BBC’s Andrew Marr legitimises right-wing smears


2:54 pm - September 28th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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I was pissed off with this yesterday and I remain just as furious today. On his show on the BBC yesterday Andrew Marry asked Gordon Brown:

A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through; are you one of those people?

[hat/tip @GaryDunion].
This is bloody outrageous. Andrew Marr legitimised a smear that unscrupulous right-wing bloggers have been pushing for years.

It worked like this: right-wing bloggers kept questioning Gordon Brown’s sanity and calling him ‘bonkers’, demented and other names for partisan reasons. They justified this on the basis that some others within the Labour party had apparently also started these rumours. But no evidence is offered.

Then some national journalists referenced ‘internet rumours’ to repeat that smear, which was then used by the same bloggers to declare that they were justifed in their smears because it had reached national press and so it must be true. And so the BBC’s Andrew Marr bought into that feedback loop and asked a classic variation of: ‘so when did you stop beating your wife’.

A few points: simply answering the question won’t make the rumours go away because they were always partisan and based on rubbish to begin with. They relied on using prejudice against mentally ill people to imply that Brown’s actions could only be justified by mental illness and therefore he must go.

Secondly, despite all their faux outrage over Damian McBride’s disgusting rumour-peddling, this incident illustrates that most right-wing bloggers come from the same stock. The ‘bonkers’ meme has been viciously repeated by right-wingers to undermine the PM. There is no evidence to it. The PM could be attacked in other ways – through his policies for example – but these people are only interested in character assassination. And yet only a few months ago they screamed hysterically about how the left was beholden to vicious rumours and chartacter assassination. Now they’re saying nothing other than cheering Marr on.

Lastly – it illustrates how craven BBC journalists keep trying to win influence with the Tory administration and win plaudits from right-wing blogs.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Silent Hunter

Yeah!

And if it had been Cameron you would be saying . . . “a perfectly legitimate question to ask someone in charge (allegedly) of the country”

Transparently faux anger.

Oh dearie me.

Who first described Brown as “psychologically flawed”?

T Blair and A Campbell.
In 1998.

Firstly, let met me make it very, very clear that on this issue I agree with Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell.

Secondly, this particular story was reported in the Independent before it was referenced on my blog.

4. the a&e charge nurse

Did Andrew Marr really say to GB – “A lot of people in this country and Michael Jackson use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through; are you a lama-fucking paedophile?”

If so I think Andy should be given his own slot on Fox news, perhaps with Daniel Hannan as co-anchor man?

Who first described Brown as “psychologically flawed”? T Blair and A Campbell.

Or not, as the case may be. Even Lance Price, who originally said it was Blair who said that, admitted afterwards ‘I have no idea whether that’s true’.

What is very, very clear is that some bloggers continue to use this single, questionably attributed quote as an excuse to constantly refer to the PM as a ‘mentalist’ and a ‘clown’ while attempting to portray themselves as innocently passing on the news.

Tell you what – why don’t you shit stirrers and hypocrites point out where they said Brown was mentally ill?

Guido I expect nothing less from you, but cjcjc was screaming hysterically during the McBride saga about condemning smears. You’re a hypocritical shit.

Sunny, the blogger who started all this, has admitted completely making up these allegations, but he is not right-wing. He votes Lib Dem and Green

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/54055,news,blogger-john-ward-says-he-has-every-right-to-ask-if-gordon-brown-is-on-anti-depressants-as-labour-bbc-row-escalates

It is much more likely that Charles Clarke prompted this story by openly questioning Gordon Brown’s health last week. Marr should be sacked for his lack of journalistic ethics, and Clarke should have his whip withdrawn.

As for Guido, well, he is far less powerful and relevant than he thinks. What a pathetic man.

Can you tell the difference between how a civil servant (McBride) is expected to behave and how bloggers might or might not be expected to behave?

NB I never “scream hysterically” – unlike Brown apparently… 😉

I hope that I’m not a shit, but perhaps you owe John Ward (see @7) an apology?

Actually it was the sainted Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer who reported the phrase “psychologically flawed” to describe Mr Brown. It is usually attributed to Bad Al Campbell, though he of course denies it.

Campbell is contradicted by another journalist – Daily Mirror I think can’t remember the name – reporting that Campbell used the same line with him.

I think we can therefore discount a proven liar like Campbell and surmise that Rawnsley’s source was Campbell.

6 – Or you could cite Charles Clarke, on the record as describing Brown as a deluded control freak with psychological issues.

Or Robert Harris, who said he was weird, and it was like he had Aspergers, or Anatole Kaletsky who said he was borderline autistic and “a little…odd”.

The idea that this is a meme solely attributable to right wing bloggers is just a little…odd.

It’s not that new for Brown. In the 1990s, he went on Desert Island Discs and had Sue Lawley asking if he was absolutely sure he wasn’t gay.

Anyway, prescription painkillers are one thing. Smears like this one – and that one….

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_VWMhxg4UsqE/SP7pJqsrFOI/AAAAAAAAFjE/1aa-1U6zdcM/s400/George+Osborne+Cocaine+Prostitution.jpg

… are all about taking playing the man and not the ball.

12. the a&e charge nurse

[9] “psychologically flawed” – what does that mean? – or put another way which leader was NOT ‘psychologically flawed’.
Snatch?
Bliar?
Churchill?

Or you could have Dr Thomas Utterfraud in the Times a year or so ago:

Gordon Brown’s personality, like at least 3 per cent of the population, shows symptoms of the personality disorders grouped together in DSM4 as cluster A disorders. He is likely to be demanding, self- absorbed, have difficulties in relationships with others, suffer discomfort in social situations with unfamiliar people, have vaguely unsettling inappropriate gestures or facial expressions and may be so focused that he finds it difficult to concentrate on subjects other than that which has caught his immediate attention.

