Yesterday, a Conservative MP’s dinner was rudely interrupted by a woman loudly and threateningly protesting about climate change. Worried about his and his fellow banqueter’s safety, MP Mark Field calmly and proportionally handled the situation and defused any threat the woman may or may not have posed and the dinner resumed in an orderly fashion.
…is how you might have heard the establishment British media, and various commentators online, describe the following situation:
WATCH: Conservative MP Mark Field shoves a protestor against a pillar then grabs her by her neck and shoves her out of the Mansion House dinner after climate change protestors interrupted the banquet. pic.twitter.com/DFwZYxROfF— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) June 20, 2019
What you see there is some Greenpeace activists disrupting a dinner of Conservative MPs on Thursday night, interrupting a speech by Jeremy Hunt—a millionaire MP responsible for dismantling and selling off Britain’s NHS, a man who forgets the ethnicity of his own wife, and Boris Johnson’s, only remaining contender for Tory party leadership (and thus Prime Minister, yay for democracy working a treat).
In the words of one of the protesters:
We were peaceful protestors making a critical point about the state of our country’s response to the most pressing issue of our time. We should not expect to receive such disproportionate physical violence. Full stop. #r4today pic.twitter.com/10EaHuWoVL— Hannah Martin (@Hannah_RM) June 21, 2019
Despite the attempted signal jamming by some, your eyes and ears quite reliably tell you what you see in that clip of the altercation. A stocky man forcefully slamming a peaceful, non-threatening woman into a pillar, before grabbing her by the neck and violently frog-marching her away. There was reportedly applause when Field re-entered the room. Yet if you were to believe some sources, your senses had been deceiving you, because following the uproar about Mark Field’s actions the white male centrist dad brigade were out in full force, rationalising and defending Field because he is, after all, 1) White, 2) A Man, 3) Rich, 4) A Tory, and therefore exists at the perfect nexus of unaccountable power in the UK. Thankfully, Twitter was not having it, providing a much needed counter-weight to that odious nonsense.
From one of The Guardian’s senior journalists:
Not sure about this: Field is seen here being rough, but noisy disruption of big speech by low carbon Minister is also a mild form of violence. Greenpeace likes to have its cake and eat it. Very Boris ! https://t.co/B3bz4dAhvj— MichaelWhite (@michaelwhite) June 21, 2019
From a Tory MP:
Honestly? Try being in our shoes in the current environment.— Johnny Mercer MP (@JohnnyMercerUK) June 21, 2019
He panicked, he’s not trained in restraint and arrest, and if you think this is ‘serious violence’, you may need to recalibrate your sensitivities. Calm down, move on, and be thankful this wasn’t worse. https://t.co/ALMQMDh4Ya
Indeed. Try being a white male Conservative MP. Just think of how terrifying that must be.
Yeah, women should always be grateful after an assault because the man could have been more violent to her.— Frances Ryan (@DrFrancesRyan) June 21, 2019
I'm an A&E doc, also not trained in restraint and arrest, I often encounter people behaving in a way more threatening manner, if I "panicked" & did this I would rightly be struck off and arrested.— Jennifer (@coffeeheadaches) June 21, 2019
You can't possibly believe what you're writing. Your defense of this is pathetic.
“Be thankful this wasn’t worse” is an in believably bad response to a minister in your party assaulting a woman. https://t.co/vcBO3uCaLt— Michael Walker (@michaeljswalker) June 21, 2019
This from another Tory MP:
MP Bob Stewart defends @MarkFieldUK on @BBCWorldatOne "only way you can control someone in these circumstances is possibly by the collar -she wasn't wearing one, that's why his hand was round her neck. If he'd touched her anywhere else he'd have been deemed highly inappropriate"— Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) June 21, 2019
This from the BBC’s chief political editor, in response to a horrified, emotionally charged reaction by a female Labour MP:
Clear Labour will push this tomorrow. 👇🏼 https://t.co/7C6Q2gz6aO— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) June 20, 2019
A lady was assaulted by a Tory Minister. This is a strange response really.— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) June 20, 2019
an MP assaulted a woman on camera, laura. If Labour *need* to push it you're not doing your jobs— wariotifo (@wariotifo) June 20, 2019
You should delete this tweet, apologise to Labour and take some time to reflect. Your framing of a filmed assault on a woman as a political convenience exposes your triviality and bias.— Helen the Zen (@helenmallam) June 21, 2019
Butler responded herself:
Does this mean you are not concerned about his actions?— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) June 21, 2019
If not could you shed some light on the incident please?
