LONDON (Labour Buzz) - Do you think the government should look after those who lose their jobs because of the pandemic? Do you support free school meals continuing through February half term? If so, Boris Johnson thinks you’re a fascist.
That was the remarkable claim in messages to Tory MPs on the eve of Labour’s vote urging the government to extend the increase to Universal credit and offer free school meals through February half term.
In a Whatsapp message to MPs Johnson said:
“We can be proud of what we are doing to tackle all the consequences of the pandemic and if Labour decides to stop playing politics and to stop inciting the worst kind of hatred and bullying (of a kind seen sadly across the Atlantic) then I may think again about legislatively vacuous opposition debates.”
The Conservative’s Chief Whip has urged MPs to abstain from the motion rather than vote against it and risk, what they see as ‘abuse’ from Labour activists.
“I know that many of you are thirsting to give battle and vote against all Labour motions but after the shameful way in which they used their army of momentum trolls last time to misrepresent the outcome and to lie about its meaning and frankly to intimidate and threaten colleagues – especially female colleagues – I have decided not to give them that opportunity.”
Johnson’s comments highlight the heady mix of callousness, hypocrisy and self-pity which typify this Government. Throughout the crisis, they have had to be shamed into doing the right thing. They had to be forced into lockdown, forced into supporting workers and forced into closing schools.
Repeatedly they have fought tooth and nail against providing free school meals. When public outrage finally shamed them into doing the right thing, they tried to turn it into a business opportunity for their friends.
While bizarrely claiming that parents were using free school meal vouchers to buy drugs, they paid contractors over the odds to deliver paltry morsels which would barely cover a meal, let alone ten days.
When caught out they attempted to blame the companies, until Starmer pointed out at the PMQs that the meals shown in the pictures almost perfectly matched the guidance given by the government. Worse still it later emerged that Steven Forster, an executive of Chartwells, is chair of the organisation which set the rules for the parcels.
To do all and still play the victim is quite a leap, even for Johnson.
Instead, it is Johnson and his supporters who resort to abuse. Mothers who complained about the paltry offerings they received in food packages face a torrent of abuse from Tory supporters online.
The Twitter user @roadsidemum, whose picture adorned the front page of the Guardian described the abuse she is receiving online.
“I don't like nasty people saying things about me,” she wrote. “It hurts my feelings. Seems unfair when I've had a really horrible time, tried so hard, and only ever wanted a happy ending and positive result for FSM kids. Seems not everyone thinks of the kids. What a way to do business.”
The same is true for nurses who tweet about shortages in ICUs. They have to put up with campaigners, right-wing commentators and general Twitter crazies, calling them liars.
Lawyers, meanwhile, have found themselves bearing the brunt of Johnson’s abuse. After Johnson and Priti Patel attacked ‘activist lawyers’ many people in the legal profession have faced abuse and death threats.
It took an even more sinister term last year when a man attacked staff at a law firm with a knife. The firm claimed he had been inspired by Johnson’s comments. Top lawyers wrote to the Home Secretary urging her to tone down the rhetoric. Instead, both she and Johnson cranked it up.
The reality is that it’s Johnson taking us down the path towards scenes such as those witnessed at the Capitol. The culture war is his way of covering up for his own incompetence. He has stoked up hatred, fostered division and tried to play the victim while doing it.
(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Klaudia Fior)