This genie got out of the bottle a while ago…

Ooh, or you could read Chris Mullin’s diaries, where Labour MPs variously describe Brown as “mad”, “obsessive”, “paranoid” and a “megalomaniac”.

Straight out of the American rigt wing playbook.

1 Start the smear on Drudge.

2 Keep screaming liberal bias.

2 Mainstream media to prove it is not Liberal repeats smear.

3 Smear Becomes major news.

Job done.

What this shows is how much the MSM read the Right wing blogs. Just like the USA.

No doubt we can look forward to Nick Robinson asking call me Dave to marry him next week.

This story does irritate me, in much the same way as the “Obama is a Muslim” rumours did. There was/is a huge rush to deny the allegation … and the fact that there’d be absolutely nothing wrong with it were it true gets lost in the noise.

Marr was absolutely in the wrong to ask – as he would be in asking any irrelevant question about anyone’s medical history – but there’s nothing at all wrong with suffering pain, and nothing wrong with taking the drugs necessary to control that pain and so have more energy for other things. (In fact, I’d far rather any politicians suffering from chronic pain did take whatever steps were needed to control it, including medication)

It’s not really a variation on “so when did you stop beating your wife” – that’s asking “when did you stop doing something utterly reprehensible”, whereas this is a question about a morally neutral act that’s being swung through a whole series of indirect implications – tied, as you say, to ablist prejudices – to make it look like there’s something wrong with it.

It shouldn’t even be a smear – it should be about as smearworthy as “So, I hear you ate a carrot yesterday, Prime Minister. Could you confirm or deny this rumour?” – but no-one who challenges those assumptions seems to be being heard right now.

Amazing amounts of personal abuse are currently being heaped on Brown for no substantive reasons other than seeking electoral advantage but compare these reflections by Brian Walden on two of his illustrious predecessors?

“No woman left alone in Lloyd-George’s presence was secure, but even more startling than this reckless behaviour was the fact that he lived openly with his mistress Frances Stevenson at the same time as he lived with his wife, Margaret. All of this was spiced up by Frances’s two abortions and the suicide pact she entered into with Lloyd-George.”

And this:

“The Churchill story is even more extraordinary. During his second premiership at the end of June 1953 Churchill had a severe stroke. Nobody piped up to say the public should be told and this disabling illness was kept secret. . .

“I think it right that Lloyd George’s private life went unmentioned, but Churchill’s stroke should have been public knowledge. But we need waste no time arguing about the old values. They’ve gone forever.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4408365.stm

13 – that would be Dr Thomas Stuttaford, the former Conservative MP? Am not convinced by the argument, “These smears against Gordon Brown aren’t all coming from the right-wing, even ex-Tory MPs who can diagnose personality disorders from watching the telly agree that he is bonkers”.

Funny watching all the trolls trying to defend their Lord and master Guido with the ““psychologically flawed” stuff.

But no mention was made of drug taking by Blair or other Labour people. That was a Right wing smear.

As for cjcj conservative jerk, I would not bother with him Sunny. He proved what a tosser he was with the McBride story. He is nothing more than a tory trouble maker. I am amazed you allow him to contiue posting. Like so many of the trolls he offers nothing. Just bullshit.

17 – and two Blairite commentators Anatole Kaletsky, Robert Harris as well as Charles Clarke and the assorted anonymous Labour MPs quoted by Chris Mullin.

It’s hardly a surprise – Gordon Brown has made as many enemies in his own party as he has across the floor. For most of the last decade the only real power struggle was between Blair supporters and Brown supporters – it is inevitable that most of the nasty things said about Brown would be by fellow Labour MPs…

@ 9

It may have been Campbell. It may have Campbell covering for someone else. Who knows. The fact that you’re quibbling over who said what 11 years ago smacks of somebody trying to divert attention away from the fact that you continue to fling around phrases, posts and images deriding the PM’s mental health in the most objectionable terms.

I’m still waiting for the trolls to tell me which Labour people said Brown was on drugs.

Completely agree with 15 – ‘the fact that there’d be absolutely nothing wrong with it were it true gets lost in the noise…It shouldn’t even be a smear’

Quite right. But the problem is that it becomes a smear when people start using phrases like ‘prime mentalist’ and posting pictures of Brown dressed as a clown, while absolving themselves of responsibility on the grounds that ‘other people say he’s bonkers too’.

Cue Tim J and cjcjc with their ‘See? See? He is mad and everybody says the same so it’s not a smear!’ logic.

Someone should ask Andrew Marr:

A lot of people in this country use medication to help them get through gangliness; are you one of those rangy people?

Is Sally capable of following anything?

Brown’s “odd” behaviour has been remarked upon by people of all parties and none for years. Hardly a smear – it’s bleedin’ obvious.

More recently a non-Tory/blackshirt/troll blogger spots that Brown’s new dietary no-no’s are consistent with the guidance given to him when on anti-depressants himself.

This was then followed up by such fascist publications as the Independent *before* being written up on my lord-and-master Guido’s blog.

Or is this all a bit difficult for you to follow?

@23 – Marr doesn’t make any decisions which might affect me.
Do you see the difference?
Or should US presidents no longer produce their medical records?

Cue Tim J and cjcjc with their ‘See? See? He is mad and everybody says the same so it’s not a smear!’ logic.

No, I’m saying that this smear has been around for ages, and has most often been used by his own side. In other words, when Sunny claims that the whole ‘Is Brown Mad?’ line is the creation of hideous right wing bloggers, he’s not been paying attention.

Besides, he is odd. That’s not a medical thing, he’s just a bit weird. Shaking his wife’s hand at last year’s conference, that bizarre Youtube video, his attempt to deny that he’d ever said ‘no more boom and bust’ – they’re just a bit, well, odd. That’s not a smear, it’s a statement of the bleeding obvious.

It serves labour right for the underpants sneer agains Major.

