Alistair Carmichael: crying abuse is a loser’s argument
When Ruth wrote, Alistair Carmichael: When will the skullduggery end she probably didn’t think it would be that much longer until he slipped off into the shadows.
Little did she predict he’d be up to his old tricks again. Trying to tarnish a whole movement and its leadership by the acts of a minority. It’s a low form of politics but it is the only form Carmichael knows.
He said of how the SNP deal with cybernat abuse:
I have a suspicion that they don’t tackle it because, frankly, it makes their internal party management easier if their obsessives are focused outwards rather than focusing inwards. I just don’t understand why anybody who does want a rational, reasoned mature debate would do that. These are the people who have the opportunity to do more. It’s up to them to decide how they want to do their politics but I don’t think, ultimately, it’s healthy.
He is deploying a terribly weak argument here. It is the argument of someone who is on the losing side and has nothing left to deploy except for smears.
This is the truth of the matter.
Carmichael cheated and lied in order to get elected to parliament and gain the power, connections and the lucrative remuneration that comes with the job. A court case showed that he misled the public in order to win but he was found not to have broken the law on a technicality.
People were rightfully angry about this, as a lot of people still believe that politicians shouldn’t be cheats and liars. Also, a lot of people, many of whom struggle to make ends meet, get pretty upset with someone earning a lot of money doing a job they obtained through underhand methods.
Anyway, Carmichael got away with it and kept his job but there was a sting in the tail for him in that he was ordered to pay his own legal fees. People saw this as at least some sort of punishment but then a LibDem dominated trust fund stepped in and paid the fees for him. More about the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd (JRRT) later.
Millions of people were justifiably angry at seeing a man get away with cheating the public and democracy for his own personal gain. They were angry at the establishment banding together to protect someone who had damaged the integrity of the system.
Still, the vast majority of them did not abuse Carmichael. That said, when you have a large group of angry people, in the modern world of quick, anonymous communication, a small minority of those angry people will send abuse.
It is not the job of the SNP to stop people who may have nothing to do with them sending abusive tweets. In the same way as it would be unreasonable to expect Carmichael to police every Lib Dem supporters’ Instagram or pro union facebook page.
That said the SNP did introduce the Threatening Communications Act that stipulates that a:
(1)A person commits an offence if—
(a)the person communicates material to another person, and
(b)either Condition A or Condition B is satisfied.
(2)Condition A is that—
(a)the material consists of, contains or implies a threat, or an incitement, to carry out a seriously violent act against a person or against persons of a particular description,
(b)the material or the communication of it would be likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm, and
(c)the person communicating the material—
(i)intends by doing so to cause fear or alarm, or
(ii)is reckless as to whether the communication of the material would cause fear or alarm.
So despite the fact that it is ludicrous to expect Sturgeon to stop individuals from losing their rag with corrupt politicians, her party did actually create a legal avenue which Carmichael can use to deal with the issue. If you are getting abusive communications then call the police.
The argument used by Carmichael is what we are seeing used all the time by the establishment. They ignore the abuses on their side and throw mud at the opposition. They can do so as most of the mainstream media is on their side.
We can see the tactic being used against the likes of Corbyn. It is used to silence debate in a situation where the establishment is losing the argument and is ultimately about to lose control.
When Carmichael got his legal fees paid for him by the JRRT I was at first annoyed that the establishment were ganging up to help one of their own. Then I saw it as an opportunity. I thought these folk must have money to burn. They support political campaigns so why don’t I submit a proposal to them to get some funding for the site? So I did and the reply came back:
While some of the objectives you mention – advancing the cause of electoral reform or federalism, for example – are held in common with the Trust, the outline does not make clear how a grant towards the blog would further these aims as a focused, self-standing political campaign. If you were planning a series of content around a particular issue of reform, say, and could demonstrate that it might have a greater or different reach than existing platforms featuring an unusual range of voices, there might be a case for considering something. However, what you have put forward at this stage sounds more like core funding. On that basis, I’m afraid I cannot encourage you to progress to a full application at the moment. You may like to consider whether there are clearer campaigns the organisation would want to run, and what opportunities there may be for these to have an impact, and then come back to me at that point?
This reply from them was fair enough, I was being a chancer and they are actually just applying their rules. It should be noted however, by paying money to Carmichael they basically said, sod our rules, it’s our fund and we can give money to whoever we want.
It is this double standard that annoys people. The establishment ensures that Carmichael can get away with things most of us couldn’t and it makes sure he doesn’t suffer financially. Until this is resolved, lots of normal people will get angry with crooked establishment figures like Carmichael; and unfortunately it is inevitable that some of those will send abuse.
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