I have a confession. I once had a soft spot for Damian Green. I know little about him other than he is in cabinet and has a rumpled look that makes him look like a benign Greg Dyke. Oh, and he likes the band Half Man Half Biscuit.
As a fellow fan of the Wirral satirists, my logic ran thus: if he also likes them, actually likes them in a wgay much different than Gordon Brown’s professed love of the Arctic Monkeys, then he must be alright on some levels. Not enough to vote for, should the chance arise, but enough not to see him in same way I see the other rapacious rats in a sack that make up our current government.
Then it turns out he’s accused of abusing his power to harass women and has a massive load of extreme grumble on his hard drive, and suddenly being able to appreciate the nuances of Joy Division Oven Gloves isn’t quite enough to ameliorate his shiteness.
Soubry is, to far too many people, a similar case. She appeared on Channel 4’s Last Leg this week, where one question sent in via twitter asked if it was ok to simultaneously hate Conservatism but like Anna Soubry.
At a glance, it’s probably not so surprising. Anyone on the political left of Farage probably sees her as an insurgent in the Hard Brexit Tory party, calling out the excesses of the rabid Europhobes that have set this country on a course to crapness. An outspoken free-speaker, who called for Theresa May to ‘consider her position’ in the early hours of the Tory electoral foot-shoot. A liberal on social issues, a modern, uber-Cameroonian who comfortably shakes off the sleazy hypocrisy of moralising Toryism that saw them rot from the core out in the nineties.
As such, she also has fans on the left-leaning commentariat: Owen Jones has professed to a soft spot for her, as has Jack Monroe and others. Then there is More United, a group set up following the politically divisive Summer of 2016, when the referendum split the country (thanks, Cameron!). In an attempt to stop the further polarisation of the nation, they set out with a noble mission statement:
We believe it has never been more important for people to come together to champion what unites us and to stop the growing hatred and intolerance in our country.
Roll on 2017, and the snap election as May attempted a power-grab to allow her to implement a much harder Tory agenda and Brexit than her slender majority allowed. More United picked out several MPs from all parties, who shared their values. Soubry was one of them, picked by their supporters who then contributed to crowdfunding donations to the MP’s in question. To many people in Broxtowe who donated to More United, Soubry was one of them, and subsequently received an endorsement, volunteer support and £6,000 towards her campaign – though heaven only knows what that was spent on considering her lacklustre, invisible campaign.
When More United accompanied her to Beeston in June, I received the true wrath of Soubry when I asked her about her dubious claims to have ever lived in the constituency (she did buy a flat in Bramcote, but very rarely used it, instead seemingly using to put up activists). Knowing about the well-documented physical abuse I suffered as a child, she used it to attack me when in public.
Since then, I received much correspondence from people who Soubry had similarly treated. Former staff and activists told me of her tantrums, her frequent and loud use of the word ‘cunt’, and how she was intolerable to work for/with. I even heard from an ex-tech who worked with her at Central News in the eighties, who reported that her behaviour was horrific to anyone she perceived as lower down the ladder than her – while obsequious to those she perceived as her superiors
So what led More United to back her? I asked, they answered:
Anna is a passionate and principled campaigner who has repeatedly demonstrated a desire to promote More United’s values of openness and tolerance, even when it has meant defying her party. That sort of bravery should be applauded and supported, wherever possible.
Many of my readers here, especially those who tune in when I turn my mind towards local politics, will be aware I’ve known Soubry a long time and will remember the consistent theme of my pieces on her: Anna Soubry is a nasty, perfidious person. This is no knee-jerk reaction to the fact shes a Tory, because even if you strip away the policy and party allegiance you have a woman who has built a career bullying, lying and treating others like the crap she perceives they are. I’ve seen such people right across the political spectrum in the years I spent working with them, and I do know that politics is structured to reward such behaviour. It is still wrong and must be called out.
I’m going to list a few of the reasons that Anna Soubry is not the liberal, rebel minded liberal hero many seem to think she is. We’ll assess this through More United’s stated values, and see how they match up. I’ll link through to articles that expand on points, and try and be as thorough as possible; if you’d like more, please contact me. This is a mere dusting of her awfulness.
Right, let’s check out More United and theie principles, and see how Anna matches up:
Tolerance: we want to live in a free, diverse society where our differences are celebrated and respected:
Anna has long been intolerant of alternative viewpoints, to the point she simply doesn’t bother listening or replying to correspondence of those who she perceives to be politically different to her. She boasts of throwing away petitions that come via 38 Degrees and similar crowd-campaign aids, and when the local Royal Mail sorting office staff asked her to not support privatisation, she instead stood up in the Commons and lied that they were, in fact, in favour.
