“Operation Red Meat”: who is “In bed with the reds”?

Is it the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Or the BBC?

Or could it be the Conservative Party?

[“Reds under the Bed” was the phrase commonly used by the right wing to question, during the cold war, the allegiance of those on the left or even the centre. It became a knee jerk reaction to alternative views which Boris would have learned to deploy at Oxford].

As Boris Johnson launches one of his classic “special diversionary operations” attacking the Archbishop’s and the BBC’s allegiance, Owl lists some of the articles published on East Devon Watch questioning the wisdom of the relationship the Tories have enjoyed with wealthy Russians.

Boris Johnson ignores Labour call to apologise to Archbishop

BBC News www.bbc.co.uk

Boris Johnson has ignored a Labour call to apologise to the Archbishop of Canterbury over comments the PM made to a private meeting of Tory MPs.

Mr Johnson reportedly told his MPs that senior clergy had been “less vociferous” in their condemnation of Vladimir Putin than of plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Sir Keir Starmer demanded an apology at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The PM said the Rwanda policy was an attempt to save lives in the Channel.

In his Easter Sunday sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the policy of sending some asylum seekers who arrive in the UK illegally to Rwanda cannot “stand the judgment of God”.

Mr Johnson accused “senior members of the clergy” and the BBC of misconstruing the policy in a speech to Tory MPs on Tuesday evening.

The PM was attempting to rally support from his MPs after his Commons apology over being fined by the police for breaking Covid laws.

He suggested, in an aside, that the clergy had been less vociferous in condemning Vladimir Putin, according to No 10 sources.

Mr Welby and the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said in a statement issued by Lambeth Palace that they would continue to to oppose the policy on “moral and ethical grounds”.

The two senior clergymen had denounced the invasion of Ukraine as “an act of great evil” and had called for Russian troops to withdraw, the statement added.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of not being sincere in his apology for breaking Covid rules.

As soon as he was off camera, the PM had gone back to “blaming everyone else” he said, adding: “Would the prime minister like to take this opportunity to apologise for slandering the Archbishop and the Church of England?”

Mr Johnson said he was surprised to be attacked over a policy that had been devised to “end the deaths at sea in the Channel as a result of cruel criminal gangs” and had, he claimed, been first devised in 2004 by [then Labour home secretary] David Blunkett.

The pair then clashed over reports that Mr Johnson had criticised the BBC’s coverage of the war in Ukraine in his speech to MPs.

Sir Keir accused the PM of opting to “slander decent people” in private but lacking the “backbone to repeat it in public”.

“Would the prime minister have the guts to say that to the face of (BBC reporters) Clive Myrie, Lyse Doucet and Steve Rosenberg, who have all risked their lives day in, day out on the frontline in Russia and Ukraine uncovering Putin’s barbarism?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I said nothing of the kind and I have the highest admiration as a former journalist for what journalists do. I think they do an outstanding job. I think he should withdraw what he just said – it has absolutely no basis or foundation in truth.”

It must be confusing being a Conservative MP at times

From Guardian PMQs Live: It must be confusing being a Conservative MP at times. Are you supposed to hate the BBC or not? Earlier this year, on day one of what was dubbed “Operation Red Meat”, the No 10 operation to shore up Boris Johnson’s position with a rightwing policy offer for Tory MPs, Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, said the BBC licence fee was definitely going. A day later she had to soften her position somewhat, after the Treasury insisted the future of the licence fee was just being reviewed. This morning Tory MPs will have read in the Daily Telegraph that Johnson believes the BBC has been soft on Vladimir Putin. At PMQs Johnson insisted that was wrong, and at the end of the session a loyalist backbencher used a point of order to insist that Conservative MPs are in fact great fans of the corporation. 

Here are just a selection of interesting EDW posts on Tories and their Russian connections

“Who now is in bed with the Reds?”

“Swelling the Tory coffers, Russian connections and cosy dinner access”

“ 200 Russian millionaires bought way into UK in seven years since clampdown”

“Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has received cash from 9 Russian donors named in a suppressed intelligence report”

“Swire his other jobs the controversial Lord and the Russian Oligarch”