On top of alleged rape threats, cries of ‘Tory whore’ and the ubiquitous ‘scum’, it was recently reported that some protestors outside the Conservative party conference shouted ‘get back to Auschwitz’ at Jewish delegates wearing kippot. Manchester police have been criticised for failing to deal with this vile racist abuse. A former deputy police constable is among those condemning the way protests were handled.
Peter Walker, who retired from North Yorkshire Police in 2003, said delegates and numerous charity officials suffered “contemptible behaviour” as the Greater Manchester force permitted demonstrators to get amongst conference attendees outside the venue.
He said three serious incidents developed as anti-austerity campaigners surrounded the Midland Hotel, which included demonstrators taking control of the street outside the venue and subjecting conference attendees to obscene remarks, intimidation and jostling.
Mr Walker, who runs a construction training business in Thirsk, said: “People were in your face, spitting, telling one woman ‘you’ll get raped’ and left, among others, an elderly North Yorkshire couple really shaken.
Writing in the Guardian, John Harris points to a broader tendency of some on the left to dehumanise Conservative supporters – ignoring the fact that they would have to win some of them over to have any hope of regaining power.
On Sunday, I spent time among the anti-Tory marchers and asked them if they understood why people voted for the enemy. Granted, a demonstration is not the ideal place for deep thought, but the replies were still depressing. Conservative supporters were “uneducated”, “selfish”, and “brainwashed”. It is strange, perhaps, to meet socialists with such a dim view of their fellow human beings, but there we are.
James Bloodworth has written an excellent piece analysing this problem on the left:
There is a lack of separation in progressive politics between the respectable left and the communist left. Or put another way, the entire political space on the left is permeable, and social democrats view communists as in some vague sense ‘on the same side’ as themselves (though the feeling rarely extends the other way). Consider the following: no Tory MP will march through Trafalgar Square alongside far-right thugs holding aloft portraits of the Fuhrer; yet Jeremy Corbyn can do the same with communists and portraits of Stalin.
Laurie Penny’s muted response to such problems, unfortunately, seems all too typical.