Oh fuck off cjcjc – the point is two-fold: what evidence do you actually have other than politically motivated smears? And furthermore, since you and other Tory shits were so hysterical during McBride – why don’t you follow the same line “there should be no space for personal character assassinations in politics” – as you lot were peddling then?

Now suddenly you want to twist around words by other ppl to say that Brown has a mental condition an therefore unsuitable to run the country. Hypocrisy at it’s best. You ppl really hve no scruples.

28. Voice of reason

First I’ve heard about all this. Thanks for telling me.

27 – sorry, who is it that’s screaming hysterically?

I want that fucking Tory lackey Andrew Marr to ask when Cameron had stopped beating is wife. You know, just for balance sakes.

Jeremy Hunt has his wish – the BBC don’t need to recruit more Tories, the corporation employs enough arse-kickers as it is. They’re falling into line as expected.

Kate: “the blogger who started all this, has admitted completely making up these allegations”

I’ve just read the article you linked to, and it doesn’t say what you say it says at all: Here’s the relevant passage:

“The current row began when Ward posted an item on September 4 about a social gathering he had attended where a senior civil servant described how the Prime Minister had been given a new diet. It banned him from eating some very specific items – namely cheese, Chianti and over-ripe avocados.

Ward’s ears pricked up because these are top of the list of banned items for anyone taking strong anti-depressants called MAOIs (Mono Amine Oxidase Inhibitors). “Every doctor in Britain would recognise these contra-indications instantly,” wrote Ward, “for they are the great verbotens for people taking MAOI drugs.”

Ward stressed that the civil servant, who he said had worked closely with the PM, appeared to be quite unaware of the significance of the banned foods and was not in any way “selling” him a story; indeed, he talked about the banned list as if it were a diet advocated by a “quack” doctor. Ward knew otherwise – that if such foods were eaten by someone on MAOIs, they could die.

The First Post’s Westminster insider, the Mole, picked up on Ward’s post on September 4 and the Mole’s post was in turn picked by other political websites.”

I have repeatedly refused to go on the Marr show because (a) couldn’t be arsed to get up early on a Sunday (b) found Marr extremely irritating to the extent I might be unable to restrain myself from grabbing his ears and banging his head against the coffee table.

You know I might just take a pill to relax myself, rescind my fatwah on Marr and accede to one of his regular invitations. That will upset Dale…

The part of this that I find most striking is that otherwise reputable journalists believe that a sufficient basis for a question is “I read it on the internet”. Why not go the whole hog and ask him whether he ever rode a rocking horse wearing a nappy?

“Besides, he is odd. That’s not a medical thing, he’s just a bit weird. ”

But of course that wasn’t Marr’s question was it?

Conservative jerk off “Is Sally capable of following anything?”

Yes, I can follow the fact that you are a piece of hypocritical tory shit. Who comes on here and spouts bullshit.

Sunny, I do feel you are damaging this site by letting tossers like him post so often. It is not as if he ever says anything remotely interesting or revealing. One of my posts was taken down last week, but his snide, small penis bullshit is allowed.

You are too week with the trolls. Nobody is interested in what they have to say and they are not interested in anything but fucking up this site.

Smear or not, if he were a competent leader it wouldn’t be an issue as people wouldn’t be inclined to listen, let alone believe it.

The problem is not that smears are being propagated, it’s that Brown is clearly not leader enough to have nipped it in the bud a long time ago.

“I have repeatedly refused to go on the Marr show because (a) couldn’t be arsed to get up early on a Sunday (b) found Marr extremely irritating to the extent I might be unable to restrain myself from grabbing his ears and banging his head against the coffee table.

Yea right. You could not fight your way out of a paper bag,

The real reason you don’t go on is you are too pissed from the night before.

I don’t think Marr was right to raise an unsourced rumour like that because it gives the rumour credibility regardless of what the truth is.

However I don’t recall much objection from the left when Oliver James publishes his preposterous books trying pathologise his opponents or when the New Statesman described Tony Blair like this:

“For several weeks, I have been talking to psychologists and psychiatrists about what drives the Prime Minister. One view emerged strongly: there appears to be something worryingly adrift in the mind of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, a man who doesn’t really know who or what he is. More technically, he is diagnosed as a psychopath capable of reinventing himself with remarkable dexterity”

http://www.newstatesman.com/200307210014

This is hilarious stuff, everyone knows that the attack is from Brown’s own ranks, the enemies behind his back. Why would Tories want to prompt Labour to ditch the Conservative Party’s greatest electoral asset – Brown’s premiership? It just doesn’t make sense. Look to Brown’s Labour critics for the source of this one.

39. Fellow Traveller

The rumours could be resolved quite easily by the introduction of mandatory drug testing for all MPs including government ministers. The British Athletics Association could administer them. Results would be published. If sportsmen and women must submit to such a regime in order to do their jobs, why not politicians whose actions affect all of us?

Submit to testing and quell the suspicion.

I will also bet that the Royal Navy Captains in charge of Britain’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines must get psychiatric evaluations before and during their commands. I would suggest exactly the same for the Prime Minister, the Defense Secretary and any others in the chain of nuclear command (for all I know, they already do these and keep the results secret under the Official Secrets Act. One wonders whether a special protocol exists to remove a mentally unfit Prime Minister from office).

Have you been drinking?!

I never said there was no room for smears in politics – that would indeed be absurd.

My objection was to the smearing being undertaken by someone who was supposed to be a civil servant.

And the evidence has been provided by Mr Ward as outlined above, who appears not to be a Tory, and who himself was previously on anti-depressant medication and thus cannot easily be accused of belittling those suffering from depression.

And as for Marr being a “Tory lackey”, good grief…

It is interesting the Tory machine is
using these sort of tactics. You would have thought they could beat Brown with one arm tied behind their back,

Perhaps their huge win is not quite as in the bag as they would like everyone to think..

