One effigy hanging beneath this bridge could be Boris, but it’s hard to tell. They’re both male – or dressed as men – so the Prime Minister isn’t the target. Except the exhortation is to ‘Hang the Tories’, which presumably means all of them. And that’s really quite shocking, when you think about. This is Manchester in the 21st century, and left-wing extremists are calling for their political opponents to be hanged – not just those in government, but also those who support them, and maybe even those who voted for them. That isn’t just a hate crime; it’s incitement to murder.
“No place for such gruesome and threatening behaviour in politics”, tweeted the Bishop of Manchester, exactly 21 minutes after it was brought to his attention. “Manchester is far better than this”, he added, perhaps mindful that gruesome and threatening behaviour gets MPs stabbed to death and children blasted with shrapnel.
Who is responsible? Well, that’s an investigative matter for the police. Journalist Dan Hodges speculates:
Or perhaps it was the Socialist Workers? Neither is an unreasonable guess, given the Corbynista revolutionaries have form on this sort of ‘robustness’. And Momentum did drop their commitment to non-violence: “Momentum members should have the right to defend themselves if attacked by police or fascists,” they agreed.
And Tories are fascists, right?
So hang the Tories – they deserve it; it’s just self-defence.
But there’s a problem with the Bishop of Manchester’s rebuke: not in its piety or sincerity, but in its awareness of the actuating agency. “Manchester is far better than this,” he says, as though quite a few people in Manchester – and even his own Dean – don’t freely hurl hate at people who voted for Brexit, or support the Conservatives or Ukip (or, worse, look kindly upon Donald Trump). When so many respected and godly Church of England clergy – and even a Manchester’s Canon for Theology and Mission – routinely conflate ‘right-wing’ with ‘far right‘; or declare publicly that all Conservatives are racist; or deride the Conservative Party for being “un-Christian”; or Tweet that Tories are puppy murderers ; or tell the nation they loathe everything Tories believe and stand for – you can’t blame people for believing that the world might be a better place without them.
‘Cruel? Certainly. Unforgivable? Beyond doubt. But the Tories aren’t actually evil’ wrote Owen Jones a few years ago:
Are the Tories evil? It is a debate that has provoked a ruckus on social media this week. Sunny Hundal – editor of left-of-centre blog Liberal Conspiracy – declared yes, emphatically, they are. If someone of “considerable responsibility or power deliberately ignores or cheers on policies that lead to multiple deaths,” he writes, “they are ‘evil’.” As evidence, he cites global warming and the celebration of mass murdering dictators such as Augusto Pinochet. Tom Chivers, the Daily Telegraph’s in-house token liberal struck back: he was baffled that refuting the “evil” of the right should be anything but an “entirely uncontroversial” statement.
As Jones repudiates ‘evil’ as it applies to Tories (“..it is not only wrong to label the political right as ‘evil’: it is potentially dangerous..”), he goes on to recount their destructive, corrupt, hateful, heinous, hideous, malevolent, malicious, nefarious, vicious, ugly unpleasantness:
…large swathes of Sheffield..dismantled… unemployment quadrupled and industries were liquidated… miners were smashed… untold anguish… suicides… entire communities left bereft… a million children driven into poverty… Half a million people unable to properly feed themselves… cuts to benefits… Sick and disabled people stripped of support…
Is it possible to be so vile and wicked without being evil?
“Talk of ‘evil’ is best left to theologians,” he concludes, which is rather interesting: as a political commentator, Owen Jones distills Tory degeneracy for public consumption, and then exhorts priests and bishops to determine whether or not their policies constitute evil.
And some of them obligingly do just that:
Despised, rejected, caricatured, tarnished with fascism, stripped of all humanity… frankly, the left-wing desire to hang the Tories becomes an entirely rational response to the righteous indignation. It might even constitute a just war against all that offends the government of God.