Twitter is a professional hazard for any ambitious person. And the latest tweeter to make a twat of himself is Howard Beckett, a candidate to lead the union Unite and member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
This week saw outrage in Glasgow over the attempted detention of two Indian nationals over suspected immigration offences. Amid the fury, Beckett criticised the home secretary Priti Patel, setter of immigration policy.
“Priti Patel should be deported, not refugees,” Beckett wrote. “She can go along with anyone else who supports institutional racism. She is disgusting.”
Following these later-deleted remarks, Labour suspended Beckett from the party. Summing up one view, lefty hack Owen Jones said, “You should never call for a person of colour to be deported, whoever they are!”
But why not? While fellow Unite and NEC member Gurinder Singh Josan called Beckett’s tweet “simply dog-whistle racism against a woman of colour”, given what Beckett was protesting against it is unlikely he is racist. A better explanation is that his hatred for Patel is political.
Perhaps Beckett’s intemperate remarks make him a poor choice to lead Unite or to sit on Labour’s NEC. But he is entitled to call for ironic justice against a government minister without flimsy accusations of bigotry.