25 – Besides, he is odd. That’s not a medical thing, he’s just a bit weird.

Absolutely agree. He’s odd, incompetent, and should be replaced. But to tell everyone he’s odd because of a medical problem that may or may not exist, possibly revealed by somebody in 1998 but maybe not, and use language offensive to a large group of people is a smear. Isn’t that bleeding obvious?

Call him a rubbish leader, an oddball, or whatever, but why the need to resort to playground bullying tactics? If you really thought that was acceptable you wouldn’t feel the need to point at all the other people who’ve done the same in a poor attempt at justifying mockery of the mentally ill.

Once again, the Daily Mash has the best take on this:

Tom Logan, a former sales executive from Finsbury Park, said: “If only Gordon Brown had devoted the last 12 years to sourcing painkillers and then guzzling them down like Smarties, the chances are he would not have had the time or energy to completely ruin my life.”

He added: “And if he had been a raging drug addict then at least he would have had a valid excuse for all the lying and stealing, instead of just being a thief.”

Gossip about the prime minister has been swirling around Westminster for weeks, including a persistent rumour that he can no longer see where he is going because he insists on walking around with a wastepaper basket on his head.

Another suggests Mr Brown believes he is a man inside a chicken suit inside a Gordon Brown suit, while London dinner parties are buzzing with claims that the prime minister is, once again, convinced he is Spiderman.

Actually the evidence suggests that tories do best on the personal stuff. When the topic of conversation drifts onto policy they tend to be less than coherent.

Sally, you’re really going to have to come down from your insistence that this was *solely* a story coming from the right, because I’ve just quoted a great long passage from a First Post article that clearly cites John Ward’s contribution. I know Ward a little, he’s a Lib Dem supporter and he writes for LDV from time to time. He is not a right winger.

And he isn’t doing unsubstantiated smear either, so far as I can see. He’s pointing out the coincidence between Brown’s new diet and the diet followed by people on strong anti-depressants. Assuming he hasn’t invented the source for the Brown’s new diet chatter itself, I can’t see any reason not to at least consider what he says.

However, I’m not entirely sure I agree with him that we have a right to know whether Brown is on anti-depressants per se. I don’t hold with that right in the workplace, so long as the employee functions and does their job. Having said that, an employee doesn’t usually have access to armed forces…

Bullying. Plain and simple. And we’re becoming desensitised to it. Things that used to be off limits purely for being ‘unkind’ are now aired in public without giving an absolute shit on the personal and psychological repercussions that may have on another human being.

What goes around comes around though. Here’s a sample.

“I never said there was no room for smears in politics – that would indeed be absurd. My objection was to the smearing being undertaken by someone who was supposed to be a civil servant.”

No , your objection was because it was being done against your beloved tory party. You had no problem with Bernard Ingram being a hatchet man for Thatcher under the public purse”

Hahaha – Ingram’s hatchet was mostly used against his own side.

The (sad) truth is that *no-one* wholly objects to a smear against someone s/he really dislikes.

Absolutely agree. He’s odd, incompetent, and should be replaced. But to tell everyone he’s odd because of a medical problem that may or may not exist, possibly revealed by somebody in 1998 but maybe not, and use language offensive to a large group of people is a smear. Isn’t that bleeding obvious?

Call him a rubbish leader, an oddball, or whatever, but why the need to resort to playground bullying tactics? If you really thought that was acceptable you wouldn’t feel the need to point at all the other people who’ve done the same in a poor attempt at justifying mockery of the mentally ill.

I actually agree with you on this. I don’t like accusations of specific mental illness. For a start they’re silly armchair diagnoses and anyway they’re irrelevant. I don’t care if Brown’s inability to connect with the electorate (for example) is down to a chemical imbalance in his brain, or because he was weaned too early, or just because that’s the way he is. I do care that Brown has an inability to connect with the electorate.

The point I was making is that this particular smear has been around for a decade, and has most often been articulated by people nominally on Brown’s side.

I am still waiting for the trolls to tell me which Labour party people said Brown was on drugs…..

No takers yet.

*waves at Sally*

Do you at least accept that I have shown you a non-right-winger who has suggested there is evidence that Brown might be on drugs? Does this not slightly drive a bus through your insistence that it’s all a right-wing plot?

50 – who said any had? On the other hand, there are quite a few who have said that Brown is ‘deluded’, a ‘control freak’, ‘paranoid’, ‘a megalomaniac’ and has ‘psychological flaws’…

Still waiting>>>>>>

“50 – who said any had? On the other hand, there are quite a few who have said that Brown is ‘deluded’, a ‘control freak’, ‘paranoid’, ‘a megalomaniac’ and has ‘psychological flaws’”

Are you that stupid?

sally, love, you won’t be able to name the Labour activists who started the smear, you’re not meant to be able to. It’s meant to look like a Tory hatchet job whilst doing their dirty work for them.

I repeat, for the hard of understanding, why on earth would the Conservative Party want Labour to dump Gordon Brown this side of the landslide 2010 election? It just doesn’t make senst to those of us with a brain.

56 – is that a trick question?

Why was it fair game for lefty types to ask Cameron about drug use in his distant past, before he was even an MP, but not right for the BBC to ask the Prime Minister in office if he is on mind altering medicine.

How amusing, Sunny Hundal and Nadine in agreement shocker:

http://blog.dorries.org/id-1502-2009_9_Marr,_how_low_can_you_go.aspx

49 – Glad we agree Tim!

And it’s true that it’s been around in some form or another for ages. Goodness knows why, it’s not even a clever way to attack Brown – criticising someone’s politics on the basis that they may have mental health problems is lazy and pathetic, and only leaves the critic open to accusations of bullying and ignorance.

