Monday, 4 January 2016

The Incontinent Indiscretions of Simon Danczuk

by Les May
ON Saturday 9 December my local paper ran a story headed 'Online "death threat" to Syria air strikes MP'.  The MP in question was Simon Danczuk and he said he had reported the threat to the police.  Hopefully he did this before reporting it to the press. 

If I appear mildly sceptical about this story it's because we have heard nothing more about it.  The police take things like this extremely seriously and a couple of days ago Craig Wallace was jailed for making an online threat to Bristol North MP Charlotte Leslie after the Syria vote. 

In the same article the ever imaginative Mr D. accused John McDonnell of making a 'veiled threat' against him.  It seems that speaking to the Momentum group McDonnell had said, 'Simon is Simon...  you just have to work with him. Eventually we'll resolve the matter.' and 'In an amicable way I will convince him to my way of thinking.' 

Danczuk's take on this was that McDonnell's comments were  'undeniably sinister' and 'I regard what he said and how he said it (was he there?) as a veiled threat'.  What should have worried Simon was that his name was greeted with laughter from the audience. 

Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in September Mr D has worked hard to construct the myth that he was always on the point of being kicked out of the Labour party for his constant attacks on Corbyn.  In spite of the level of grassroots support for this, Corbyn and his closest allies must have realised that such a move would be taken as confirmation that the party had been taken over by extremists intolerant of criticism. 

In this Danczuk was egged on by both the Sun and the Daily Mail which were ever ready to give him a platform for his attacks on Corbyn.  Whether he actually wrote the articles himself we do not know, but presumably he was well paid for his name being at the top of them. 

This strategy of trying to force the Labour party to self destruct in a barrage of recriminations did not work.  Far from it.  As the Mail article of 24 October made clear, when Simon met Jeremy the previous Wednesday the meeting was entirely cordial.  Corbyn seems to have leant over backwards to extend a friendly hand to Danczuk.  This patient approach began to pay off.  As Nigel Morris of the Independent pointed out  on New Year's day, 'His open and indiscriminate defiance of Mr Corbyn dismayed right-leaning supporters, who feared he was becoming a joke figure ...  ' 

But all this came crashing down on New Year's Eve when, having served as a 'useful idiot' for the Sun and Mail Danczuk found himself front page news and being described by these same papers in terms not dissimilar to those he had been happy to use about Cyril Smith when trying to paint him as a predatory paedophile. 

If we dispense with the 'post facto rationalisation' indulged in by the media Danczuk's 'crime' was that he responded to unsolicited texts from a young woman with replies containing sexual innuendo.  They read to me like an extremely clumsy attempt at flirting.  As one might expect the media reports see his antics in a different light.  The text messages were 'vile'. The young woman has become a 'young girl'

In fact she was seventeen and judging by the amount of cleavage showing on her Twitter page certainly doesn't think of herself as a child.  According to the Daily Record her replies to his overtures included her saying she was 'turned on' and imagining 'moaning' Mr Danczuk’s name.  The Sunday Mirror carried an article telling readers that she was a self described 'financial dominatrix' operating over the web who greeted clients with the phrase 'Hello Piggy Losers', before enticing men into becoming her 'money slaves', 'cash cows' and 'pay pigs'.  It is hardly a picture of childlike innocence which emerges! 

But all this presents a dilemma for his party.  Labour had to act and to be seen to act decisively.  They've done that by suspending him from the party and withdrawing the whip which means he will have to sit as an Independent.  In six to eight weeks he will have to appear before the National Executive and explain himself.  Whether a charge that he exploited his position as a potential employer whilst exchanging texts full of sexual innuendo with someone under the age of 18 could be made to stick I'm sceptical.  Much will depend upon the wording of the first texts the pair exchanged. 

What is clear it that Danczuk is a fool who showed himself to be completely incapable of exercising proper judgement.  The best (and worst if one is wishes to avoid moralising) that one can say about his antics is that his behaviour was 'inappropriate'.  But that's quite sufficient to allow a charge of 'bringing the party into disrepute'.    

Danczuk 'has form' when it comes to accusations of 'bringing the party into disrepute'.  The difference is that this time he will be the accused not the one making the complaint. 

On 11 July this year the Mail on Sunday carried an article by David Rose headed 'The dark side of the Danczuks: A Spanish family holiday suddenly abandoned'.  A text that read:
‘I’m scared.  A claim of threats to kill... Disturbing questions about the MP who crusades against abuse'.  The incident reported by Rose led to five long serving members of Rochdale Labour party being expelled and two suspended after they wrote to the local paper in late 2008 saying that the matter should be investigated. 

Unsurprisingly one of those expelled is calling for Danczuk to be dumped by the Rochdale party, and for the role of the North West Regional Labour Party in disciplining the seven members to be looked at again in the light of recent events. 

It would be fitting if this did happen but it may not be the wisest course of action.  Already we have Tory MPs claiming that Danczuk has been 'stitched up like a kipper by the Corbyn cronies' and that he has been suspended for being a critic of Corbyn.  And whilst the Sun and Mail as the finest representatives of the 'street of shame' may have lovingly served up Danczuk for our delectation, if he is unceremoniously dumped he could become an instant martyr for them if they so choose. 

It may be better for Labour to keep him at arms length for as long as possible without actually sacking him. Speaking to the Sunday Mirror former girlfriend Claire Hamilton said he had vowed to stand as an Independent but not do any campaigning if his career was threatened. She added:
'He said he wanted to make sure Labour lost the seat he won for them.' 

Even at the risk of prolonging the agony the Labour party needs to conduct a thorough investigation into the bizarre events involving death threats and wreaths which occurred at the time of Danczuk's selection as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rochdale in 2007, his involvement in all the events leading up to the expulsion of five members of the Rochdale Labour party in 2009, and whether his constituency office or anyone employed by him had any involvement in using Cavendish Media to promote a video which falsely purported to show Rochdale Labour Councillor Farooq Ahmed smoking cannabis in 2011, and/or in the circulation of an e-mail smearing the then Leader of Rochdale Council Colin Lambert in November 2012.

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