Despite the occasional slippage, I’ve resisted the temptation to blog much about Miranda Grell’s fall from grace. She is entitled to defend her reputation and mount an appeal, but now that appeal has failed, I thought I’d make a few points myself.
Though it appalls me to realise this fact, I’ve been around the block a few times now, so when I read people make extravagant claims that this court case is the thin end of the wedge which will lead to councillors being convicted of making slurs they did not utter left, right and centre, I can only laugh hollowly. This is the first conviction brought forth under the RPA 1983, and only came about because it appears that Grell was so blatant that even her own ward colleagues baulked at her behaviour and that the consequences were so severe that a blameless man was driven out of his home. I can recall at least one occassion when a coucillor of my acquaintance was subject to a concerted campaign to out him on the doorsteps of his ward. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for him by any means but it didn’t lead to any action.
Secondly, what I truly don’t understand is that despite the fact that Grell has even admitted some culpability (making a qualified admission that she may have suggested that Smith was sleeping with an above-the-age-of-consent-but-still-young-nudge-nudge-wink-wink 19 year old), absolutely no mea culpa has been forthcoming. She’s a young woman, a three year ban is no hindrance to a politician playing the long game. Why didn’t she simply accept she had behaved appallingly, take it on the chin, personally apologise to Barry Smith and start her political rehabilitation?
Lib Dems out for blood may not have been satisfied, but it would have calmed things down and, apart from anything else, would have been the right thing to do. It would have been the Christian thing to do.
Instead, we’ve been witness to this pantomime where she has managed to turn the whole thing into an attack on both her ward and on black politicians generally. Without a hint of irony, she’s plastered a photo of her as a baby on her website – what the hell does that mean? We’ve had at least one example of blatant sock-puppetry from her campaign designed entirely to confuse the issue. Thus far, she does not appear to have shown even the slightest remorse over the fact that, for whatever reason, Barry Smith has been attacked in the street and forced to move out of the area. If she’d won the appeal, and I’ve never personally discounted that possibility, it was clear that a torrent of self-righteous abuse would now be being rained down upon everyone who even hinted that she may have been a little bit naughty.
Yet a man’s life has been wrecked.
She is still a member of the Labour Party and still a member of Compass’ Management Committee. Is it really too much to ask that both organisations now take swift action to rectify this situation?