This is why I can’t abide Guido’s insistance that everything’s above board because others have discussed Brown’s mental health too. Let’s face it, he’s only doing it so he can make a couple of jokes about mentalists and his cartoonist hangers-on can draw some funny [sic] pictures.

The whole thing just needs to go away. It’s a distraction from issues that should be discussed instead, and furthers no cause for either left or right. For this reason, I think Marr was wrong to bring it up.

61 – it’s mainly an attempt to get the underlying message of ‘that Gordon Brown’s a bit weird’ to stick. Once you can characterise a politician as being odd you’re halfway to getting him marginalised.

It’s the tactic that Tony Blair used on William Hague in the late 90s. Reasonably enough given that Hague was a bit weird back then…

A few years ago the Tories complained that “Red ” Andy Marr had become the BBC’s political editor because of his former left wing sympathies : now he is apparently their stooge. Marr is married to Jackie Ashley of the Guardian.

Dr D Owen , former Register neurological and psychiatric registrar at St Thommy’s a back called ” In sickness and Power”. Owen states in 1956 , Eden was on Drinamyl, a mixture of barbituartes and ampetamines a result of his cholangitis ( cutting of the bile duct). Eden had temperature of 106F and full shaking 8 days before he met the French. Surely the physical and mental fitness of any leader is important, be it PM or MD of a large business? Often large organisations take out insurance in case important people are no longer able to function. It would be interesting if the mental health of those people insured was assessed.

Perhaps if Brown did not appear to have violent rages people would give less credence to the comments by J Ward?

Oh i see. It’s terrible when a civil servant pushes smears, but it’s perfectly ok when a political journalist from the BBC does it. As long as it’s not at the Tories of course, becase then you’d be screaming ‘liberal bias’ again.

Alix – does this Ward idiot have any evidence o not other than a source apparently saying Brown changed his diet? And it doesn’t matter if some Libdem fuckwit pushed this stuff recently – it has been circulating rightwing blogs for ages, and is continually pushed by them.

You may not see anything in it – I see politically motivated smearing unless there is some evidence to bak it up. This meme uses prejudice against mentally I’ll people to malign a politician who I am no fan of. That kind of disgusting crap should be condemned across the political spectrum instead of playing whataboutery as many are doing.

Marr asked brown if he was on drugs. You trolls said that was fine because it had already been said by Blair and other Labour people.

But as yet you have not been able to prove that. Calling someone a control freak does not mean they are on drugs. If it did, Blair would have been accused of being on drugs because he was called a control freak many times..

I am not disputing that Brown has been called many things by the left, However A right wing blogger says he is on drugs , and the so called Liberal BBC then repeat that claim. You say that Labour said it first, all I am asking is yoiu tell us who?

So far you have failed to answer that question.

Is it really prejudicial to the mentally ill to express a preference for a PM who is not mentally ill or on strong medication?

It’s the tactic that Tony Blair used on William Hague in the late 90s. Reasonably enough given that Hague was a bit weird back then…

Yes he was wierd in your eyes because he was trying to make the Tory party less Briownshirt than you would like.

Still waiting………

@Sunny: “does this Ward idiot have any evidence o not other than a source apparently saying Brown changed his diet? And it doesn’t matter if some Libdem fuckwit pushed this stuff recently”

Ah, the Sally School of Charm.

You’ll notice that I mentioned the possibility of the source being unreliable myself, so I’m not really the right person to address these hypotheticals to. Why don’t you read his post yourself and find out? It seems to me, as I said, that assuming the source is reliable his point is at least worth considering. I suppose the next step, in a historian-like way, would be corroborative evidence.

“Ah, the Sally School of Charm.”

It is only when I am dealing with two faced tory trolls

69 – what?! William Hague was taking the Tory party to the centre for the 2001 election? Cracking stuff.

Marr asked brown if he was on drugs. You trolls said that was fine because it had already been said by Blair and other Labour people.

Not quite. Sunny said:

It worked like this: right-wing bloggers kept questioning Gordon Brown’s sanity and calling him ‘bonkers’, demented and other names for partisan reasons. They justified this on the basis that some others within the Labour party had apparently also started these rumours. But no evidence is offered.

And then we pointed out all the Labour figures who had said just this over the last decade.

67 – I don’t think Brown has any sort of mental illness, I just think he’s weird. Oh – and a quick question for you because I know you love these: in 1910 was Southern Rhodesia formally part of the British Empire?

70. Silent Hunter

Oh Dear!

Aren’t the children obstreperous today! LOL

Remind me again . . . it was Downing Street who had a “Smear Team” now wasn’t it.

Damian McBride, Derek Draper and Tom Watson MP.

They got caught; which exposed all the hypocrites in the Labour Party who like to think they’re above ‘that sort of thing’.

I see that there’s now a witch hunt underway for Marr, which is a great idea by Labour . . . that’s right! . . . alienate Andrew Marr and Jackie Ashley who are two of the most Pro Labour journalists you’re likely to find.
That should help Labours cause in the run up to the GE.

BTW Sunny – Your mask of tolerance and levelheadedness has slipped to around your knees and you’re starting to sound like a fishwife, berating all and sundry.

When you lose the plot . . . you lose the argument. :o)

Another day, another attack on State broadcasting from Sunny.

‘This is bloody outrageous. Andrew Marr legitimised a smear that unscrupulous right-wing bloggers have been pushing for years.’

They are only ‘smears’ (a) if they are untrue and (b) if you consider a mental handicap to be a barrier to employmen, so which is it?

There are those on this site who think mental incapacity is a legitimate excuse for not looking for work and yet think it isn’t a problem for someone running the country.

If the PM is ill I want to know if he’s more mental than I am. You give up the right to privacy about your mental state when you take on a position where you can start wars on a whim. Frankly, those of us with mental issues are tired of being told it’s something we should keep hidden.

“And then we pointed out ……”

WE?

