‘Social Feed’ 2: a satirical commentary on the pig swill served up on MPs’ social media.

From the editor: No doubt Babe will be covering the fallout from Anthony Mangnall’s vote on the Paterson corruption issue. We await with interest to hear what contortions Mangnall was obliged to perform both to justify his shameful stance and the subsequent U-turn. The noxious sewage fumes were as nothing compared with the stench of corruption.

Another week flies by and pig sh*t has really hit the fan on Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall’s social feed. Wallowing in the mudslinging – Social Feed’s correspondent, ‘Babe’.

Oh my – who would have thought that toeing the party line, ignoring constituents’ concerns and giving the impression of not giving a monkey’s would have backfired so badly? This past week, all over the land, Conservative MPs have been grovelling to their constituents in the only way they know – trying to reverse ferret their little pink bottoms and curly tails out from the trough as swiftly as possible, whilst still managing to patronise and gaslight the pants off their disaffected constituents.

Here’s the background: The Lords made a series of amendments to the environment bill, unhappy with the lack of rigour and accountability it contained. These amendments were then debated in the Commons and MPs voted either for or against these. Anthony Mangnall could not attend the debate and vote in person due to a ‘prior engagement’ despite maintaining to constituents that he holds the climate crisis as an absolute priority.

Totnes and South Devon MP Anthony Mangnall’s social media feed pretty much caught fire with close to a hundred largely furious comments responding to his attempt to distance himself from the vote he had already distanced himself from by not attending. Got that? He didn’t turn up to the debate, voted against the measures many of his constituents wished for and then tried to run away from the scene of the crime.

Mangall’s ‘sewage post’ started well:

“As a Conservative Environment Network member and a keen conservationist,” he stated, “I am very much committed to protecting our local environment including our waters.”

But then almost immediately the revisionism began:

“Unfortunately, the reality of the much-publicised Lord’s [sic] Amendment 45 is that, while simple in objective, the outcomes would have passed on huge costs to consumers. While I agree with the ‘polluter pays’ principle, we cannot pass amendments that could place a huge burden on the state and the public without a proper detailed plan or impact assessment in place.”

Concluding with magnificent largesse:

“I fully appreciate the importance of this issue, and will be arranging an open meeting with South West Water to discuss their network and what steps they are taking to clean our rivers, improve the network and protect our coastline.”

Well, that will tell ‘em! Go Mango! Don’t tell them via legislation – that would be a waste of an MP’s time. Instead, have a really effective ‘open meeting’ with them. (‘Meetings’ are the base lexicon of Mr Mangnall’s political vocabulary. ‘Meetings’ form the lion’s share of Mr Mangnall’s busy weeks; he would make a fabulous bureaucrat. Meetings, after all, can last all the way to lunch.)

Having had the red rag of bullsh*t waved in their direction, constituents quickly delivered rapid-fire posts encapsulating ‘enraged’ to ‘stunned’, but sadly less surprised, by their MP and the fact he kindly voted down the Lords’ amendments to the environment bill on their behalf.

Proving a common theme – that he’s usually late to the party, even when reminded it’s actually happening – Mr Mangnall managed to attempt some eggy patronisation of a constituent and freelance writer who had the nerve to remind his MP that he had even prompted him of the important environment bill debate and vote coming up, but that Mr Mangnall had responded vaguely and evasively of ‘a prior engagement’.

Throughout this epic ‘sewage feed’, Mr Mangnall’s responses painted an image of a man coming across as prissy and defensive. This is disconcerting, as his other default mode seems to be to respond with the superficial glib lines familiar with those who speak fluent Tory HQ ‘Arslikhan’. As a result, Mr Mangnall’s varied responses give the air of a wet-behind-the-ears politician trying on different accents, with no authentic voice of his own.

In justification for voting against the Lords’ amendments Mr Mangnall wrote in his social feed:

“…the Enviornment [sic] Bill has multiple stages of debate. I will be speaking when it returns to the House of Commons.” 

Well, thank goodness for that! Although too late to have spoken when he could and should have done in the debate just passed, will Mr Mangnall subsequently be speaking up on behalf of the many voices raised in anger on his social feed, or will he use the opportunity to deliver another of his familiar, ingratiating and self-satisfied speeches that virtue signal without delivering anything of any value? We will find out in due course.

A constituent posted:

“Given that the Climate Change Committee repeatedly points out that the government is failing massively to put practical plans in place which will actually achieve its targets for decades ahead, why should [we] trust your version of the Environment Bill, which merely offers monitoring and publication of information?”

Mr Mangnall’s toothless response was classic:

“…yes and just wait because we will get the changes we need. Bills evolve as they go through parliament and we are making good progress.”

“Bill’s evolve”? Is Mr Mangnall hoping that his ‘hands-off’ approach will allow evolution to play its part in shaping our emergency response to the climate crisis? If so, we are well and truly screwed.

“We are making ‘good progress’” is a classic throwaway comment – based on what evidence? Based on almost a hundred negative comments to his attempt at an apology post whilst reversing swiftly from any culpability?

To be fair, however, Mr Mangnall was actually engaging with his constituents on a Facebook page that has historically largely been devoid of his presence. But it’s a mono-dimensional performance. Like an end-of-the-pier comedian with just one line in gags, Mr Mangnall still insists on maintaining the façade that Brexit has brought nothing but ‘improvement’. It’s like listening to a man with no eyes, no ears and no sense of taste telling us what a great meal we’re all enjoying together.

In the continuing ‘sewage thread’ Mr Mangnall also responded to a constituent:

“…let’s be clear, the bill that we are passing puts more emphasis on water companies to do more. We amended Lords Amd 45 because passing vague legislation that could cost more than covid support package (600bn) is not a sensible idea without better detail.”

So why on earth was Mr Mangnall not demanding that detail in debate on behalf of his constituents in the first place? The image of a man asleep at the wheel springs to mind.

Following the ‘sewage post’ blunder, Mr Mangnall then tried desperately to turn the tide with an unrelated post on booster vaccine issues and a magic moment attempting to appeal to everyone’s good nature over wastage of food:

“Therefore,” he wrote, giving the impression of a wide-eyed believer, “I’m backing the #FoodOnPlates campaign, calling on the UK government to get fresh, nutritious, unsold food onto the plates of those who need it”.

What is it with Mr Mangnall and irony? For a public-school-educated young acolyte he seems blissfully unaware of how his party’s activities on food production and social deprivation are viewed by much of the population.

And indeed, one posted swiftly in response:

“Sooo what about the burning of 160,000 pigs and ploughing in perfectly edible crops? Then importing food from the other side of the world to undercut our own farmers is hardly reducing carbon emissions.”

Another chipped in:

“Oh dear. This is rather desperate. The party of the free market? The party that says food banks are good?”

Mr Mangnall’s social media responses continue to demonstrate a complete misreading of his constituents and their concerns, as well as a blindness to how food banks have become the norm under his party’s failing policies. With such strength of feeling being shown by his constituents it really doesn’t look like Mr Mangnall will be ‘in post’ for long with this river of sewage rising rapidly around his ankles.

In fact, not for the first time, more than one constituent reminded him that he’s likely to be out on his ear very soon.

Still, maybe that’s what you get if you claim to represent a constituency in which peope clearly feel betrayed, disappointed and are wondering what kind of person accidentally got voted in at the last election.

Maybe, in Mr Mangnall’s case, politicians take time to ‘evolve’ into the role. But ‘making good progress’?

Even the blind-eyed optimism of Brexiters might be smarting at that one.

Babe has had to have a lie down to recover, overcome by noxious sewage fumes.