A fact isn’t the same as a smear, David

The right wing is trying to depict Andy Burnham’s latest observations on DD as a “smear”. Apparently, any criticism of the Hero of Haltemprice is to be viewed in this way from now until 10 July.

Andy pointed out that he thought it strange that the Director of Liberty, the perpetually angry Shami Chakrabarti, should allow herself to be so publicly associated with a hanger and flogger. Where in that observation is the smear? That he is being supported by Ms Chakrabarti? That he is a supporter of capital punishment? These are all matters of public record and cannot, therefore, be described as “smear”.

Desperate for the publicity, however, and for the lifeline of some actual opposition in his one-man crusade, DD has leapt at the chance to depict himself as the victim. He said tonight that GB’s henchmen “were out and about to attack me personally rather than engage in rational debate. Labour has now resorted to personal smears and lies rather than make its case for 42-day detention.”

You wish, mate. Pointing out an often-repeated fact about DD’s political views is not a smear. I would bet him that DD’s personal circus is occupying little or no discussion time in Downing Street or, indeed, in any pub in the land.

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6 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, Media, Parliament, Politics

6 responses to “A fact isn’t the same as a smear, David

  1. No, it’s not a smear, you’re right.
    However, Labour still aren’t making the case for 42 days, and I don’t think libertarians see much issue in backing Davis on this issue whilst setting aside his views on capital punishment. The old clothes peg comes in handy more often than just in elections.

  2. Evan Price

    When the commentary descends to talking about ‘late-night , hand-wringing, heart-melting’ phonecalls, I disagree. That the two are close on the issue of 42 days is clear and if Burnham had not used the adjectives he did, the claims of a smear would have less justification … the clear implication of going beyond professional contacts in Burnham’s statement are a ‘smear’.

    The fact that Burnham, a professional politician, says that he didn’t mean it that way is interesting … and not really credible.

  3. Auntie Flo' - proud to be a member of Liberty

    I totally disagree with you. Andy Burnham’s, entirely gratuitous, “heart-melting phone calls” allegation is not a matter of the public record. It’s a nasty, seedy smear.

    A few examples below of the condemnation being heaped on Andy Burnham by people of all parties for his sickning and disgraceful “Late night, hand wringing, heart-melting phone calls” attack on Shami and Davis:

    “Frankly, this turns my stomach and it should be beneath a member of the cabinet”

    Susan Kramer, Lib Dem front bench

    People should not make allegations unless they can substantiate them. Just because a man talks to a woman it does not mean they are having an affair”

    Geraldine Smith, Labour MP

    “If the director of Liberty had been a man, would Andy Burnham have said it? When ministers behave in this way, then it debases politics”

    Eleanor Laing, Conservative shadow justice minister

    And you have the cheek to pick on Shami again with this comment. You and Andy Burnham should be ashamed of yourselves.

  4. Auntie Flo'

    In common with most members of Liberty, I believe Shami Chakrabarti to be the finest Director we have ever had.

    You state:

    “Andy [Burnham] pointed out that he thought it strange that the Director of Liberty, the perpetually angry Shami Chakrabarti, should allow herself to be so publicly associated with a hanger and flogger. ”

    Tony Benn, one of our greatest and finest politicians, is sharing a platform with David Davis to fight 42 day internment and the erosion of our civil liberties. Good for him!

    Yet Burnham hasn’t attempted to smear or attack Tony Benn with seedy innuendoes about “Late night, hand wringing, heart-melting phone calls”, has he? Nor have you unfairly stereotyped TB as “the perpetually angry” Tony Benn – as you have stereotyped Shami Chakrabarti.

    How odd.

    Could that be because Tony Benn is male and one of the most respected members of your own party?

    Harriet Harman has put her oar in against Shami too.

    She told ITV News: “when I was at Liberty I did not support people who opposed the Human Rights Act and were in favour of the death penalty”

    That may be true, Ms Harman, however you’re quite happy to carry ministerial responsibility for a government that sucks up to Chinese government and war criminal Bush, despite their appalling and continuing crimes against humanity. But then, I suppose there’s not much you can say about that since your government has its own share of war criminals – Blair and Brown for starters. What a selective idea of ethics and human rights youre government has, Tom.

    And what a strange and selective idea of personal ethical conduct Ms Harriet Harman has. She – rightly – condemns capital punishment, yet was not adverse to risking putting others lives at risk when she was caught speeding at around 100 mph.

  5. Jon

    Hello Tom,

    This is a frustrating piece, given how pleased I was that you raised the “happiness in Britain debate” (even if I thought it somewhat strange you had no ideas as to why people in the UK are less than happy these days). For the record, I am left wing, and am not at all endorsing the Daily Mail (whose views I regularly regard as selfish and uncharitable).

    I think you are entirely right to remind people of Davis’ pro-capital punishment views, and it is fine to point out that they arguably stand at odds with his position on detention without charge. You may also, of course, freely remind people that Davis supported 28-days, and still seems to, whilst continuing to call himself a libertarian.

    But Flo and Evan, in previous posts here, are entirely right. It is just not acceptable for Burnham to imply that there is something romantic between the director of Liberty and Davis, just because they agree on an issue and that they have spoken on the telephone about it. It is gutter politics to try to imply that a hidden agenda is at work here, even if Burnham later claims to be only joking. I’d hope that his colleagues, if they prefer not to speak out against him to avoid “damaging the government”, would at least not offer him automatic party-political support for his silly remarks.

    Facts aren’t the same as smears, this much is true. But the idea that a hidden relationship is involved in this case, and should in some way cause us to view Davis’ resignation in a poor light, is not a fact – it’s a smear. The strange thing is, despite the substantial coverage of the article in question, you haven’t mentioned the “late night, hand wringing, heart-melting” comments at all in your post.

  6. Jon – I just thought Shami (and everyone else) over-reacted. I know Andy reasonably well, and I’m 100 per cent sure he didn’t intend seriously to impugne anyone’s reputation. He was winding her up, nothing more. And it seems to have worked.

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