Three Labour MPs, all of whom are vehemently opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, have ignored widespread calls to apologise after joining in with now entirely debunked attacks on a pro-Corbyn Shadow Cabinet Minister suggesting that she had intentionally refused to answer “hard questions” from journalists about Labour’s long-standing antisemitism furore.
On Saturday, a selectively-edited video was posted to Twitter by Gareth Milner, a journalist for the hard-right CapX website and a former Tory staffer, showing an advisor to Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, Laura Pidcock, arguing with journalists about their line of questioning at the Durham Miners’ Gala.
The video shows Pidcock’s advisor tell journalists that it was “really unfair” of them to primarily focus their questions on the current debate around Labour antisemitism and not the Miners’ Gala, as they had apparently told him they would:
“[…]that was really unfair – you said you’d be talking about the Gala […] is there anybody who wants to talk about the Gala?”
— Gareth Milner (@sw1a0aa) July 13, 2019
Responding to the video, Wes Streeting, a Labour MP and a longstanding critic of Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted that Labour Shadow Ministers should “get used” to “hard questions on Labour’s appalling handling of antisemitism“, and asserted that Pidcock should “attack racism, not the media“:
I appreciate hard questions on Labour’s appalling handling of antisemitism are uncomfortable, but if you’re a shadow minister get used to it. Better still, do something to sort it out. Attack racism, not the media. pic.twitter.com/tP0dgT4qwl
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) July 13, 2019
Following Streeting’s attack, two other anti-Corbyn Labour MPs, Phil Wilson and Rosie Duffield, both tweeted their own takes, with Wilson stating that he has “no problem answering the anti-semitism question“, whilst Duffield questioned whether Pidcock wanted the media to simply “ignore” the Labour antisemitism furore:
.@SkyNews I have no problem answering the anti-semitism question. I was at the miners gala & asked about both. The Gala is a great tradition, my dad was 40 years a miner. On anti-semitism Jeremy Corbyn should apologise on behave of @UKLabour cos if I was him I’d be mortified. https://t.co/AxZhuAPrF3
— PhilWilsonMP (@MPphilwilson) July 13, 2019
Have any of us done any interviews or media in the last few months, years even, where at least one of the lines of questioning haven't been about antisemitism….? Are the Press just supposed to ignore it?
— Rosie Duffield MP (@RosieDuffield1) July 13, 2019
However, shortly after the three attacks, Pidcock responded, claiming that that she had actually answered questions about Labour’s antisemitism furore from the assembled journalists “at length“, stating:
“I answered those questions [on Labour’s antisemitism situation] at length actually, and then my Parliamentary Assistant reminded the gathered journalists of the subject of the session. This was ignored again. While I continued to answer the questions asked, at the end of the session my assistant and I pointed out that this wasn’t fair, because it wasn’t what we’d agreed.”
“In the meantime, someone who was in the press session (and a former Tory staffer, as it happens) filmed this and posted the footage to Twitter in a way which suggests I was refusing to answer difficult questions. I did not. In fact. I answered those questions on antisemitism for around 10 minutes. Whether journalists choose to use that footage is a matter for them, but that is the truth of the matter.”
I’m not going to get into a Twitter spat about this, but there are some facts that need to be stated about a video that has been circulated from a press session I took part in yesterday morning. pic.twitter.com/yNHe4c6myj
— Laura Pidcock MP (@LauraPidcockMP) July 14, 2019
Furthermore, Ian McDonald, another journalist who was also present at the Gala, tweeted to confirm Pidcock’s account, stating:
“I filmed the whole interview that
@LauraPidcockMP did with SKY and the BBC. This clip has the end of the BBC interview and the whole of the SKY interview and all the discussions in between. As you will see, it confirms Laura’s account.”
I filmed the whole interview that @LauraPidcockMP did with SKY and the BBC. This clip has the end of the BBC interview and the whole of the SKY interview and all the discussions in between. As you will see, it confirms Laura's account. https://t.co/VFgEGDp8jk https://t.co/EWJgXHNWTi
— Ian McDonald (@IanKMcDonald) July 14, 2019
In addition to the above proof, a video has also since emerged showing Pidcock actually answering these questions on Labour antisemitism at the Gala:
Two the 2 Labour MPs who publicly accused their female colleague of refusing to answer antisemitism questions on Saturday we present You footage of said MP answering questions on antisemitism on Saturday. You incorrectly smeared your own colleague. pic.twitter.com/xWPDRg0XBi
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) July 15, 2019
However, rather than apologise for his premature attack, Streeting attempted to claim that his criticism was “not that Laura failed to answer questions” but that he supposedly disagreed with her answers:
I’m not interested in twitter spats either and happy to discuss offline. For the benefit of those tweeting me:
1. My criticism wasn’t that Laura failed to answer questions – I disagree with her answers
2. We will not get a hearing on issues whilst antisemitism remains unresolved https://t.co/ZNXCQoTFhz
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) July 15, 2019
Wilson also responded with the same excuse, claiming that he did not “say Laura hadn’t answered questions on antisemitism” but that he disagreed with her responses:
Like Laura, I’m not in to twitter spats either. Neither did I say Laura hadn’t answered questions on antisemitism. Just disagree with her response. Doesn’t go far enough, and I’m not picking on Laura because I’ve said the same about all the shadow cabinet. And yes I am mortified. https://t.co/9IF6g26tci
— PhilWilsonMP (@MPphilwilson) July 15, 2019
Both Labour MPs have, as yet, refused to stipulate exactly which of Pidcock’s answers they disagreed with.
Furthermore, the videos showing Pidcock’s answers on Labour antisemitism had not actualy been made public at the time of the three Labour MPs’ attacks.
Unsurprisingly, the refusal of three Labour MPs to apologise came in for significant criticism, with Labour supporter James Foster stating:
“Their responses, which contradict their initial tweets, affirms this.
“Rather than apologise to
@LauraPidcockMP they’ve doubled down.”
Their responses, which contradict their initial tweets, affirms this.
Rather than apologise to @LauraPidcockMP they’ve doubled down.
— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) July 15, 2019
Numerous other Labour supporters were just as scathing in their criticism:
you are a transparent liar, but regardless, which of the answers do you disagree with here? pic.twitter.com/LUfwrzNXCO
— Stan The Golden Boy (@tristandross) July 15, 2019
— Rachael Swindon #EL4C (@Rachael_Swindon) July 15, 2019
"My criticism wasn’t that Laura failed to answer questions"
Yes it was.
— 'More lies about Corbyn' (@CorbynHope) July 15, 2019
You really *should* apologise, Mr Streeting. Your ‘mistake’ has been discredited and the honest thing to do would be to admit you were wrong. When you appear on tv/in press in future, many people will begin to automatically disregard your opinion because of episodes like this.
— Rosie R (@yorkierosie) July 15, 2019
What you did is actually bullying, and from what I am learning from Twitter, it was planned and deliberate and you owe Ms Pidcock an apology. Only a coward would refuse to do so, but, then again, only a coward would have done what you did in the first place.
— macheather (@FarlaneTeri) July 15, 2019
You know if you just said "sorry I didn't check the facts before having a go at you" this would have not become such an issue.
— Chris Clee (@CCleePolitical) July 15, 2019