Never out of the news for long, and as so often nowadays for all the wrong reasons, Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk has opened mouth and inserted boot in no style at all by going after some of the most vulnerable in society, an act which may not necessarily endear him to the party which he is so desperate to rejoin.
Spanker Si has noticed that there is a significant number of homeless people in Rochdale - just as there is in every significantly sized town or city across the UK. Several of these people can be seen in Rochdale town centre, where they solicit whatever kindness they can from members of the public. One might have thought that a Labour politician would instantly sympathise with the plight of such people. But not Danczuk.
Rochdale’s MP had been out and about among his flock on Tuesday last week, and encountering four homeless people in a small area of Rochdale town centre spurred him into sounding off on Twitter: “Begging - counted 4 beggars between Rochdale Exchange & Wheatsheaf entrances last Tuesday. Should at very least be moved on”. Did he ask whether they were homeless? Did he attempt to get them into a shelter for the night?
But you know the answer to that. Danczuk’s first port of call was not to ask his pals at the Council what they were doing about tackling homelessness, nor to liaise with voluntary organisations to see what they could do, but to shoot his gob off in Parliament: “Just raised in Parliament that the police are losing control of #Rochdale town centre. Failing to address begging, shop lifting, ASB, etc”. He’s all heart.
By now, a welter of adverse comment had built up, and one Twitter user challenged The Great Man on his attitude. Sad to say, the tin ear was all that came back: “@janedonuts2 @sixhitter I help dozens of people with their housing problems at my surgery. Begging needs a police intervention”. People who are homeless don’t just have a problem holding on to their home. They don’t have one in the first place.
Even the Manchester Evening News, which has been sympathetic to Danczuk in the past, ran a piece titled “MP Simon Danczuk branded 'heartless' over tweet about 'beggars' in Rochdale”. What is telling about the article is that the Police statement given to the MEN did not voice any support for Danczuk’s actions, which may be not unconnected to the MP’s attack on Greater Manchester Police last October.
Spanker Si’s rant did not go down well with the force, who dismissed his ranting as “a Manchester MP launching an ill-informed attack upon police officers in an attempt to raise their own media profile”. Meanwhile, as Rochdale Online has reported, one healthcare worker has arranged 200 “goody bags” for local homeless people. While the town’s MP has been demonising those same people for a bit of cheap publicity.
Labour’s decision on whether to permanently expel Simon Danczuk cannot come soon enough. It might just have been brought closer after his comments last week.