Note: Revised version of the article originally published at The Conservative Woman on Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Right from the outset, both the story, and even its layout, looked fishy.
When, late that Saturday evening, the Sunday Times splashed with the revelation by its Deputy Political Editor that its new Style Magazine columnist Charlotte Edwardes was using her very first column to accuse Boris Johnson of squeezing her thigh beneath the table at a private lunch, the doubts arose immediately.
For a start, only at the foot of the fourth paragraph was it clarified that the allegation was no fewer than 20 years old. Could that have been to make that rather important detail invisible to a non-paywall reader?
Set against the apparent 20-year delay in going public on the accusation, the timing of its eventual revelation looks intriguing. Because if the alleged assault was as discomforting as Edwardes suggests – and there is no reason to believe that, if it indeed took place, it was not discomforting – then she does seems to have missed a remarkable number of opportunities to bring it to wider attention.
Since the time when Edwardes claims she was assaulted by Johnson in 1999, it’s possible to identify at least 11 politically-significant occasions on which she could reasonably have reported it to the general public, and thus amplify in the public domain the issue of his suitability or otherwise for office. She could, for example, have disclosed it –
- when Johnson successfully stood for election as MP for Henley in 2001. She didn’t.
- when he successfully stood for re-election as MP for Henley in 2005. She didn’t.
- when he successfully stood for election as Mayor of London in May 2008. She didn’t.
- when he successfully stood for re-election as Mayor of London in 2012. She didn’t.
- when he was selected as the candidate in 2014, and successfully stood for election as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2015 . She didn’t.
- when he successfully stood for re-election as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in May/June 2017. She didn’t.
- when Michael Fallon resigned, and Damian Green was accused, both over historic – 15 years and 3 years respectively – allegations of “inappropriate touching” of women, in November 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo scandal. She didn’t.
- when Johnson and his wife announced their separation and intending divorce, in September 2018. She didn’t.
- when he confirmed his bid for the Tory leadership, in May 2019. She didn’t.
- when the blazing row with his girlfriend, to which the Police were called, was front-page news for several days in June 2019. She didn’t.
- when he was successfully elected as Tory Party Leader, in July 2019. She didn’t.
At this point, one might well ask: if Johnson was such a danger to women as Edwardes claims to have felt, why did she apparently not feel compelled to use her privileged position in the media to alert other women who might conceivably find themselves vulnerable to a similar assault?
Instead, the revelation has appeared only now, for the first day of Johnson’s first Conservative Party Conference as Leader. And, moreover, in the approaching culmination of his struggle to extricate Britain from the European Union, in fulfilment of the largest ever popular democratic mandate in UK political history, in the teeth of intransigent opposition from a recalcitrant, Remainer-dominated and election-averse Parliament, a judicially-activist Supreme Court, and a substantially pro-EU hostile media.
If that is merely a coincidence, then it’s certainly a quite astonishing one. And potentially a very convenient one, too, for several of the various elements of the anti-Brexit Establishment who increasingly seem willing to resort to any tactics to stop Brexit.
It could, for example, be very convenient for Amber Rudd, ex-Cabinet ardent-Remainer, who has resigned the Conservative Whip, and who, only 2 days prior to Edwardes’ revelations, was reportedly positioning herself as our prospective interim, caretaker Prime Minister in the risibly mis-named all-Remainer “Government of National Unity” being proposed by the similarly all-Remainer Rebel Alliance attempting to coalesce in the Commons around a Parliamentary coup to oust Johnson as PM. ALR readers will no doubt form their own judgement.
Two general points about the current climate of multiple attacks on Johnson from various sources are perhaps worth noting.
First, what we’re seeing from the anti-Johnson-as-proxy-for-anti-Brexit camp is neither new, nor even original. Shenanigans and procedural chicanery in the legislature: synthetic outrage in the media: febrile talk of impeachment: and now, decades-old sex allegations. They’re taking their tactics from exactly the same playbook as the Democrats and wider US “Liberal”-Left, echoed by their reliably on-message media amen-corner, are deploying against Trump. It’s a measure of their bubble-insularity and remoteness that the possibility it might be counter-productive just doesn’t seem to occur to them.
Second, despite desperate efforts by the marinaded in anti-Brexit groupthink mainstream media, with BBC News and Sky News as ever to the fore, to give the original story legs and keep it going, as far as the non-mainstream media online political audience and community is concerned, it seems to have succumbed, to widespread derision, within 48 hours.
Contrary to what I suspect the aim of the story was, people aren’t outraged, or even much fussed, about Johnson’s inveterate eye for the ladies, being far more interested in whether he delivers Brexit on time.
Social media may have its faults, and its corporate inclination to left-“liberal” censorship is a growing worry, but the power it can give even 280-character citizen-journalists to, in the jargon, disintermediate the media, and thereby disrupt and counter their desired narrative, is not to be denied.
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