Yesterday (June 20th) evening, at a Mansion House speech by chancellor Philip Hammond, Tory Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field violently assaulted a woman, Janet Baker, who was protesting about lack of government action to address the climate crisis. Field’s crime was recorded by a TV broadcaster and the clip shown on news bulletins.
“A major security breach occurred at a dinner I attended last night when a large group of protestors suddenly and noisily stormed into Mansion House. In the confusion many guests understandably felt threatened and when one protestor rushed past me towards the top table I instinctively reacted. There was no security present and I was for a split-second genuinely worried she might have been armed. As a result I grasped the intruder firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possible. I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present.”
His statement tried to paint a picture of a scenario that he claimed existed in his head as animalistic justification for his behaviour – “I instinctively reacted” – including evocative language to grossly exaggerate what he post-pretended to perceive as threatening: “Major security breach,” “suddenly and noisily stormed,” “in the confusion,” “rushed past me towards the top table,” and “genuinely worried.”
He co-opted what he chose to imagine other people in the room were thinking as a tool to enhance his decision to attack but the video clip showed the other attendees looking on bemused at Field’s behaviour. No-one seemed “threatened” or “worried.” Subsequent accounts of the incident by people who were there debunked his assertion that there was room-wide worry.
Field referenced the “the current climate.” Did he mean the “the current climate” of people getting milkshook?
In an attempt to justify “grasping firmly” and “removing swiftly” he said “she might have been armed.” That comment was typical of armed police whenever they have shot an unarmed person. Indeed, the entire statement could have been copied and pasted from thousands of police statements on “officer-involved shootings.”
He and his lawyer concocted a cause-and-effect storyboard to conclude that Field had no choice but to do as he did. He did not regret any specific actions he took. Field depicted his actions as reactive and instinctive. Not only was the statement a pre-defence but it was also a disgusting attempt to applaud him as quick thinking and heroic.
In April Field asked police to be more violent against Extinction Rebellion protesters in London: “I would be most grateful if, as a matter of urgency, you would take a much firmer grip on this problem.” He took his own advice two months later.
Field didn’t practice what he had preached
Field’s behaviour yesterday conflicted with opinions he expressed earlier this year.
In May in a debate in parliament on Women Human Rights Defenders Field said
“Human rights defenders often operate in the most difficult environments, and by exposing issues that the powerful would prefer to keep hidden, their work puts them in constant danger. They or their families could face discrimination, violence or, at the very worst, death. That is what happened to Berta Cáceres, who bravely stood up for the rights of an indigenous group in Honduras against a proposed hydroelectric dam project. She paid for that with her life, and it has taken five years for those responsible to be held to account. Tragically, Berta’s murder is by no means unique, and many others have been killed for standing up to those in power. Many others face similar threats.”
He remembered to promote his contribution to the debate with a self-aggrandising tweet: “The UK [government] remains committed to helping women all over the world to feel safe and protected in the work they do, so they can speak freely and be part of the change we all want. [Read] my remarks at the Westminster Hall Debate on Women Human Rights Defenders.”
In June Field attended a conference with the tag line Global peace and stability depend on climate security whereat he declared “climate security must be at the heart of foreign policy work at a global level.”
So, Field supported women who stood strong for what they believed in except if they were physically too close to him and he supported tackling climate security but objected to anyone protesting about it.
Field loves The City Of London
Field is opposed to any restriction of the financial business of the City of London. In love bankers he presented an absurd misrepresentation of the role of banks and financial institutions, of their intent and of their usefulness to society. He described them as necessities – “our open commercial climate, so carefully nurtured over centuries, is an asset we can ill afford to lose” – rather than as their true role of parasites.
Via some creative figures he claimed that loss of the finance industry in the UK would be disastrous – “banker bashing and public hostility to wealth creation is doing lasting damage to the UK’s economy” – but neglected to mention that the reason so many members of that industry are based in Britain is because they can easily dodge tax. But, many “city professionals engage in philanthropy, to the enormous and lasting benefit of London’s galleries and museums and charities.”
In no regulation Field warned that any regulation, particularly if imposed by Financial Conduct Authority, would be unwelcome: “Most of our competitors [other countries] are desperate to break into the developing markets of the East, where the increased wealth of the middle classes will ensure the rapid expansion of their financial sectors for decades to come. This nation already has a competitive advantage in such areas, so should we be hobbling it?” He wanted complete freedom for the finance industry to gamble and play games with lives and livelihoods.
Field’s attitude toward the business of the City Of London and his dishonest appraisal of its role and intent revealed someone who is willing to provide any excuse for wrongdoing and criminality and who lies with casual impunity. It showed a personality bereft of social empathy, without any concept of community and purposefully restricted in intellect. That is who Field is. His behaviour yesterday would not have surprised anyone who knew him.