BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
I felt sorry for our Deputy Editor – my mate, James Bembridge – this weekend when he came under attack from Owen Jones and his leftist hordes in one of those Twitter pile-ons the Left so relish. There were numerous tweets suggesting that Bembers’ hard-drive needed checking. Bembers was accused of being a ‘nonce’ by multiple smearers, some of whom – including former Labour parliamentary candidate George Aylett – should know much better.
Of course the ‘nonce’ smear is right out of the communist playbook. One thinks amongst others of poor Alexander Litvinenko who was smeared by the Russians’ oldest propaganda trick. Boris Berezovsky returned the favour to Putin, knowing full well that the apparatus of the Russian state would use the smear on him too. It stuck. The Soviet Union used to try to undermine capitalism by lying that the US was so loath to use social services that its children were forced into lives of crime and prostitution. Playing the paedophile card was seen as an effective smear that awoke the public’s senses – for there is no greater contrast than that posited against infant innocence.
In the US, the madcap far right also use the paedo smear as one of the weapons in their arsenal. It is the go-to smear of fringe crowds. One thinks of the wingnuts of QAnon and Pizzagate – their smearing of Tom Hanks and John McCain. It’s a crafty tool – how on earth is the target supposed to respond? With a sex tape demonstrating permanent conjugal embrace?
Of course Bembers has no need to respond here – this is hardly of Carl Beech-Tom Watson-Leon Brittan proportions. In any case we here at CSM know his ex-partner, many years older than him. In more ways than one, the Deputy Editor is an antique collector – at least true vintage – and all that are acquainted with him know he has never had a penchant for minors.
I often think that those who use the smear are more than likely projecting their own flaws. Over the years I have been targeted occasionally too – by a nose-pierced, self-publishing crime writer in his fifties who still lives with his parents and always had a proclivity for snatching a glance sideways at the urinals, by an outspoken gentleman who holidays anally in Malaysia with his partner, by a mother’s-boy librarian who lives in an attic in the paedophile capital of Hastings, and by a psychopath search engine optimiser who spends his spare time playing scoutmaster. One of them has even implemented the dreary ‘reverse paedo smear’ – falsely accusing me of accusing him of the crime – which, I have to say, renders me even more suspicious of both his proclivities and sanity.
What can one do but laugh off these smears save bothering CID with yet another stalker update? As one of seven and father of two, children have always been omnipresent and to think of them sexually is an absurd and unfeasible leap – I have to say those that do, they have a screw loose somewhere. ‘I’m married to a Venezuelan model’, I respond to accusers – to pinch and redirect a Newmanism, ‘why go out for hamburger when I have steak at home?’. In any case, the opening to Baywatch suffices for extracurricular excitement these days – the concept of a Dua Lipa mouthing the word ‘Boomer’ during pillow talk does not get close to Scarlett Johansson well into her late thirties sporting a satin negligee. In short, you get the idea – however much you try, being accused of paedophilia through a smear campaign is impossible to defend with mere words.
Despite most calls for lowering the age of consent coming from them, in the UK it is the fringe left that tends to use the nonce smear the most. They ought to grow up and stop using it. In the past Owen Jones has been the stirrer of such noxious nonsense. He’s hardly succumbed to the paranoid and humourless level of that ever-iwate midget-Hitler, Peter Jukes – a rock spider from the same fringe on the Corbynite Left with a similar, albeit smaller, strafbataillon of Twitter trolls. Still, he should know better than to go after an ideological opposite in this way. He may argue that he never suggested that the authorities ‘look at Bembers’ hard drive’ but his zombie flock – the likes of Aylett – are merely following the well-trodden track of their shepherd:
Let’s hope that, as they find support harder to come by, those spent outliers like Jones do not play the paedophile card more often. Smearing public embodiments of voter-supporting success stories like Brexit and the 2019 General Election – that so reject them and their blood-spattered collectivist ideologies – is one of the only moves that they have left. Too bad it’s an effective one.
As for Bembers, he’s made of tough stuff. A Twitter pile-on has only fortified him for battles ahead. He is hardly the Angel of Twatter in any case and some of his responses this weekend sunk to the perennial losers’ level. Still, I have told him to look into suing Aylett. And I am sure that he would welcome an inspection of his hard drive by the authorities at any time. Indeed I suspect the only web search of his that will trigger the police algorithm is ‘do Smeg kettles come in fuchsia?’
Dominic Wightman is the Editor of Country Squire Magazine.