Was she aggressive and violent and posed a serious risk?
Was that level of aggression/violence warranted?
Am I wrong to ask for incident to be investigated? https://t.co/avxGxN1gAL
The incident was all over Twitter today.
When someone's defence for assaulting a woman is that it was 'instinctive', the Ministerial Code is fairly low on my list of concerns… https://t.co/i85trg9PFS— Louise Haigh MP (@LouHaigh) June 21, 2019
Today on Well I Guess We're Just Debating Fucking Anything Now; is assaulting women actually fine? https://t.co/oOwrKjKCqY— James Felton (@JimMFelton) June 21, 2019
And yet they sat there and did nothing as the protester was dragged out by her neck https://t.co/ZpEw9omzSY— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) June 21, 2019
no shortage of creepy authoritarians among the ranks of British political journalism, but I have a hard time thinking of any more unsettling than this bloke pic.twitter.com/e1HsSgMDf2— tom (@malaiseforever) June 21, 2019
No shitbags. This isn't the face of man calmly dealing with a potential threat or security risk.— Another Angry Voice (@Angry_Voice) June 21, 2019
It's the face of an entitled half-pissed Tory toff furious at his dinner being interrupted, with total confidence in his physical advantage over someone he sees as no threat at all. pic.twitter.com/18kKEGwL2F
Slammed against a pillar, roughly grabbed by the neck and marched from the building = an intervention to be congratulted says Peter Bottomley! And yet this am Mark Field has apologised 'unreservedly'. Covering all bases?— Gayle Letherby 🌹#GTTO #JC4PM2019 (@gletherby) June 21, 2019
They should both resign + Field should be charged, today. https://t.co/dNqM1BneEN
I wonder what drives this kind of violence. Is it cultural? The kind of music he listens to? A lack of strong male role models in the home?— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) June 21, 2019
I want to hear from the community leaders on this! pic.twitter.com/0yD2dyLaD4
Field has thankfully since been suspended, but the whole episode serves as a stark reminder of the situation we currently face as a society.
We’re facing an extinction crisis so urgent and so deadly that most people probably have not been able to process the reality of it properly. Industrial capitalism and its pathological need for endless growth has brought our planet to the brink. Millions in the global South and frontline communities around the globe are already feeling the effects of the cataclysm to come. Melting ice caps and permafrost. Sea levels rising. The acidification of the oceans. Desertification and soil degradation. Drought. Extreme weather events. Mass extinction events. A looming refugee crisis such that we have never seen before.
But you know, what, it’s actually quite understandable that so people have yet to process this properly. People are working longer hours for less pay, working precarious jobs with diminishing security. It is not always easy to absorb all the information about the world that is out there. Especially not when it is constantly suppressed and warped by the powers-that-be. But some people have noticed, and noticed keenly.
The travesty of the climate crisis, the truly heartbreaking sight of it all, is that it’s children protesting. Whether it is mass school strikes or heroes like Greta Thunberg speaking out, it is those who have barely lived long enough to begin to understand how the world works yet who already understand keenly how it will soon work if things don’t change, their protest cry simply often ‘we deserve a future’.
So the children know. You know who else knows, and always has? The oil and energy companies. Shell and Exxon knew about climate change decades ago. They covered it up, and funded millions into propaganda to counter the mounting evidence of the doom that they would soon bring to our feet. You know who else fucking knew, and still do? Those people in that room with Mark Field. Conservative MPs, forever in the pocket of big oil, big energy, big auto. They are our Republicans. Right-wing Labour MPs are bad too, as are establishment Dems. But the cartoonish villainy on display on the other side of the bench is truly a sight.
Mark Field’s violent outburst against a woman showing solidarity with the children who will have to inherit a ravaged earth shows us everything about how the world works. Hateful, entitled, arrogant, toxic white supremacist patriarchal capitalism bleeds the planet dry, getting rich in the process, and the rest of us are supposed to sit there and accept ashes. And as Field has shown, nothing enrages that power structure more than when an oppressed minority dares to speak up against the fate that otherwise awaits it.
Header Image Source: Getty Images