most people.

    • beestonia says:

      Hi Mia. I’ll answer each part of that.
      1. I didn’t ‘attack’ it, I questioned it’s validity. This is what happens in a democracy: scrutiny is an essential component.
      2. Err, which MP is that then? Or was that a Freudian slip?
      3. You call me ‘extremely intimidating’ and what I do ‘would be classed bullying by most people’. Now, I am aware that running a anti bullying initative you understand what bullying means. To me, it is the strong attacking the weak. It is suppression of expression. As a constituent with a deep love for my area I have strived to make sure as much transparency, as much scrutiny, as much dissemination is carried out from my viewpoint. This is how free speech in a democracy works. I don’t get paid for this, unlike yourself. I do this cos it is my democratic duty. Your party then condones posting up personal photos of constituents, calling them liars, making intimidating legal threats; supports accusations that I am ‘mentally ill’. Emailing my wife who is entirely not involved in this threatening to ‘ruin my family’.

      Holding people in power to account is not bullying. Intimidating those who apply this free speech from a position of power IS bullying.

  5. Dane says:

    I’ve known lots of football hooligans over the years. They certainly fit no boxes although the more intelligent certainly use the followers if you like..
    I was a member of the ranting room for a while recently though, I’d describe myself as fairly pro tram. I have left but certainly not because of any bullying, they were quite civilised in discussion. Lots of ‘facts’ posted that were obviously crap mind, literally a rant page. Never going to be done by trades description that’s for sure.
    There are some good people on there that have been treated very poorly.

  6. Dane says:

    Just to follow … Forgot to tick box

  7. stevebarber says:

    It was different in those days Michael. You and I got on well and we did some pretty good things together. Sadly the whole local political scene took a swing to nasty in 2010 when Ms Soubry took over as MP. Her motto seems to be to divide and rule. She hated the Lib-Lab partnership which was doing so much and set about destroying it, unfortunately some obliged her. It’ll take a lot of effort and other (younger) people than us to mend the bridges which have been so badly torn down.

    But I am convinced that good will triumph. Beeston is now such an incredibly strong town with a great future. You helped forge that future Michael, and Soubry tried to undo the good work done.

  8. Beeston Bystander says:

    Bystander apathy, deindividuation, conformity and group polarisation. It’s all there, classic mob behaviour. There are good people in the group afraid to stand up and say they don’t like the personal and abusive posts because it would make them targets. I bet there are people in that Facebook group doing a study on it.

    • Dane says:

      Many people in that group are pro tram, many have joined just to see what it’s about,many will be press. I mentioned this whilst in there but they went into denial. Was quite interesting really as they’re positive all 1700 members are anti tram. I was directed there by pro tram people for the laugh.

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