Last week Guido reported that Michael Fabricant had written to the Speaker asking for a new 1.000 metre no-Bray zone around parliament:
“I do not believe his form of harassment of MPs and journalists is acceptable and asked whether legal action can be applied to prevent him from approaching MPs within a certain distance, say a 1,000 metres, of the Palace of Westminster.”
There’s now division among Tory ranks on this proposal: Rob Halfon has used a ConHome op-ed to argue against Fabbers’s proposal – who by coincidence used to be Halfon’s boss:
“Do I agree with Bray? Absolutely not. Do I approve of his activities? Of course I don’t. Does he suck up to MPs from the left and fail to ever challenge opposition MPs and their failings? Quelle surprise. Do I find him annoying? Who doesn’t?
But, I actually love the fact that we live in such a vibrant democracy, that our Parliament is so accessible and such an individual (like the late Brian Haw) is permitted to scream at all of us, morning, noon, and night. Those people watching Britain from afar can but marvel that Bray can shriek at ministers close-up as they walk to work.”
As Halfon, clearly a keen reader, notes, “the Lee Anderson MP v Steve Bray bouts are now a required box office viewing. It is like watching the Rocky Balboa films all over again – but better.” Guido wonders whose side Lee will come down on…
A bombshell threat from Robert Halfon this morning after yesterday’s boycott of his Eductation Committee by the NUS. The student union’s petulant move came after the scandal of them inviting notorious rapper Lowkey to their annual conference, then suggesting any offended Jews go and hide in one of their safe spaces. Responding to Halfon calling them out yesterday the organisation tweeted that the committee was “bullying them”. Turns out the National Union of Students have the temperament of primary, not university students…
Some MPs out there got it twisted today. Let’s set a few things straight
1. MPs and education leaders are accountable to us not the other way round
2. Old school bullying culture is never acceptable including at govt committees
— NUS UK #NewVisionForEducation⚡ (@nusuk) March 22, 2022
On LBC this morning Halfon said if the group continues refusing to sit before his parliamentary committee they could be referred to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for what appears to be a Corbynesque bout of Antisemitism. About time some would say…
UPDATE 11 April, 2022: Robert Halfon has today written to the Charity Commission calling together with Campaign Against Antisemitism for a statutory inquiry into the National Union of Students (NUS).
In his letter, Halfon writes to “voice my dismay at the actions and behaviour of the National Union of Students and its trustees, in regards to their treatment of Jewish students and the Jewish community’s concerns regarding antisemitism. Together with Campaign Against Antisemitism…I politely request that the Commission launch a Section 46 inquiry, pursuant to the 2011 Charities Act into the NUS and look forward to receiving your response.”
He enclosed a dossier of evidence by Campaign Against Antisemitism detailing how NUS has failed Jewish students, he is “particularly concerned about the enclosed dossier of antisemitic events that have taken place within the NUS over the past several years — and which come following decades of concerning trends — which was prepared by CAA.”
The full dossier on NUS, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, can be read at antisemitism.org/nus.
Anyone expecting the NUS to give pause for thought after the Lowkey annual conference debacle probably doesn’t know the NUS. Following the Lowkey scandal, the NUS have demonstrated their inability to manage a crisis, this time by refusing to appear in front of the Education Select Committee this morning to discuss – surprise, surprise – antisemitism on campuses. Apparently their one and only representative was just too ill to appear…
Speaking this morning, Committee chair Robert Halfon tore into the group for no-showing:
“I have to say, the NUS has shown great reluctance to appear before us today. We first contacted them over 3 weeks ago inviting them to appear, and got no response. It took 6 emails and 7 phone calls before the NUS finally agreed to send a representative. And then we were told yesterday at 4:30 that the NUS could no longer attend because the representative was unwell. We asked for a replacement, and that was refused. I do think it disappointing that NUS responded in this way… and are not willing to appear before our committee. We will call them in for a separate session, they should be accountable to Parliament… there are some recent controversies involving antisemitism that involve the [NUS] and it would have been good to question them on this. I genuinely find it incomprehensible that [the NUS] was, in essence, unwilling to come and talk…”
Falling ill just hours before their scheduled appearance. The NUS must be so disappointed. Guido wishes their representative a speedy recovery.
Rob Halfon on the online abuse MPs receive…
“I said some stuff on BBC breakfast today but I don’t want to say anymore as I don’t want to look like a victim, as that is what our enemies want us to be.”
While Gavin Williamson was up before the education select committee today, discussing their latest report into white, working-class boys, the National Education Union wasn’t taking the legitimate concerns of Tory MPs quite so seriously. The Nottingham branch of the union last night tweeted:
The Tories expressing concern for the education of working class children is like Dr Harold Shipman claiming he cared for his patients. Robert Halfon MP, together with his select committee, should do one. https://t.co/VODTXNwTe6— Notts NEU (@NottsNUT) June 22, 2021
As new MP Brendan Clarke-Smith retorts, “You are unfit to represent teachers or to be involved in any way with the education of our children.”
The NUT isn’t the only one downplaying the plight of working class white boys. the UCU’s General Secretary Jo Grady yesterday took to Twitter to claim MPs’ concerns are about “whipping up racism”, not educational outcomes for children. Meanwhile neither unions have proffered any solutions of their own to deal with the scandal…
The NEU has been contacted for comment.
UPDATE: Rob Halfon has intervened after being targetted by the NUT tweet, telling Guido “it’s a pity the NEU seek to compare me with Harold Shipman”, and “I think they should do better than that”.
He also points out this isn’t his first run-in with the loony left NEU; in 2015 Guido reported on a green party candidate standing in Halfon’s constituency who said the Tories are not the party of workers, “unless u mean it like Hitler meant it”. At the time, the candidate targeting Jewish Halfon was general secretary of the Harlow NEU branch. He’s since been promoted to a National Executive Member of the union…
UPDATE II: The NEU branch has finally deleted the offending tweet and offered an apology:
Earlier today we made a tweet in very bad taste. We have deleted it. But we would like to apologise to everyone who was offended by it - and to our members for the mistake we made in tweeting it in the first place.— Notts NEU (@NottsNUT) June 23, 2021
Rob Halfon has been doing the media rounds a lot over the last few days, drawing attention to a curious glove puppet on his bookcase. Children’s TV character Sweep could be seen behind the Education Select Committee Chair on today’s episode of Politics Live, during last week’s Liaison Committee questioning of the Prime Minister, while he was chairing the Education Select Committee in May, even back in in April Sweep was there on his book case. Buy why?
Today the mystery was solved by Twitter user Various Jams, who brought to light an older photo of the bookcase, sans puppet. Sweep had swept away the just as distracting massive books about Hitler. Fair enough.
Before you jump to the wrong conclusion… Halfon used to run Conservative Friends of Israel…
UPDATE: Rob tells Guido that Sweep, who he calls his childhood hero, is “normally is on my chest of drawers but was helping me get rid of Mr Hitler!” Good stuff.