- Her behaviour in the Commons shames Broxtowe. The speaker has frequently had to admonish her when she has used inappropriate language, on one notable occasion three times in one session.
- She has constantly tried to divide. Those against her are ‘trots’, rather than people she is paid to represent. She makes no effort to reach out across the political divide, instead using division to rule.
- She endorses the notoriously racist and rabid Ranting Rooms: a Facebook group set up to try and polarise opinion in Beeston. The site, thankfully now in its death throes, was infamous for banning anyone and bullying them online should they step out the party line. They doxxed people, and took delight in issuing violent threats: to this day, I still have to report these to the police when they arrive (this article will provoke a few, i can almost guarantee). When I asked Anna why she continued to support this group, she told me ‘she couldn’t control what happens online’. Yes, but you can think twice about endorsing them in parliament, perhaps? (added note: after the Grenfell tragedy, one of the central users / avid Soubry cheerleader of the site wrote a post that blamed immigrants for the disaster; the post stayed up until the police had to pay a visit. Did Anna speak out against such intolerance, when asked? Nah, she didn’t).
- Talking of Grenfell, Soubry had to get her grubby oar in there as well, retweeting a Mel Phillips article that tastefully claimed the left were ‘fanning the flames’. Aside from the wisdom of retweeting anything from notorious Islamophobe Phillips, she then failed to apologise for repeating the phrase ‘fanning the flames’, claiming those who found it a wee bit offensive were – and that sound you here is irony about to die – politicising the issue.
Democracy: we want you to have real influence over politics.
- Soubry doesn’t much care for local democracy, refusing to challenge her own party over Broxtowe’s local government settlement, the worst in the UK. Her indifference and failure to act cost Broxtowe: the cash-strapped council slashed provision and staff.
- Kimberly Town Council was a well-run, efficient council that did good work in the North of the borough. Unfortunately for them, they were also predominantly run by left-leaning councillors. Anna took it upon herself to try and destroy the council by joining up with a local BNP sympathiser and domestic abuser named Darren Warner. She even took it upon herself to introduce him to then minister Nick Boles, despite being warned repeatedly about Warner’s past. She put out claims that the council had squandered their funds, to the point of criminal. The councillors, who were all unpaid Kimberly residents just trying to improve their area, were treated like criminals. After an expensive audit thrust upon them by Soubry and Warner, the council were entirely exonerated. Did Soubry apologise? Nah.
Opportunity: we need a fair economy that bridges the gap between rich and poor.
- Anna has ALWAYS voted with the government on their war against the poor. She gleefully defends austerity, voted for disability legislation that led to the United Nations stating that the UK was failing to uphold disabled people’s rights.
- She still repeats the lie that Labour ‘bankrupted the country’, despite the weight of evidence that the crazed actions of the US housing market and the collapse of huge financial institutions were probably more culpable than a couple of suburban Sure Start centres.
- She has constantly voted for the 1% pay cap on public centre staff that has seen wages amongst our most cherished services plummet.
Environment: we must do everything possible to tackle climate change and protect our environment:
- Soubry loves a bit of fracking, even when it is earmarked for her own constituency, and has gone on record supporting the industry. Fracking beneath both Bramcote Park and Attenborough Nature reserve might not be what her constituents want, but donations to her party are always of greater value than those she is supposed to represent.
- Soubry touted herself as the saviour of the greenbelt in Broxtowe, coming out against the development of Stapleford’s Field Farm. That will be the Field Farm that currently is covered in earth movers and dug up turf, despite Tories running the local council and the Government. Is this a case of gross incompetence, or was she being a little less honest with the truth when painting herself as the local Caroline Lucas?
Openness: we welcome immigration, but understand it must work for everyone, and believe in bringing down international barriers, not raising them. We also want a close relationship with the EU:
- Surely Anna scores well here? She’s styled herself as the sensible face of Brexit, facing off against the frothing idiocy of the europhobic hard right. It is just a shame she doesn’t vote that way and instead gave an ‘aye’ for throwing us off a cliff. Pragmatism, perhaps? Well, her mentor Kenneth Clarke managed to show he has some principles…
Her voting record hardly shows a rebellious, EU-championing hero:
So why do More United continue to support Soubry? I wrote to them over the Summer asking this in light of the aforementioned child abuse mocking. They agreed it was wrong of her, and promised to review their support…then nothing. Another MP supported by MU got in touch to say they were probably a bit trapped as they struggled to find a Tory in the first place. They too were suckered into thinking Soubry is a moderate ‘good’ Tory. I hope after this is read the true Soubry, the principle-free, misanthropic careerist Soubry, reveals herself and they take appropriate action.