Johnny Mercer MP has called me a “c***” on Twitter.
Obviously I’m flattered to be likened to my favourite anatomical feature. Even so, even in 2020, is it really appropriate that a minister of Her Majesty’s government should be using such language against members of the public on social media?
Johnny Mercer is a junior government minister at the Ministry of Defence — Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for People and Veterans, no less.
Under the Conservative party’s code of conduct for ministers, this requires him to:
Lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance
Treat others in a professional and straightforward manner
Act with honesty and probity and in a manner which upholds the reputation and values of the Conservative Party.
Do we think that calling someone a “c***” on social media passes these tests? I’m not sure it does. And though I’m not remotely squeamish about bad language, I do think that parliamentary standards have reached a pretty low ebb when a minister of the crown feels it’s acceptable to lurk on social media like some minor league troll, attempting to whip up his followers up into a frenzy of rage — presumably with the intention of crushing and demeaning someone who has dared to disagree with his viewpoint.
I don’t want an apology because I think Mercer is a deeply second-rate individual and it brings me no end of joy that he has made a pillock of himself in this way.
But I do worry about the bigger picture. Traditionally the Conservative party has been the one that periodically tries to rescue the United Kingdom from the damage that has been done to it under socialist regimes like those of Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and so on.
Sure, with the exception of Margaret Thatcher, it doesn’t usually do a very good job of it. But generally, it’s expected that when it comes to the governance of Britain, the Conservatives are the least worst option.
With people like Mercer promoted to ministerial positions, though, I fear the Conservative party has lost the plot. In fact, I have for some time found myself in agreement with the mighty Peter Hitchens that the only hope for the future of conservatism in Britain is for the Conservative party to be destroyed utterly, for the party is no longer conservative.
Mercer is a depressing example of this. Last year, he endorsed the smearing of the Conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton:
“No brainer”, eh? On this at least the intellectually challenged woodentop Mercer is more than qualified to speak.
He also took a very relaxed view on the hard left’s tactics of throwing milkshakes over politicians like Nigel Farage.
If there’s an unconservative cause around to champion, then Johnny “I’m well aware that some people in my party don’t consider me a true Tory” Mercer will seize it with both clumsy mitts.
His latest intervention is sadly typical of this. Mercer was responding, in his cackhanded way, to a comment I’d made on the subject of compulsory masks on public transport, in supermarkets, and so on.
I believe that they are an entirely unnecessary piece of gesture politics by a failing government that has long since lost the plot.
Increasing numbers of us feel this way. And I’m really not sure it’s an acceptable response for Mercer to dismiss our principled and informed reservations by telling us just to do as we’re told — and implying that we’re all “c***s”.