Last week Neil McEvoy faced a tribunal over allegations of bullying. His crime -A campaign of harassment? A hounding? A prolonged and sustained series of attacks? No – just one unsustained sentence which may or may not have ruffled feathers, which may or may not have been aimed at a person who, it was said, was made to fear for her job ( but not enough that she made an official complaint until egged on by Labour- nothing quite like seeking out a sniff of an opportunity and grasping it with both hands, is there…..) , a sentence which may or may not have meant what Labour now maintain it meant (and which is still open to interpretation) and which was almost certainly made in the heat of a very anxious moment.
“I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL MAY 2017 WHEN THE RESTRUCTURE OF THE COUNCIL HAPPENS”.It’s still ambiguous.
The all too predictable ensuing social media charge was always a no-brainer. Neil has made enough enemies by now and it was always a given that they would seize their chance to tear him down. But disappointingly, rather than these attacks being led by Labour, they were led by Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru AM, and it gave oxygen to a whole host of similarly indignant and vocal Neil bashers. I’m no fan of Bethan Jenkins, this I’ve never denied, and consider her appointment as one of the things which holds Plaid Cymru back as a party. Give me two Neils over ten Bethan Jenkins and Wales would be in a much better place, but for as long as Bethan can lead the charge and garner some retweets and likes, I doubt she cares. In fact, I know she doesn’t (noting that something as great as going against her party, dragging it down to UKIP level and alienating a majority of its supporters doesn’t worry her, it raises serious questions about her sincerity and commitment).
She doesn’t care what the voters think. Can you ever imagine Neil McEvoy saying anything like that? It could be said, in fact, that her personal dislike of McEvoy took precedence over the hopes of the people who she relies on for her votes, those same people that put their faith in Plaid Cymru. Her attack, no matter what the basis, was ill advised in the extreme.
So who is she leading? Twitter has the answers…
The Bethan Jenkins onslaught crew is largely made up of faux feminists, Labour party members male and female (Cardiff based), Labour candidates in the upcoming election (again Cardiff based), lobbyists and UKIP. The best collective noun I can find is opportunists. With an election on the horizon and Cardiff Labour in panic mode, they were gifted.
I’ve been watching these people gang up, tweet, share and mock while screaming’bully’ in their shrillest tones and have been almost incredulous at their hypocrisy because there is not one person who, when challenged, is willing to acknowledge that if bullying exists, it exists in all walks of life, including within their ranks. Take this Labour councillor, for example. Throwing down a challenge to Plaid Cymru to ‘sort Neil McEvoy out’ while staying tight lipped and dismissive of Cardiff Labour’s actions. Seven accusations of bullying from the Labour councillors, but she doesn’t care because they aren’t Neil McEvoy
There’s also the young female Labour candidate who climbed aboard her soap box to give us a lecture on cliched feminism but who won’t speak out against the many many incidences of misogynistic bullying within her own party. That same woman who calls Neil’s supporters ‘enablers’ for not joining this inglorious witch hunt while being silently complicit in her own party’s bullying. There are the UKIP staff who agree that they will always stand up to bullies until you ask them to decry their own bosses and then block you. Men from the Cardiff Labour group who, despite having a long documented history of homophobic and sexist bullying, are now coming at Neil McEvoy guns a-blazing. Egg accounts, troll accounts, this account, that account….hypocrisy abounds and the onslaught has been prolific. These people speak without regard for their own behaviours and ignore the fact that, as they proclaim to feel contempt for bullies, they have now become what they claim to despise.
We can add others to the bashing mix too. People who, for example, were featured in the media years ago and who were contradicted back then by Erin Pizzey, one of Neil’s greatest defenders. I will let this article speak for itself
Neil McEvoy is Marmite. He doesn’t fit the shallow middle class mould that so many expect from their politicians and he is outspoken and sometimes abrasive. He is also tenacious, dedicated and relentless, hard working and an impatient champion of the underdog, and God knows that we need one of those in Wales. He’s also an achiever. Not one for hob-nobbing with crachach when he can talk to real people and or a man for suited and booted top table affairs when he can be out there campaigning for improvement. He doesn’t ‘fit’ Cardiff Bay in the traditional sense and this gives people a headache because they don’t know what to do with him. He sometimes says the wrong thing and it sometimes rubs people up the wrong way but is that bullying? I don’t think so. Best charge I can lay at his door is that he’s sometimes verbally ill advised or undiplomatic – but look where Plaid’s diplomacy has got us. Right. Nowhere much.
I defend Neil McEvoy’s passion and I also defend people who are on the receiving end of bitchy social media attacks. Those self same people who scream I HATE BULLIES and who are now engaging in gang warfare against Neil mcEvoy don’t see the contradiction between their own words and actions, so where then does their line exist? Amongst other things, I think it lies somewhere between revenge, fear and determination to stop him in his tracks coupled with mucho confusion from a faction of young women who are too entitled to consider the world from a man’s perspective. When he draws attention to the abuse of men, it is never at the expense of the abuse of women and when he campaigns for children to see both their parents, it is because he wants justice for the child. Too many women misinterpret that and use it to attack him as a misogynist, but he’s right.
Does he warrant all these unsubstantiated attacks on Twitter? Of course not; nobody does. Is he the victim of class warfare? I think so. Are people attaching themselves to this story because he achieves things which threaten them? Yes. Has he made mistakes? Who of us hasn’t, but why are his ones challenged by people when the ones of people like, for example, the Cardiff and Llangennech Labour groups allowed to go largely unchallenged?
Does this mean Neil McEvoy has never bullied anybody ever? I have no idea whether he has or hasn’t, but trial and persecution by social media innuendo are immature, disingenuous, devious, unprincipled and ugly. If there is or ever has been a genuine issue with bullying, there have always been ways to address it, and whipping up witch hunts doesn’t qualify as constructive.
Neil McEvoy is a fighter and this is to be admired but behind every fighter is a real person with real feelings. If the people, the trolls, the egg accounts don’t think that their words impact, they are wrong. The only people who would remain unaffected by these assaults are sociopaths, and Neil is anything but.
Am I saying that Neil was right to verbally attack the ombudsman? I don’t know enough detail but recognise, of course, that it’s politically imprudent to do so. I also know that it’s deemed imprudent to attack Labour and their lies. In fact, and despite the Plaid Cymru celebrations that manifested when he defied the odds and came within 1100 votes of beating the incumbent AM, Mark Drakeford, certain factions within Plaid have found much of what Neil McEvoy does to be imprudent.
Due process will now be followed, Neil will be investigated, suspended and told to reign himself in. Who knows – he might even be told to never come back. Social media accounts will go into meltdown as they perceive this as a victory and one in the eye for an agitator and Plaid will go right back to playing pleasant politics while Labour carry on carrying on.
Meanwhile, SNP and Sinn Fein are doing well……
To conclude, Martin Shipton summed it up perfectly.