“It’d Be A Shame To Share It”

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You’ve probably seen the photograph above doing the rounds… You may even have believed the mild-mannered left-leaning person who shared it when they told you that the Tories were doing all they could to remove it from the internet. You may have felt like you were furthering a cause by sharing it on, making those bloody Tories’ job just a little bit harder. I mean, that photo deserves to be seen, right?!

Wrong. It’s all bullshit. It’s a simple photoshopped job, using an old Volkswagen advert (below) as a base. It simply isn’t true. Sure, you might be saying “Savile DID have links to the Tories, so the point stands…” and yes, he did, you’re right. But isn’t there enough for us to attack the Tories for? Instead of sharing a proven-fake image inaccurately linking the party to a predatory paedophile why not share reports about the alleged Paedophile ring active within Westminster? Plenty of old Tories’ names thrown about in that, along with names from other parties too. If it’s a paedo-link you’re after, go for gold!

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Or maybe this: George Osborne delivered one of the most barefaced, cruel budgets ever last week. A budget in which he may have just hidden £650m of cuts to the NHS. The blowback from the announcement that sick and disabled claimants would lose up to £30 a week, (which would then essentially be given to the richest in the form of another tax break) resulted in the shocking and unexpected resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary and the man often cited as the most cruel and vindictive opponent of fairness and equality in the party. IDS somehow managed to resign, claim the moral high ground and get himself seen as “the Tory with a soul”, all by abandoning his own department’s policy! I know. It’s disgusting, isn’t it? Attacking the disabled, using them to make yourself look good. A dirty trick, I’m sure you’d all agree.

Why, then, am I seeing so many “thoughtful and caring” lefties sharing the image below all over social media? We’re meant to look at it and think “what a prick that Tory is, having a snooze while the lives of the downtrodden are trodden down further still!” Even the BBC have shared this image in the past.

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Five minutes on Google would tell you that this is Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke, who happens to be registered hard of hearing. In this photo he’s leaning in to listen to the amplifier imbedded in the bench, so he can hear what’s going on. As I’ve commented, attack his voting record by all means, but maybe do so less hypocritically. These people are LITERALLY attacking a disabled man to make their point look better. It’s a good enough point, guys. You don’t have to resort to misrepresentation and all out lies to get it across!

The double standards and sheer underhanded trickery of these kinds of tactics give both “wings” a bad rep. A jaded old idealist like me has come to expect this use of crooked dark arts from the Right, but the Left are no better I’m ashamed to witness. I’m embarrassed to have to continually tweet or message people I know and respect – decent people who do a lot of good for those less fortunate than themselves – asking them to look a little deeper into the emotive images they are sharing; asking them to stop spreading lies because we don’t need to: there’s enough blood on Tory hands as it is. Use facts. Use figures. Provide links to supporting information. There’s plenty out there to back up the assertion that the Conservative party are waging class war.

But the sharing of doctored images, deliberate misquotation and bare-faced lies is doing your fight for “the left” no good at all. It serves only to show that you’re prepared to sink as low as your opponent, that you can’t be arsed to find out what real damage they’re doing, that you’d rather take the Tabloid Headline approach rather than the moral high ground. Stop it, for fuck sake. The Tories are GIFTING you bad press to share. Leave the lies alone. It’s like planting a body under Fred and Rose West’s patio to get him caught – unnecessary and no better than them, when it comes down to it.

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Talking of lies: I mentioned a few paragraphs up that Iain Duncan Smith resigned over the cuts to be made to disability benefit – cuts his own department would have to sign off on – and therefore claimed the title of “the Tory with a soul” among some. I think we’re giving him too much credit. I put it to you that the true reason for his resignation has nothing at all to do with welfare cuts and everything to do with dodging a bigger bullet.

I put it to you that Iain Duncan Smith resigned over something on moral grounds just days before the publication of “potentially embarrassing DWP memos“. Memos his office has been fighting in the courts to suppress. For four years the Department for Work and Pensions has fought Freedom Of Information requests for memos pertaining to the introduction of Universal Credit, a thorn in the DWP’s side for a long time. These memos, it appears, would have shown the rollout of the controversial replacement welfare payment system to be an unmitigated failure, missing sign-up targets by so much they might as well have not bothered at all. A fuck up of this size would inevitably require a symbolic head to roll, wouldn’t it? And the man responsible for the scheme would be IDS. He’d have to have gone. Now though? All this is swept under the rug in favour of stories about ‘just how bloody moral and decent and principled a man he really is’.

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Of course, I don’t know for a fact that this is the true reason for his resignation – I can’t say for certain he was jumping before he was pushed – I’m just putting it out there. What I do know is that a resignation of this magnitude can only damage a party. It shows a distinct lack of faith in haunted ventriloquist’s dummy and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s economic credibility. It also puts Cameron in an awkward situation, now that his Conservative Ministers are openly briefing against each other on social media – what a shambles of a government we’re seeing. I only hope we’re seeing it in its death throes. I predict we may see Cameron step down as PM as soon as the EU referendum is out of the way. What has he got to lose?

I’ll wrap this up because I’m going off-point: Dishonest, misleading and untrue information does nobody any good. You will be called out on it, that’s a fact. Someone, somewhere (often me) will be sitting, waiting to fact-check your latest attack. I hate to play devil’s advocate, but the Left are as bad, if not worse, than the Right for using opportunistic images and a reliance on public ignorance to further their cause. It’s unnecessary, it’s ugly and it makes them look like pricks. And, be honest, you know as well as I do that nobody from Facebook, from the Tory party or from whatever big, scary organisation you care to mention is “trying to remove [anything] from the internet”, don’t you? Also, those “Likes and Amens” do nothing but make you look daft and leave you open to marketing scams. Don’t be so bloody gullible!

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So if you’re attacking the Tories online please use any of the myriad valid and truthful reasons to do so. But do so often, and do so with passion. Call them out on their crooked deals, their unfair cuts and their backdoor privatisations. Then, with your help and mine, maybe Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour can win in 2020 (or before? Hope so!).

UPDATE: New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has announced that the cuts to disability benefits (PIP), that his predecessor supposedly resigned over, will now NOT go ahead. This means that, when MPs come to vote on the budget this week, they’ll be voting for a Budget with a £4bn hole in it; an unprecedented occurrence that surely makes the position of the man who wrote it up untenable. I predict we’ll see George Osborne resigning soon. Watch this space.

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