Monday, May 11, 2015

Have I smeared Steve Reed MP?

On 5th May, Steve Reed (Labour candidate for Croydon North) tweeted:

Two people from mosque hustings have now joined Labour, say they were angry about Green candidate's smears. Great to have them on board!

A smear is an unfair or untrue political attack designed to undermine someones credibility.

I myself and others have asked him for details but he hasn't responded. I feel it is appropriate to explain what I assume is he is referring to.

Firstly, I would say this is not a religious issue, this is about recognising what is right and what is wrong.

Last summer during the Israeli/Gaza conflict I noticed, by chance, a tweet sent by Steve Reed MP which had failed to capture the mood of what everyone was thinking.

@SteveReedMP to @NuriaCorbi in yr view how shd a country [Israel] respond if over 2000 rockets are fired at it in a year from launchers placed in populated areas?

I recall listening to phone-ins on the radio and nearly every fair-minded individual could see that Israel's shelling of Gaza and the resulting number of deaths, 2000 in comparison to 75, was disproportionate. Moreover, I spoke to a Jewish person who enlightened me on a her perspective on the crisis and she said that Israel possessed the best weapons in the world. She couldn't understand why if Israel was targeting the leaders of Hamas that civilians died, including the four boys playing football on the beach.

My point is this: I want the MP for Croydon North not to seemingly attempt to justify Israel's actions but to condemn her excessive use of force unequivocally.

These are the facts which I assume has lead to Steve Reed's 'smears' tweet:


1) On 17th April, I ran a stall outside the mosque at Friday prayers. I wrote out the ill-judged tweet on a piece of card.


2) I shot the footage above after Friday prayers. About 45 minutes earlier, Steve Reed walked passed the stall and spotted the card which carried his tweet. He read it carefully and asked me in  a surprised fashion, "Did I say that?"

3) On 26th April, Croydon Mosque held a hustings for Croydon North. I sat next to Steve Reed. A question came up on the unconditional withdrawal from the occupied territories from a younger member of the audience.

Croydon Mosque hustings. Steve Reed (third from right) with me beside him

I commenced my answer by saying that we all have to recognise the anxieties that Jewish people carry about their security, especially after what happened during WWII. I finished answering the question by reading out Steve Reed's ill-judged tweet to @nuriacorbi, reminding the audience all fair minded people could see that Israel's reaction was wholly disproportionate.

His reaction was incredible. He went ballistic. I can't recall the full tirade but he did wag his finger in my face saying, "you claim to be someone with integrity, you should be ashamed of yourself." The word, "smear" was also used. Reed implied people should look at the full exchange and quoted a previous tweet he sent to @NuriaCorbi.

Presumably, Reed had realised that his tweet, which I had drawn his attention to on my stall, was ill-judged and he had taken the trouble to look back at the exchange with @NuriaCorbi in anticipation it could come up at the hustings.

Now, I happen to think bringing up the full exchange of tweets is the only defence of what he tweeted. However, his reaction, for me, was one of how dare you bring this us up because it looks really bad - and it is.

Immediately after the hustings, I went up to couple of the younger members of the audience and asked if I was wrong to read out the tweet? They replied I was right to read out his tweet and "his reaction said it all."

4) I contacted @NuriaCorbi via twitter to  actually find out what the person on the other side of the exchange thought. She kindly sent me the following Direct Message:

Yes, very disappointed in him because he was defending the indefensible in my opinion. I expected a more courageous stand from Labour. For me, the issue is very clear.

[After re-reading the ill-judged tweet]

I think his tweet needs no further explanation, it speaks for itself. He doesn't address why these rockets are fired in the first place. 
It is a typical textbook reply you get from people who support Israel's view. The next thing people come up with is that 'you're anti-semitic or anti-Jewish'. Nothing could be further from the truth, but they run out of arguments and it's a quick way to end the conversation. 
I'm just an ordinary person who tweeted something I felt strongly about and got I reply from a politician! It surprised me and it's nice he responded, but I'm still disappointed in his reply.

[I pointed out that he feels that I took his tweet out of context]

I guess that's easily done, but he never actually said what Israel were doing  is wrong, that's most what I was disappointed about most.  
I was hoping that some politician would take a clear stand on what was happening, and I saw that nobody was as outraged as they should have been, nobody was expressing any outrage or condemnation, I had just watched a report about Gaza and was in tears seeing the images.

5) On the final Sunday before the election I was canvassing in Thornton Heath and I bumped into an elder who was at the hustings. I asked his opinion about Steve Reed's reaction. He replied, "we saw his real character."


Is it accurate for Reed to say I subjected him to smears? Well, it is perfectly reasonable for me to inform people what Reed has tweeted. I have not deliberately lied because the tweet is clear to see. Therefore, I can only be accused of being unfair, in that I have misrepresented Reed's tweet. If I have misrepresented Reed's tweet then the error is my misinterpretation of it. If this is the case, then why not simply say this? Instead, Reed's initial reaction outside the mosque and Nuria's message to me leave me feeling Reed simply hated being exposed again.
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