In recent weeks Ben Bradley MP has been mired with political controversy, propelling Mansfield into the forefront of the national political focus. The market town in north Nottinghamshire, has the potential to become one of these locations that great political shift begins from. Such controversy has centred around the three key scandals of his time as MP; his membership of a far-right political Facebook group, revelations about controversial blog posts made several years ago, and what has been referred to in both the media and social media as Corbyn’s ‘Czechgate’.
Though the Conservatives in the region scramble to right the ship in the wake of Bradley’s political blunders, the damage has already been done; sparking demonstrations in the region that have gained national support from such prominent figures as Owen Jones and senior officials in the Labour party. Mansfield is a typically overlooked political constituency, having been largely bypassed during the great striking battles between the Conservatives and the Miners unions in the 1980’s. Similarly, it is not a great place of electoral change, with only UKIP gaining any new territory on the 70 years of Labour dominance over the region’s seat in parliament before Bradley gaining the seat from Labour in 2017.
Mr Bradley’s comments have caused serious political damage causing national criticism to such a previously passive constituency. Ben Bradley was already known for his radically right views, having previously written that the police had not used sufficient force in dealing with the 2011 Tottenham riots, and his fears that the United Kingdom would be “Drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters”. The revelations of his current Facebook activity have done little else but compound these criticisms. His membership of a far-right political group has sparked widespread condemnation; notably for the radical nature of the group’s political proposals. Such stances on policy within the group include the full privatisation of healthcare in the United Kingdom, the full sale of all council houses nationwide, and even discussion surrounding the idea of ‘workhouses’ for those in severe debt. The key question being asked by protesters, and indeed many groups nationwide, is how such Victorian views, unrepresentative of both Mansfield and the general electorate can be held by a democratically elected member of parliament, especially in 21st century Britain.
Such scandal was made significantly worse by the emergence of ‘Czechgate’. Citing at the time unconfirmed reports surrounding a former Czech operative in the 1980’s, Bradley made defamatory accusations towards Jeremy Corbyn; going so far as to accuse Corbyn as a collaborator with the former Soviet Union. A senior figure in the Czech administrative department has since commented, saying that these accusations hold no factual merit and are entirely false. If there is perhaps one rule in politics, its not to accuse the opposition of being an enemy intelligence agent based on a report that emerges as false. Though Bradley has since apologised to Corbyn and the Labour party, as well as offered charitable donations to a charity of the Labour leader’s choosing, it is substantially difficult to revive a political career damaged by a candidate’s own false cries of treason.
It is for this reason that several hundred activists protested in Mansfield on the 24th February. The Peoples News spoke to Elsie Greenwood, one of the campaigners and activists from the Mansfield campaign on the 24th February, who stressed the importance of Labour remaining active and proactive in helping to raise awareness of the issues surrounding Ben Bradley and the Conservative party.
“I think it’s important we don’t get complacent.” She stated, “It’s clear, the conservatives aren’t fit to govern, and disaster after disaster is proving this. However, as Labour activists whilst publicising their errors we must all prove to the electorate that we are the better party to govern. With such an incredible manifesto, we now need to talk to not only Labour voters on the doorstep, but previous Conservative voters and newly registered citizens”
Regarding the actions and comments of Ben Bradley, she emphasised that his incompetence and slander is not only evident from the past, but has continued into the current political climate.
“The truth is, whether you’re 19 or 45 you should be held accountable for your actions. The comments made were vile, and it shows he has no sense of reality. Whether he should receive major repercussions for his previous statements is debatable, but ironically he hasn’t stopped making inappropriate and ignorant comments.”
It is clear that Ben Bradley is yet another example of the political disasters that have mired the Conservative party in recent years. With the rising youth movement of the Labour party, and the growing consensus that the Conservatives are struggling to retain political competence in Brexit Britain, the revelations surrounding Ben Bradley could not have come at a worse time for the party. The question remains, however, as to whether Ben Bradley should face repercussions or removal for his political ineptitude – and as to whether Mansfield may be the beginning of the Conservative slide out of Number 10.