So glad you agree that you are a Tory troll.

Still waiting for you to to say which Labour party member said Brown was on drugs.

It is a simple question and someone as simple as you should be able to manage an easy one like that.

I think Andrew Marr has backed himself into a bit of corner because he’s obligated now to ask Cameron something equally silly & designed to embarrass. There are plenty of rumours about Cameron & Osborne on the internet that are not worth repeating on BBC television. I wonder which one he’ll pick?

In that case Alix, i Wouldnt try and defend someone if you dont have the facts to hand. I’m still unclear as to what the point of your contribution was – it’s obvious why the right-wing trolls are here: they hate the idea that they should be accused of smearing or being compared to McBride despite doing exactly the same as him.

And I wouldnt feel so smug cjcjcjcjc – right now you”re the one justifying and playing whataboutery with smears that use prejudice aimed at mentally ill people. This is why I hate most politically active Tories – they’re hypocritical shits. And that includes you Guido.

I see the message has gone out from troll central to invade.

Still waiting for an answer………

“And I wouldnt feel so smug cjcjcjcjc – right now you”re the one justifying and playing whataboutery with smears that use prejudice aimed at mentally ill people. This is why I hate most politically active Tories – they’re hypocritical shits. And that includes you Guido.”

So tue it has to be said again.

But why let Conservative trolls ruin your site Sunny? There is no need to show balance on a liberal site. Ban them.

“There is no need to show balance on a liberal site. Ban them.”

Now that is brilliant!!

“And I wouldnt feel so smug cjcjcjcjc ”

Maybe you’re right.
But with Brown the red mist descends…I need better self-control.

Still waiting for an awnser from the trolls.

I guess they lied …………..AGAIN.

82 – try taking a pill, I hear they’re very effective…

sally

You lose what little credibility you have when you call Alix a tory. The People’s Republic of Mortimer is Yellow Peril territory.

87 – that ship sailed a while back.

88 – ffs.

1. As I said above, as far as I am aware no Labour MP has said that Brown is on drugs.
2. No-one on this thread has claimed that they have.
3. I don’t care whether they have or not.

““There is no need to show balance on a liberal site. Ban them.”

Now that is brilliant!!”

I concur, if there was ever a line for showing how badly someone can misunderstand liberalism…

The trolls silence on which Labour party member said Brown was on drugs is fascinating.

Still waiting……….

No takers yet. I guess it is a Tory smear then. Someone should tell the BBC.

@94 Sally – you first ask the question

“I’m still waiting for the trolls to tell me which Labour people said Brown was on drugs.” @21 and then repeat it several times.

I’ve looked and looked on this thread but can’t see a claim from anyone that “Labour people said Brown was on drugs”

Could you show me where this happens?

Well, I wouldn’t sign up for a career as a semi-professional Tory ratfucker myself…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratfucking

…But all democracies have them, and let’s face it – there are quite a few rats out there who deserve their amorous attentions. Ratfuckers may be a despicable gaggle of hypocritical political con artists and bullshit merchants, but they have their role like everyone else.

I have to say though, Republican operatives can’t hold a candle to this modern breed of rat-molesting Tory vermin-fancier. I mean, Guido even used a column in the Times to publicly clutch his little pearls in horror at the evil, nassty Damian MacBridessess and wave his little fist at the sheer incivility and insult to the democratic process… And yet here he is, surrounded by sexually exhausted rodents, trying to pretend that a big boy from the Independent did it and ran away!

Man, even I have to applaud the sheer audacity. I mean, who are you going to believe? The Tory ratfucker, or your lying eyes?

I have got to go home now so I won’t be able to see when the troll scum answer the simple question….Which Labour politiican said Brown was on drugs?

I will log on later tonight to see if they have come up with some names.

Still waiting………

@102 Sock Puppet:

No it applies to Guido.

Next!

Sort of on topic, there are people so devoid of ordinary emotional intelligence that there’s almost a general assumption that they must be a bit weird. It’s not that they’re ill in any way, they’re just a bit embarrassing, and you end up trying to avoid eye contact.

Can’t think why that thought popped into my head.

Or you avoid eye contact because of your own low self-esteem and personal insecurities and place the onus for this onto others…

Just a thought.

‘The trolls silence on which Labour party member said Brown was on drugs is fascinating.

Still waiting……….’

And still asking, despite repeated responses that nobody made that claim.

Repeating the same actions over and over again in the expectation of a different result is the definition of insanity, but I doubt you would have heard of the guy who said that.

105 – I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but low self esteem isn’t one of them. Not many personal insecurities that I’m aware of either, but thanks for the concern.

Easy Tonga Tim, never said you did I? Some people are so quick to think that it is all about them…Can’t think why that thought popped into my head….

93. the a&e charge nurse

[31] we have to be very cautious about claims that certain changes in diet are automatically associated with a monoamine amine oxidase inhibitors – certainly tyramine rich foods can cause all sorts of problems with this class of anti-depressant, but ……….

The foods cited in your post, Alix, (chianti, cheese and avacado) are all relatively purine-rich and should thus be avoided if you suffer with GOUT – now, did Andy ask the lama-shagging paedo if he had any problems with his big toe?
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-some-foods-that-cause-gout.htm

A lot of heat on this thread but not much illumination. Questions.

1) If GB does suffer from a mental illness and is being treated for it, does it matter?

If the answer is no, Marr was wrong to ask about it.

2) If it does matter are there are sufficient grounds to suspect it may be true?

If the answer is no, Marr was wrong to ask about it.

3) If GB suffers from a mental illness and Marr asks him about it, is he likely, in all the circumstances, to get a truthful response.

If the answer is no, Marr was wrong to ask about it.

