Last year during the early weeks of the pandemic, I wrote in this column about the dangers of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news, particularly spread on social media. I was right to do this as sadly we’ve seen a constant barrage of false claims put out, especially from anti-vaxxers.
Vaccine hesitancy due to disinformation from anti-vaxxers and Covid-sceptics has led to people dying. This happened in my own extended family abroad, where a relation believed Covid was a hoax due to disinformation, including disgracefully from some politicians in that country. Adamantly, he wouldn’t socially distance or get vaccinated. Tragically a few months ago, he died from Covid-19 aged 63.
In the UK, I applaud the vast majority of Conservative and Labour politicians who put out the right safety messages about Covid-19 and vaccinations. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been some grubby behaviour. One of the most despicable things I’ve seen was Labour Leader Keir Starmer repeatedly saying ‘Johnson variant’ instead of Delta variant, when the Delta variant is killing hundreds of thousands of people around the world. I lost all respect for Keir Starmer after this, a man shamelessly putting nasty political smearing before common decency. If I ever become Leader of the Council and he becomes Prime Minister, I will refuse to meet him if he visits Crawley.
Last week saw some Covid-related fake news in Crawley. At Prime Minister’s Questions, Henry Smith MP commendably asked Boris Johnson that given how badly Crawley had been affected by the pandemic, would the PM look favourably upon Crawley’s city status bid? As the bid hadn’t yet been submitted, the PM replied that he wasn’t aware of it. A Labour MP then jokingly shouted out “resign!” which made Boris laugh.
Crawley Labour Councillors instantly took to social media claiming that the PM was “showing his contempt for Crawley” by ‘laughing at Crawley’s bid’. This was then published by one newspaper as accurate - when it was completely bogus.
Such deceit shows a contempt for the truth. Crawley deserves better than politicians who insult our intelligence by peddling fake political smears.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
24th November 2021