The Right Should Not Engage In Cancel Culture Hypocrisy | Benjamin Woods

A few weeks ago we all thought the first test Keir Starmer would face would be the locals and the Scottish and Welsh elections. Important as they are, they wouldn’t have been a direct assessment of Sir Keir’s leadership or the Parliamentary Labour Party. That all changed on the 16th March when Labour MP Mike Hill, MP for Hartlepool, resigned “with immediate effect”. This followed the announcement of an employment tribunal later this year looking into “sexual harassment and victimisation” claims. A by-election one year on from the start of Starmer’s leadership is a critical test in anyone’s book. 

The party in government seldom holds seats in by-elections let alone gain them. In fact, there have been only two by-election wins for a government since 1982, the only one this millennium coming under Starmer’s predecessor. Moreover, since its creation, Labour has won every election held stretching back to 1974 in the constituency of Hartlepool. A done deal then?

However, it’s not that simple. Hartlepool remains one of the few remaining red bricks of Labours wall of Jericho that gave Boris Johnson his majority in 2019. Moreover, in 2019 Labour’s vote share in the seat plummeted by nearly 15% leading to a majority of under four thousand over the Conservatives, with the Brexit Party picking up nearly eleven thousand votes. It is unclear that now Brexit is done whether traditional Labour voters will return to the party. Still, in a seat that voted 70% to leave the European Union, Labour’s pick of a candidate that advocates rejoining is a risky move.

So while Labour shouldn’t lose it, it’s not hard to see how they could, and the importance of this by-election for Starmer’s credibility should not be underestimated. As a result, you would expect a hard fight brewing on the critical issues of the day, but no. Instead, the debate centres around a joke made a whole decade ago. 

This is the sort of tactic we have come to expect from the left. Attacking and cancelling people because they dared offend someone’s feelings at some point in their past. However, this time, the snowflakes are not the woke left but hypocrites on the right who do not practice what they preach.

In a tweet sent in 2011, the Labour Hartlepool candidate Dr Paul Williams wrote, “Do you have a favourite Tory MILF?”. The offending tweet has since been deleted, and an apology was issued for it.

As far as I’m concerned, he made a joke a decade ago using inappropriate language and apologised for it. Big deal. Move on. I innocently expected that would be the conclusion of everyone else too. After all, his political opponents on the right are supposed to be leading the charge against ‘cancel culture’ and so wouldn’t be so hypocritical as to attempt to cancel someone themselves. Would they?

You can always tell when someone truly believes in what they say by whether they are prepared to defend their opponents. The famous quote from Voltaire springs to mind “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, and the same principle applies to cancel culture. You can’t kick up a fuss when conservatives are getting no-platformed, and people are losing their jobs for things they said if you then remain silent or even join in with calls for the Labour candidate to lose his candidacy because of a stupid decade-old joke.

In ten to twenty years, the vast majority of MP’s will have had a social media presence since their teens. If you are suggesting that no one who’s ever written a slightly offensive joke should be able to stand, then we better hope that we have AI candidates to stand in the election because you are sure as hell not going to find a human who matches your saintly requirements.

Are those attacking Dr Williams selection because of this tweet seriously suggesting that in the last decade, they have not made a single joke that someone may take offence at? Seriously? Those on the right who feebly defend cancel culture for short term political gain, claiming that the left only do the same, undermine the very values they claim to hold. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of legitimate reasons to attack the arch remain, previously defeated, parachute candidate.

Unfortunately, the case of Dr Williams is but one example of the hypocritical right. It amazes me that we keep wondering why the left is winning the so-called culture war when it is us on the right who are winning it for them with our own hypocrisy.

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