Since the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, the new local MP Emma Dent Coad has been a leading figure in the debate over how the disaster happened. At least 80 people were killed in a tragedy that should not have been possible.
It will certainly be interesting to hear Labour MP Dent Coad’s evidence on Grenfell to the public inquiry. She must know a lot about what went on, because as a councillor she was for a long period part of the set-up overseeing the management handling the failed regeneration. She was for many years a member of the Kensington and Chelsea TMO, the tenants management organisation which managed the building. In 2012 at a meeting she praised the regeneration of Grenfell Tower, pointing out that the residents (subsequently and justifiably concerned about safety) had been consulted. From the summer of 2014 she became a member of the planning committee and she has served on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.
It is good to see the local MP sticking up for the survivors of Grenfell, but there does seem to be a tendency on Dent Coad’s part to go long on dishing it out and short on self-reflection.
That is the impression left by her ghastly comments at a meeting at Labour party conference which was revealed by The Sun this week. After a row, the MP refused to apologise and claimed she had been joking when she attacked Prince Harry’s military record. If it was really a joke it was a very long and not very funny joke containing no amusing lines whatsoever.
“So then we go on to the brothers, you know. Bless them, they are so thick aren’t they? [inaudible] stupid, aren’t they? And they, you know, they’ve been pressured into these jobs, they don’t like it, they go, ‘Oh no I don’t think…’ And then they complain – one minute they’re out there in, you know, they’re bamboozling the world and they’re having a fabulous time and being playboys. And then the next minute they go, ‘Uh, I want my privacy, you know, everyone’s following me and my girlfriend.’ And so it’s a, it’s a pure game and I think it’s really disgraceful actually.”
“And apart from the fact that Harry can’t actually fly a helicopter, so when he goes in a helicopter he has to have a – he gets the little plastic one that they stick on [inaudible]. This is true – he tried to pass the helicopter exam about four times and he couldn’t get through it at all so he always goes for the (cough) co-pilot. So he just sits there going ‘vroom vroom’ while the guy actually drives the [inaudible]. So he’s much safer running the thing they made up for him. [inaudible sentence].
That is simply untrue, but never mind. Harry was said to be a rather good pilot, and he flew Apaches as a co-pilot and gunner in the frontline against the Taliban in his second tour in Afghanistan.
But nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with that. But by God they had to go round and round in circles finding them things to do, they really do. £19million a year each one of them gets for that, that’s our money.”
Meanwhile, Prince Harry has spent the week at the Invictus Games, which he helped found. It is stirring work. At Invictus, held this year in Toronto, wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans take part in sports including indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
The government minister Tobias Ellwood, a former serviceman, a hero of the attack earlier this year on the Houses of Parliament, responded with dignity and showed how it should be done:
“Emma Dent Coad MP: I invite you to
#InvictusGames -learn how it started & about our brave Military. And – who inspires our injured heroes.”
Well said. But what I struggle to understand is why someone who is an MP – Harry’s own MP it seems – would be so profoundly unpleasant about another person, especially one who has served their country and does such good work with veterans? What is going on inside your head, in terms of basic manners, if you think that mocking him and calling him thick is fine?
It’s almost as though the Corbynite left is stoking up class war and using appalling rhetoric that would be barred if deployed in connection with any other social grouping. But my colleague Olivia Utley has written a much better piece about that for Reaction, up shortly.