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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why are mainstream politicians starting to use terrorist attacks to make political points?

There was predictable and justifiable outrage yesterday when Plaid Cymru's leader tweeted to suggest that the Barcelona attack was "far right" terrorism. Thirteen people died when a van drove into pedestrians in the Spanish city, with so-called Islamic State (IS) saying it was responsible. However, Leanne Wood suggested that far-right ideologies are driving both IS and white supremacists.

Both UKIP and the Tories condemned here remarks with Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies, saying it was "unbelievable" Leanne Wood had speculated it might be linked to a far-right group:

His fellow Tory assembly member Janet Finch-Saunders said the comments were "at best poorly timed and ill-judged, at worst cynical and morally depraved".

"Politicising terror so fresh after an attack can never be acceptable, and only adds to the hysteria and toxicity of debate.

Leanne Wood's explanation was tendentious at best. some would say superficial, ill-judged and misconceived:

"I am staggered by the reaction to the point that Isis and white supremacism both have far right ideologies driving them.

"Both see their group as superior to others. Both see people who are not in their group fair targets for abuse, violence and even death. Both hate minorities and consider women to be less than men.

"Both believe in using extreme violence to repress people with different views. This is far right/ fascism ideology. How can it not be?"

But wait, what is this? Another politician seeking to make similar points only this time the target is the 'far left'. According to the Independent, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has been accused of using terrorism for scoring “political points” by sharing a post attempting to link a Barcelona attacker with the left-wing campaign group Momentum:

Less than 24 hours after 14 people were killed in the popular Spanish city by terrorists, Mr Goldsmith’s brother, Ben, commented on a post which suggested one of the men involved in the attack had shared an anti-Semitic video, alleging “a global Jewish conspiracy to take over the world”. 

Responding to the post on Twitter, Ben Goldsmith asked: “Maybe he got it from Labour’s Momentum movement? They make for weird bedfellows, Islamism and hard-leftism, but they’re joined at the hip.”

The Richmond MP, Mr Goldsmith, then shared his brother’s provocative remarks.

Strangely neither the Welsh Tories nor UKIP appear to have responded to these equally inappropriate remarks.

What is wrong with these politicians? People have died, their families are grieving, the authorities are still hunting suspects and all they want to talk about are dubious similarities with other groups (some of whom may have been involved in violence elsewhere) who had nothing to do with these attacks.

They really need to get a grip.
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