An email I received from my MP, Peter Kyle, throws an interesting light on the tactics used by the antisemitism smearers against the left.
I asked my MP, Peter Kyle (Lab, Hove) to tell me what he was disputing in this blog post, which lists ten common and widely used frauds in the antisemitism smearing war against Corbyn and the left.
Top Ten Labour Antisemitism Smears
This is my personal top ten. Everything here is sourced from primary sources.
I have asked Mr Kyle previously about one of these frauds, that concerning (then MP) Chris Williamson, with no result. Mr Kyle was instrumental in the persecution of Mr Williamson, who is one of the falsely accused listed in my blog post. In one exchange, I showed Mr Kyle an email I had received from Quakers in Britain confirming they had received ‘threats’ about Mr Williamson’s speaking engagement at the Friends’ Meeting House in Brighton in August 2019* — Mr Kyle’s response was to tell me ‘not to believe everything I saw on twitter’. So this is not the first time we have discussed it, nor the first time I have had occasion to question Mr Kyle’s probity or honesty on this issue.
Since I had no response to my request, I repeated the question underneath one of Mr Kyle’s Facebook posts: what, exactly, was he disputing in my piece?
I think it might be instructive to look at his reply.
1. PK: ’Regarding my Facebook Page, it was me personally that ‘banned’ you from accessing and posting comments. Since I was selected as a candidate in 2013 I have done so very few times. However the frequency with which you were posting (several times in a couple of minutes); the persistently aggressive nature of your posts; and the sheer incivility of your language led to a pattern that, particularly when coupled with similar behaviour via other channels, felt to me like harassment.’
Of course, it’s impossible for anyone to know whether this is true or not because he’s deleted the posts. Nothing whatsoever was ‘aggressive’, though my ‘tone’ was, admittedly, nothing like the fawning and sycophancy of the other posts in the thread. An MP who can’t take robust debate without claiming ‘aggression’, and who will allow only sycophants to comment, is one who has already lost the argument. MPs defend their positions, that’s what we pay them to do. They don’t refuse on the grounds of ‘tone’, and try to censor their critics. You’re not running a fan club, Mr Kyle.
The only words I can think of that might have been objected to are ‘pious fraud’. That, certainly, is not friendly language, but I think you would need to work hard to extract any ‘aggression’ or ‘threat’ or ‘harassment’ from it.
2. PK: ‘Language or tone or a level of aggression that is likely to cause offence or lead to an atmosphere of threat is unacceptable.’
Again, because he has taken the precaution of deleting the comments in question, no-one will ever be able to verify whether they were in fact ‘offensive’ or ‘threatening’ (which would, of course, be a criminal matter). Mr Kyle presents his opinion as if it were a verified fact instead of an unevidenced interpretation or opinion. If Mr Kyle genuinely believed in this ‘harassment’ or ‘offence’ or ‘threat’, he would go to the police: he has not done so. These are simply unverified — and now conveniently unverifiable — accusations. Smears, in other words.
3. PK: ‘I must also safeguard my own wellbeing. Political debate can, and should, be civil. You appear to live in a perpetual state of rage and whilst I may have pity for the challenges this must present you it is not my duty as an MP to tolerate it.’
Here Kyle attempts to pathologise my attempts to get him to answer one very simple question, as if that is evidence of a psychological disorder. This is a fairly common gaslighting tactic with abusers, to project their own psychological problems onto their victims. It is Mr Kyle who has the problem, which is that he cannot admit to his five-year-long campaign of lying about Corbyn and the left and feels threatened by its public exposure, as anyone would, of course.
His reference to ‘his own wellbeing’ is an attempt to claim victim status. But the victim here is not the liar, it is the one lied about — Corbyn. The competitive victimhood Mr Kyle attempts here is, alas, not even slightly convincing. He has abused for five years. He is no victim.
4. PK: ‘…Matters relating to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party are, thankfully, firmly in the past and I will waste no time indulging futile debates that I consider settled by the EHRC report…’
This is simply a repetition of his refusal to answer the question put to him. He flatly refuses, tries to muddy the waters with ‘the EHRC report’ (which of course magically says whatever anyone wants it to say), and considers the question ‘settled’. Er, politely: no.
5. PK: ‘I wish you well into the future but feel it best we cease communications unless it concerns a matter of material concern to your health or wellbeing that specifically requires the attention of an MP in order to avoid wasted energy and the potential for exchanges that are not in the best interests of either of our wellbeings.’
Here again the framing of psychological ‘wellbeing’. Both my and Mr Kyle’s ‘wellbeing’ are at risk, apparently, if I continue to ask him to answer the question. Putting aside the veiled threat about my ‘wellbeing’ being at risk (from whom? in what manner?), he claims it is psychologically harmful to him to be asked to defend his conduct as an MP in public.
So in quite a short space, we have:
i) Unevidenced accusations of ‘harassment,’ ‘aggression’ and ‘threat’, all accusations of criminal conduct, all false;
ii) Attempts to pathologise, and thus delegitimise, and so silence, someone who asks for accountability from their elected representative about his public statements;
iii) Citation of ‘the EHRC report’, as if these are magic words that somehow make five years of fraud go away;
iv) A veiled threat about risks to my ‘wellbeing’, and the claim of victim status.
I think this is an interesting and instructive response. The smearing war is visibly falling apart now, as more and more people become aware of the scale and depth of the deceit perpetrated by Mr Kyle and others in his party. All they have left now are baseless ad hominem attacks of this kind and attempts to claim ‘victimhood’ when their lies are exposed.
I think we may be winning.
Mr Kyle, we could resolve the whole thing right here and now. I ask you again, as politely, civilly, and in as unthreatening a manner as I know how: please tell me what you are disputing in the linked blog post.
Mr Kyle’s email in full:
(*Interested readers will find a full account of Chris Williamson’s August 2019 Brighton speaking event by Greg Hadfield, here: https://greghadfield.medium.com/a-first-rough-draft-of-history-chris-williamson-mp-in-brighton-and-hove-ec4549714127)