If the answers to 1,2 and 3 are thought to be in the affirmitive then, as the question is of a controversial and personal nature, it should have been flagged to GB in advance of the interview that he would be asked it. The matter could have then been put directly to him, not in the oblique and supine way it was asked by Marr. Having been given the opportunity to consider his answer in advance, Brown would have had the opportunity to scotch all the rumours if he chose to do so.

I actually believe GB to be a man of great principle, intellect and substance who has tried to serve his party and country with the best of motives. If the stress he has suffered in trying to do an impossible job over the last year has made him ill, I am genuinely sorry.

But just looking at him interviewed yesterday- overweight, over made-up, sweating profusely and unable to keep both feet parallel to the floor simultaneously, my gut instinct is that the rumour may be true. If it is, then a second term as PM might not be in his best interests (whether or not it be in ours).

I do hope I’m wrong but, if I’m right, Marr was entitled to ask the question.

You were doing so well, aside from the false premise, until you thrust in your own opinion based on scant evidence.

Thankfully, you are not a Doctor or a Mental health Practitioner.

I hope.

@79 “i Wouldnt try and defend someone if you dont have the facts to hand.”

Please look again at what I wrote, Sunny.

“And [Ward] isn’t doing unsubstantiated smear either, so far as I can see. He’s pointing out the coincidence between Brown’s new diet and the diet followed by people on strong anti-depressants. Assuming he hasn’t invented the source for the Brown’s new diet chatter itself, I can’t see any reason not to at least consider what he says.”

All true. Stand by it all. I’m prepared to consider what he says – I don’t know what you think I’m doing. a&e’s contribution @109 is interesting. I wonder if there are any other related conditions these foods would be a no-no for? (Assuming it is not gout, which I gather at 1 in 200 people (thanks NHS Choices) is rarer than depression, though whether it’s rarer than heavy depression I don’t know).

Also, you’ll note the original purpose of my contribution was to correct what Kate@7 claimed, that the article contains an admission from John Ward that he made up the claims. I quoted it to show that he says nothing of the sort.

It’s still bad maths, drawing together elements to reach a conclusion YOU want.

98. the a&e charge nurse

According to Sunny the question that was asked was this, Pagar [110]

“A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through; are you one of those people?”

The implicit question put to GB was do you depend on drugs to function?

While allusions to ‘prescription pain-killers’ and ‘pills’ is virtually synonymous with the erratic lifestyle associated with B-list celebrities like Kerry Katona, et al,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7684017.stm

Why didn’t Marr just come out straight with it and ask GB if he was a ‘nutter’

@D H-G

I’m not sure Ward particularly does *want* his conclusion to be true, on the basis of that First Post article. Certainly not if he’s been on the same medication himself. Why would any human being who has ever been depressed wish that on anyone else? He’s also not a party political blogger in the sense of membership, and he’s not a political gossip blog – he writes about all kinds of things. This is perhaps why I am more inclined to give consideration to what he suggests than I would be to others.

100. the a&e charge nurse

[112] – just a bit more food for thought, Alix (no pun intended).

MAOIs are sometimes referred to as ‘last drug of choice’ for treatment of depression.

In other words they are reserved for patients who have failed to respond to other classes of antidepressant such as SSRIs or tricyclics.

The MAOI hypothesis seems to imply that GB has had a severe and enduring mood disorder that has failed to respond to a variety of anti-depressants while all the time carrying out an intensely demanding job never more than a few feet away from the public gaze, or the photographers lens.

Perhaps Marr should leave the Martin Bashir routine to those more interested in celebrity lifestyles?

Outside of your respective tribal enclaves nobody actually cares.

In 1997 people were sick of a tired Tory Government riddled with sleaze and a lack of direction. In 2009 people are sick of a Labour Government that is tired and failed. Most reasonable people feel that they have taxed and squandered and invaded our lives and simply want a change of government.

Seriously, nobody out in the real world gives a damn about Marr’s interview and that’s the truth of it.

102. The Grim Reaper

Just reading this thread makes me want to take some anti-depressants.

It’s hard to know what to make of this. When Blair was in power, there were countless stories doing the rounds that Carole Caplin was banning him from eating certain foods and so on. Nobody suggested Blair was a depressive following that episode, everyone just treated it as tittle-tattle. Personally, I think Gordon Brown is mad – but I judge that on his (mostly crap) decisions as Prime Mental… sorry, Prime Minister.

I wonder who will be the first journalist to ask about the “pictures” of Gordon on a rocking horse whilst wearing a nappy…

I can easily imagine something like this video clip being shown at the Conservative Party conference to inspire party members:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_C992KPzKs

“Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent , industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous, and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph.”
George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four, Part II, chapter 9.

I think we are being a bit harsh on the Tories with this one. These same people screamed with joy at the prospect of Kenny Everett kicking Michael Foot’s walking stick away.

They are brought up from an early age to spot and exploit any weakness, real or imagined, for their own gain. Jeremy Clarkson’s attack on Brown’s missing eye is testament to that; you don’t have to go far to find reference to Cyclops on blogs and message boards. These people’s instinct is for the racist, sexist, homophobic remarks.

They spend their entire time picking on the weak, the poor and especially mental illness. These are the people who condemned thousands of mentally ill to wandering about seaside town or languishing in prison.

Once this story had been concocted by the vilest scum this Country has to offer, the Tories were duty bound to run with it, it is in their genes. You may as well complain about a puppy shitting a carpet.

As has been pointed out ad nauseam above, the line of attack that Gordon Brown is a bit bonkers has been trotted out for years, largely by Blairite Labour MPs.

The ‘story’ that he is on anti-depressants comes from a Lib-Dem/Green voting blogger with no Tory connections.

Tim J @ 108

Yeah, well maybe. Truth and the Tories are not exactly best buddies, are they?

You will have noticed how the Tory Party have came out and denounced such sickening smears and sought to defend Brown’s right to privacy and called for such attacks to end?

