Wednesday 12 July was a year on from one of the most infamous incidents of 2016. And while it was the date that Theresa May officially became PM, it was also the anniversary of something else. The now-infamous ‘brickgate’ saga…
One year on
As The Canary reported last year, Wallasey MP Angela Eagle’s staff called the police after a suspected brick was thrown through a window in the building where her office is. At the time, the perpetrators were widely thought by Eagle and the corporate media to be pro-Corbyn ‘thugs‘. The incident happened at the height of the last Labour leadership election. Eagle, who was fighting to win the leadership battle herself, said at the time:
They are being done in his name and he needs to get control of the people who are supporting him and make certain that this behaviour stops and stops now. It is bullying, it has absolutely no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded by saying:
As someone who has also received death threats this week and previously, I am calling on all Labour Party members and supporters to act with calm and treat each other with respect and dignity, even where there is disagreement. I utterly condemn any violence or threats, which… have no place in our politics.
Brickgate falls apart
But since the incident, people have raised questions about what actually happened; and about whether it was an attack on Eagle and her office at all. This is because:
- The window was not actually her office, but a communal stairwell.
- There was already non-political vandalism in the surrounding area.
- Just two days after the ‘attack’, the campaign group Fathers for Justice held a rooftop protest on the same building.
- Wirral Council has classed the area, and specifically the office building, as being a “hot spot” for anti-social behaviour.
- The police confirmed there was no evidence a brick had broken the window.
- Police have never charged anyone over the incident.
Then, in February this year, the blog site Wirral In It Together sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO said Merseyside Police had told it:
The person who logged the incident [‘Brickgate’] reported ‘just one big window in the hallway’ [was attacked]… They added that ‘The person reporting the damage is likely to have known if any damage had been caused to the constituency office window, but no such damage was reported to the police’.
So it would appear that Eagle and her staff did not even report the incident as being an attack on her office; but as an attack on the communal building where it is situated.
Maybe Eagle believed it was “Momentum thugs” that smashed the communal window, as Labour MP Ben Bradshaw called the perpetrators, without evidence. She may have been genuinely afraid for her safety. No one is denying this. But the incident is still pertinent, in light of a parliamentary debate on Wednesday 12 July about the abuse of MPs.
Numerous MPs have suffered appalling abuse. As The Guardian documented, the likes of Labour’s Diane Abbott and Luciana Berger and the Conservative Party’s Ameet Jogia and Anna Soubry have been subject to some awful treatment, merely because of their political beliefs. And while abuse of this nature should not be tolerated, ‘brickgate’ should not be tolerated, either. Because when an incident of what may well have been mindless vandalism is cynically twisted for political purposes, it degrades politics. It also makes a mockery of the real victims of abuse.
So Brickgate may be a year old, but it is certainly not forgotten.
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