In a previous missive, I discussed the unrighteous behaviour of the newly appointed campaigns and communications manager for Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North. Joseph “Seph” Brown had, during academic year 2008/9, been the Anti-Racism Officer for the Student Union at the London School of Economics, where he had been studying international relations.
During this CV-gilding stint, Brown had appeared in poses such as this:
On more than one occassion, complaints were made against his conduct and attitude towards misbehaving Jewish students. Who would have thunk it? As reported in the LSE student newspaper, The Beaver in March 2009 (see Google Cache):
Union Communications Officer Dan Sheldon said that Anti-Racism Officer Joseph Brown’s behaviour during the occupation of the Old Theatre, when Brown referred to having “shot down a Zionist”, was “unacceptable”, “foolish” and “beyond belief”.
The incident, which occurred in the first week of Lent Term immediately before the UGM on Thursday, was documented in a complaint email which the student in question sent regarding Brown’s behaviour.
In the email, the student described the incident saying: “He even went so far as to pretend to hold a machine gun and said ‘I loaded the bullets in, aimed, fired, and shot down that Zionist’ (including the motions that go along with all those actions – and a huge smug smile on his face, searching for approval from the group). Needless to say, as a Jewish person and a Zionist, I felt extremely uncomfortable. Regardless of my faith or political beliefs, I strongly believe that anyone would have been extremely offended by those actions.”
The student said that she felt unable to report the incident to Brown in his capacity as Anti-Racism Officer. According to the student, Brown later explained and apologised for his comments. Brown also claimed that his role as Anti-Racism Officer has nothing to do with political opinions as they are not racial issues, and that he “would pretend to shoot down a Tory too.”
I can see the reasoning behind this, it has to be said, but it is not attractive. Brown is insisting that he would be prepared to threaten and intimidate anyone if he objected to their politics!
The student added: “I told him that I still felt it was discrimination, and he shot back with ‘well, I am not the Anti-Discrimination Officer, I am the Anti-Racism Officer.'” Brown denied this.
He had told the student that he was not the anti-political discrimination officer, he said.
What a horrid little brat, dazzled by his own perception of cleverness. Even if this were an acceptable excuse (hint, it is not), he remained a student officer and required to uphold all standards; not a selfish loyalty only to his narrow personal remit.
He said that the incident “was resolved privately between myself and the student who overheard my comments.”
In a tersely worded statement, Mr Gardiner said: “Mr Brown clearly became a controversial figure at the LSE. This was something I consider he should have made me aware of. He did not. That was either naivety or a serious breach of trust. I do not expect that those who work for me should share all my political views. I do expect them to ensure that their own views do not get in the way of the job they have to do. Mr. Brown’s capacity to fulfil his duties as my campaigns and communications manager has been seriously impaired and I have dismissed him.”
I assume Gardiner is now preparing a more rigorous vetting policy, or will return to hiring members of his own family.
There is no freedom of speech issue here. This does not extend to guarantee of employment, and all Brown appears to have been able to offer in meaningful experience is his stint as the Anti-Racism Officer at LSE-SE, which evidently was sub prime. The Unite representative had said:
“This is not about Israel- Palestine, freedom of speech nor any petty student politics battles. It’s about basic human civility, something Joseph Brown has failed to consider on more than one occasion. I am glad that he will not be leading the Students’ Union next year, after being defeated in his sabbatical ambitions by such a large margin”
So it appears that Gardiner was not Brown’s original choice, having initially wished to extend his student life by one year at the expense of public bodies or family largesse.
Maybe he had been planning to advance to a PPC and launch his career in politics. The wider issue of individuals manifestly unsuited for executive power or political responsibility going by stepping-stone from the responsibility-free world of student politics to parliamentary researcher to MP.
Brown’s revolting behaviour is not consigned to the dim and distant past, after which he has built-up a record of responsible behaviour. It is nine months whence, and I certainly do assume he touted his period as Anti-Racism Officer when applying for the position with Gardiner’s office.
There are shelves which need stacking at Tescos, Joe, if you can bear handling Israeli cous-cous. BOHICA, take it like the rest of us.