Dave Cameron has issued a statement condemning these baseless attacks in the strongest possible terms?

Er, no. Despite having a comanding lead in the polls, they have decended to the gutter, if ‘decended’ is the correct term. Perhaps ‘remained’ is more appropriate.

109 – you think that the Tories should make a statement on whether Gordon Brown should be asked a question in a Sunday morning interview? And that if they don’t they’re in the gutter? Bizarre.

Tim J @ 111

They should condemn these unfounded smears as totally unaccaptable under any circumstances. The reason they are unable to do so is because that is the nature of the Tory beast.

They are used to attacking the man and not the ball. The Right wing attack dogs show no mercy when it comes to personal abuse and these sickening attacks. Witness the attacks on Obama. No decent political party need indulge in this type of thing. McBride walked within hours of his silly little email, but then again, much as I have come to dislike the Labour Party, I have to concede they play to a higher standard than the bastard Tories, most of whom I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

I’m down with the playing the man not the ball analogy.

24 HOURS LATER AND THE TROLLS HAVE FAILED TO ANSWER.

STILL WAITING……….

#62: Charlie2

You’ve not mentioned Eden’s successor, Macmillan, whose wife reportedly had a long affair with Bob Boothby.

So what? Bob Boothby also maintained a friendship with the Kray brothers, quote:

“Boothby had a colourful, if reasonably discreet private life, mainly because the press refused to print what they knew of him, or were prevented from doing so. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, said in a 1991 interview with Woodrow Wyatt that ‘The press knew all about it’, referring to his affairs. She also described him as ‘a bounder but not a cad’. He was married twice: in 1935 to Diana Cavendish (marriage dissolved in 1937) and in 1967 to Wanda Sanna. The writer and broadcaster Sir Ludovic Kennedy has said ‘…to my certain knowledge [Boothby] fathered at least three children by the wives of other men (two by one woman, one by another).’

“From 1930 he had a long affair with Dorothy Macmillan, wife of the Conservative politician and later Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Boothby is thought by many to have been the father of Sarah Macmillan, who was raised by the Macmillans as their own daughter. This connection to Macmillan, via his wife, has been seen as one of the reasons why the police didn’t investigate the death of Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire, who died in the presence of suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams. The duke was Lady Dorothy’s brother, and it is thought the police were wary of drawing press attention to her while she was being unfaithful.

“Boothby was bisexual and had a homosexual relationship with Ronald Kray, the younger Kray twin. Although initially known to the Sunday Express, the paper opted not to publish a story that would damage the Conservative Party . . . ”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Boothby,_Baron_Boothby

I wonder what MI5 would have made of all that if Labour politicians in government had any such colourful associations.

I wonder what MI5 would have made of all that if Labour politicians in government had any such colourful associations.

Wasn’t Tom Driberg matey with some very rum people, besides the KGB of course?

“Wasn’t Tom Driberg matey with some very rum people, besides the KGB of course?”

Never met Driberg but there were certainly lots of rumours current in the 1950s following on from the Burgess, Maclean and Philby defections to the Soviet Union, perhaps especially because Guy Burgess was also gay.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when Wilson was PM, there was much whispering and barroom gossip about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia, and about him being a covert KGB agent an’ all – remember Hugh Gaitskell’s mysterious illness and unexpected death in January 1963, which had created the opportunity for Wilson to become Labour leader?
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/releases/2005/highlights_march/march14/default.htm

Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror Newspapers, was the public front end of proposals canvassed for a supposedly non-partisan coalition government of the “good and great” to rescue the country in the 1970s with much talk about Britain becoming “ungovernable” after the mining strike of 1973/4.

All that got mixed up with the search by the security services for the Soviet moles and spies who hadn’t been exposed. By the account of Tony Wright (ex MI5) in: Spycatcher (1987), MI5 operatives burgled their way around London and other places in the search for incriminating intelligence about subversives but without any notable success:
http://www.namebase.org/sources/JD.html

“Those were the days, my friend . . ”
http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?q=those+were+the+days+mary+hopkin&hl=en&emb=0&aq=1&oq=those+were+the+days#

It seems to me that Marr was just trying to join the ranks of those other macho interviewers, Robinson, Paxman, Humphries and Boulton. They seem to be an attention seeking bunch, asking inappropriate questions designed to embarrass and even humiliate. Robinson in particular can’t help smirking after travelling around the world with the PM, then asking a question in a foreign land, in front of foreign leaders, unrelated to the reason for the journey, that makes many of us at home squirm.
It’s bullying, plain, simple and deeply unedifying. Cameron started it in Parliament, and the pack follows, like schoolchildren on the playground. It will backfire!


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  1. oliver heath

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  16. Marr: I “got it in the neck” over pill question | Left Foot Forward

    […] Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy writes that Marr’s question, “legitimses right-wing smears.” Hundal goes on: “It […]

  17. Politics Summary: Tuesday, September 29th | Left Foot Forward

    […] Pressure was building last night on Andrew Marr for his question to Gordon Brown about “prescription painkillers and pills.” Channel 4 News reports that John Ward, the man whose blog first carried allegations that Brown was taking anti-depressants, has said he “has no proof to support the story.” The BBC has received more than 100 complaints while Marr has “got it in the neck” from delegates at Labour conference. Liberal Conspiracy says the questioning “legitimises right-wing smears.” […]

  18. Marr on Brown Fallout: Something to be Thankful For « Bad Conscience

    […] Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy has rightly been up in arms about the matter (and here, where he points us towards journalist Nick Assinder’s criticisms of Marr […]

  19. dji45

    RT @libcon: BBC's Andrew Marr legitimises right-wing smears http://t.co/DO42QNrG

  20. Gael

    BrownPM was subject to a vile media attack by right-wing smears Q his sanity calling him ‘bonkers’, demented http://t.co/TsQR61w6 #leveson

  21. Katherine Smith

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