So, in a poor campaign where Boris has hidden from scrutiny whenever he can, including hiding from Andrew Neil and even running away from an event where 5 protesters were in attendance., things got even worse yesterday and today.
Questioned by an ITV reporter about claims of a four-year-old boy lying on coats on a hospital floor in Leeds as there were no beds or even trolleys available, Boris panicked. Initially he tried to talk over the reporter and bluster about Brexit and how everything will be sorted once Brexit is ‘done’. When that didn’t work, he grabbed the reporter’s phone, which he was using to show Boris the photo, and stuffed it into his own pocket and walked away.
When his media team realised what was happening an instruction went out to the English Health Secretary to visit the hospital in Leeds and sort it out. When the Health Minister left the hospital a handful of protesters were shouting at him, one of whom was gesticulating towards the Minister’s car as one of the Ministerial aides walked into this waving hand.
The Tories then had their cue for changing the story.
Instead of outrage at the poor treatment of the 4-year-old boy, the story was spun that while the Health Minister was trying to sort out the problem his aide was struck (or some stories said punched) by a ‘Labour’ protester. Right on cue the chief Tory propagandist Laura Kuenssberg repeated the Tory claim without checking any facts and her twitter feed echoed the Tory claim. Then Peston of ITV followed in line and repeated the same unsubstantiated claims. These two – Kuensberg and Peston – are meant to be the best political journalists of the BBC and ITV but here they are wilfully repeating a Tory lie without any fact checking whatsoever! How can they claim to be journalists, let along political journalists, if they simply act as an echo chamber for a political party? This is not the practice of real journalists; this is the practice of public relations acting on behalf of an interested party.
Then when videos started appearing online both Kuenssberg and Peston realised that they had been lied to and were being played by the Tories to set up a new spin on this story. No longer was the poor healthcare the issue, it was about the thuggish behaviour of Labour supporters. But the videos showed no punch, no assault, simply a ministerial aide not looking where he was going. Eventually both Keunssberg and Peston retracted their tweets and apologised for misleading the public (although not much of an apology from Kuenssberg). Why did they not realise the Tories were lying, why don’t the release the names of the Tories who tried to spin their way out of this issue, who else are they protecting?
And just when you thought the Tories couldn’t get any lower, out come the ‘bots’ with the same story repeated across numerous twitter and facebook pages, alleging the original story was made up by the 4 year olds mother! These people have no shame – instead of addressing the original issue of a lack of healthcare facilities, they spin until everyone is dizzy, creating confusion and hoping no one will remember the real story or trust anyone involved in the whole affair. However, the fact the hospital apologised to the child’s parents should be enough to prove the story was true and everything else has been the Tories using every dirty trick they can think of to distract people concerned about the failing NHS in England. It is to their eternal shame that Kuenssberg and Peston were so easily caught up in this fiasco. It is actually almost unbelievable that they could so easily believe a couple of Tory spin doctors that you have to question whether they knew the truth to begin with and were wilfully using their positions to help the Tories out. After all, Kuenssberg has definitely got history for this.