A member of the EHRC liking my tweets has become a news story
A man called Alasdair Henderson, a distinguished barrister and a member of the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC), is in big trouble with The Guardian. What has he done wrong, I hear you ask? Has he perhaps been recorded using racial slurs, or shown to be corrupt? Did he attend Rita Ora’s lockdown-busting birthday party? Is there footage of him kicking a puppy or stealing a Werther’s Original from a rosy-cheeked child?
No. It’s much worse. He has been reading my Twitter.
This past Monday a senior Guardian reporter broke the incredible scoop that Mr Henderson has ‘liked’ tweets that disagree with The Guardian’s editorial line. Two of these were mine. One, from June, questioned whether it was wise for the police to squander public trust by being so supine in the face of BLM protests. The other, from September, suggested that Tory politicians should be less scared of being called names by journalists.
Truly terrifying extremism, I’m sure you’ll agree, and we can all thank this reporter for his brilliant investigative work, which must have required literally minutes of intensive scrolling and some courageous wilful misunderstanding.
The EHRC has said that there will be an investigation, presumably involving yet more scrolling through Twitter, which I’m sure will be an excellent use of everyone’s time and money.
On one level, it’s very funny. I’m no-one’s idea of a far-Right lunatic whose ideas should not be entertained by any respectable person. I’m a boring Volvo-driving family man who mostly tweets about Catholicism, trains, detective stories and minor British artists. I voted Remain and like ballet and poetry. As the man says in the TV show Father Ted, I don’t think I could devote myself full-time to the old fascism, the job takes up most of the day and at night I just like a cup of tea.
On the other hand, it is a pretty grim state of affairs that conservatives in public life are so often the subjects of these nasty little smear campaigns by the humourless and fanatical enforcers of progressive piety.
There is an amusing irony here. One of my problematic tweets was part of a thread; only a little earlier in that thread I suggested that I “honestly think there would be some mileage in a Tory advert that contrasted some cheerful people having a laugh with some hatchet-faced commissar scrolling through someone’s Twitter feed on the hunt for heresy”.
It is to be expected, of course; this government’s tentative steps towards taking on what has been called the Blob — the liberal permanent state of QUANGOs and advisory groups and pseudo-charities — were always bound to get some pushback. But that doesn’t mean it’s not depressing.
All that said, if I’m really honest I rather welcome The Guardian’s disapproval. I relish being recognised as a threat to, and enemy of, the modern progressive mindset. It’s a sort of backhanded compliment. So I’m afraid that — once my Advent break is over — there will be more Bad Tweets.