The BBC‘s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted on 6 December about the cancellation of a Boris Johnson speech. But she left out one revealing fact.
Johnson stump speech in Rochester cancelled on police advice
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) December 6, 2019
But what was it, exactly, that caused the cancellation?
Well, according to the Independent, Johnson “cancelled a speech to members of the public in Rochester after a small number of protesters turned up”. In fact, it seems that the attendance of just five protesters forced Johnson’s hand – a perspective that was totally missing from Kuenssberg’s tweet.
Johnson was due to speak to Tory activists in a “small pub car park” in the Kent town of Rochester. But he was running late. And as the Independent reported, Conservative officials argued that “the late running of the event prompted security concerns” and that:
“security officials” had voiced worries about some members of the crowd
So it seems that Johnson’s team cancelled the speech because around five protesters had turned up, holding signs like “No to racism, no to Boris Johnson” and “Austerity killed over 130,000, the blood is on your hands”.
Man boldly waving sign that proclaims ‘20k new police officers’ (21k have been cut by the tories) in front of one that condemns the needless deaths under a Tory lead govt- all to a laughing crowd of which I’m guessing also think austerity is a joke. Rochester on a normal one pic.twitter.com/FW06wydumv
— Tobi🚩🏳️🌈 (@Tobiidas1) December 6, 2019
This was shortly before the Boris Johnson event here in Rochester was cancelled – police move around five protesters with placards saying “Austerity killed over 130,000 – the blood is on your hands” and “No to racism, no to Boris Johnson”. pic.twitter.com/7FiMSayCVe
— Benjamin Kentish (@BenKentish) December 6, 2019
The public could see this as yet another embarrassing cop-out from Johnson. Because this is far from the first time he’s apparently cancelled a public event for fear of protesters holding him to account. In mid-November, for example, Johnson seemingly pulled out of a visit to a bakery in Glastonbury because of protests while blaming security concerns. Incoherent ramblings, embarrassing gaffes and hospital boos, meanwhile, have made his campaign team fully aware of the need to control his public appearances as much as possible.
Kuenssberg’s tweet, however, could easily have been a Conservative Party press release.
Johnson fears public scrutiny, for good reason
A decade of failed ideological austerity from the Conservative Party has been disastrous for the NHS, education, and social housing. It has also overseen skyrocketing foodbank usage and attacked some of the most vulnerable people in Britain. A 2018 UN investigation, meanwhile, found that “14 million people, a fifth of the population” now “live in poverty”.
As writer Francesca Martinez has pointed out, at least 130,000 people have “died because the Tories and the Lib Dems decided to make ordinary people pay for a crash caused by bankers, who we bailed out”. Tory welfare changes have hit disabled people particularly hard; and Martinez says Tory-led governments have “blood on their hands” as a result.
Millionaire Boris Johnson, meanwhile, backed this austerity as an MP. And as prime minister, he has formed a hard-right government in Margaret Thatcher’s image, with critics calling him an “ardent Thatcherite” and even “worse than Thatcher”. Members of his government have proudly argued for even further cuts to public services and the welfare state. Johnson and his party, meanwhile, have a horrific record of bigotry of all kinds and are currently facing an Islamophobia crisis.
Kuenssberg may argue that ignoring protesters helps to keep her ‘neutral’. But by failing to tell the public that Johnson is running away from completely legitimate criticism and scrutiny, she is doing both herself and her followers a monumental disservice. Britain deserves so much better.
Featured image via BBC News
Do your bit for independent journalism
Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.
We need you to help out, if you can.
When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.
You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.
In return you get:
- Advert free reading experience
- Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
- 20% discount from our shop