The Holiday Inn Brighton cancelled a speaking event following a flurry of “abuse and threats”. Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, was due to speak about tackling “the outrageous levels of poverty and inequality” by way of “a democratic socialist economy”. But the Holiday Inn Brighton informed the organisers on 6 August that it had no choice but to cancel the event.
“Abuse and threats from members of the public on the phone, on email, and on social media outlets”
According to an email from the Holiday Inn booking service to Greg Hadfield, the event’s organiser, the hotel chose to cancel the event because of “abuse and threats from members of the public on the phone, on email, and on social media outlets”. Hadfield told The Canary that:
In the course of some of those calls [to the Holiday Inn]…. staff were called cunts – in repeated multiple phone calls.
The only thing I know is that I made public the Holiday Inn venue late afternoon [5 August]. And, within an hour or two, two men turned up to the venue, went up to the reception and – they were quite polite – said to them, if you go ahead with the meeting there will be “consequences”. So it was polite threatening.
Holiday Inn confirmed abuse
A staff member at the Holiday Inn initially told The Canary that they cancelled the event “due to fresh information”. But upon further questioning by The Canary, the source confirmed that anonymous individuals have been “quite abusive to their staff”. They ended by saying that they needed to protect their staff “who are just doing their job at the end of the day”.
Hadfield, a Labour Party activist, said that the operation manager, hotel manager, and general manager said that that “they’d never heard or seen anything like it”. One member of staff at the receiving end of this abuse “felt unable to go into work on 6 August”.
A “despicable assault on freedom of speech”
Williamson called these threats a “despicable assault on freedom of speech”.
He also told The Canary:
We will not be deterred by thuggery and intimidation, and I am determined that this meeting will go ahead, even if we have to hold it in the open air.
He continued, saying:
The topic of my speech is how the creation of a democratic socialist economy would address the outrageous levels of poverty and inequality in the 5th biggest economy in the world.
Right-wing Labour MPs “unleashing the dogs of war”
Hadfield explained that Labour MP Peter Kyle had previously intervened to prevent this event from happening at the Brighthelm Centre.
The important thing for me is that [the bullies] were fundamentally given permission to do so by the undemocratic intervention by Peter Kyle, an MP in the neighbouring constituency, trying to stop a fellow parliamentarian.
And in dong so, Hadfield said, Kyle had unleashed “the dogs of war”, resulting in the abuse that has since occurred.
I was due to speak on Thurs at the Holiday Inn Brighton, but they’ve had to cancel after two men turned up to threaten their staff. They also had abuse on personal social media accounts and were called “c*nts” on the phone. Will you join me in condemning this outrage, @peterkyle? pic.twitter.com/WJ7jEQVrnw
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) August 6, 2019
Media silence amid violent aggression towards the left
This is not an isolated incident either. In 2016, Thomas Mair assassinated Labour MP Jo Cox, who he considered to be a “collaborator” and traitor, for her support for refugees and migrants. In 2018, at the Labour Party conference, a bomb threat resulted in the cancellation of the premiere of WitchHunt, a film about the smearing of the anti-racist left, hosted by Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). There was shockingly muted coverage by the mainstream press, which preferred to concentrate on allegations of antisemitism.
In March 2019, a man punched Jeremy Corbyn in the head while holding an egg, yet most of the press downplayed the event. The then Conservative Party deputy chair actually celebrated it. This is despite the fact that one year previously, the Finsbury Park mosque attacker, who murdered one person and injured nine people, admitted in court that he had planned to assassinate Corbyn. The establishment press consistently played down that event, too. As they did the fact that active duty members of the British military were filmed shooting at targets with the face of the long-time anti-racist and anti-imperialist.
Diane Abbott, a black, female, pro-Corbyn MP, has been the victim of more misogynistic and racist abuse and harassment online than any other female MP, by a very wide margin, according to separate investigations by Amnesty International, the New Statesman, and the UK parliament. The irony is, of course, that it’s the right – including of the Labour Party – that claims to be victimised by those on the left.
Solidarity, not silence, is the answer
The more they feel they can get away with it, the more this right-wing coalition and its allies will increase its aggression. Which is why solidarity among progressives and the left is so important, now more than ever.
Featured image via Mohamed Elmaazi
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