Tweet Checking: A Celebration of Hatgate - the Stupidest “Gate” Ever

Having avoided a “Scary Skripal Special” last week, at the suggestion of Justin Greves on Twitter, I’ve ended up doing a “Hatgate special” for this week.

Mass social media hysteria has not played out over such a lengthy period of days since… well, the previous week. But there seems to be something about this particular scandalous non-scandal that highlights a deep divide, firstly on the Left, and then across British politics as a whole, between those who are desperate to deal with the substance of issues, and those obsessed with the “imagery” of political discourse to a paranoid level.

It is not just that the Corbynites were wrong in asserting that the BBC doctored an image of Corbyn, it’s that such an assertion reached a level that mimicked a fanatic’s understanding of theological truth. Such a diehard set of actions will eventually cause an equal and opposite reaction, and I admit I have used the word “moron” far too often that I would’ve liked in the past week—but I will admit I’m not sorry.

A graphic provided to me by a Mr Jason “Gorgonzola” Hurley of Facebook (I am uncertain of its true origins) shows clearly that no editing occurred:



However, let’s take a look at some of the more curious proponents of the “hatspiracy”…

5. Dave Burns



The BBC New Press Team were clearly talking about the hat being altered, not the contrast being changed. This is not an admission of guilt. Here’s Jess Brammar’s full thread.

4. Andrew Pierce



I’ve included this from “Tory Boy Pierce” because misrepresenting an incorrect claim can be just as bad as the claim itself. No Corbynite to my knowledge has ever said that Corbyn never wore the hat, but that it had been altered to “look more Russian” (whatever that means).


3. Jen Wood


Urm, a TV licence is not like a regular subscription you can cancel at any time; it’s the indisputable case that “if you watch or record live TV on any device, you need to be covered by a TV Licence.” Not watching BBC channels or using IPlayer does not excuse you from paying. You have to disable your aerial and your Freeview capabilities in order to use a TV in your home for something other than receiving live broadcasts.

Please people, don’t start not paying your licence fees because you didn’t like the way a hat looked on a background screen…you can serve serious time for it. You also don’t want to go to gaol when in all probability Jen Wood is still paying her annual £147. Getting screwed because of Twitter bluster will not look good in a biopic of your life.

2. Tom Pride


What is most curious about this one is the line “suspects who have been paying money to the UK government”. There are no suspects in this case as of yet, at least none the government or security services have revealed to the public. We are fairly certain—as is surprisingly John McDonnell—who authorised it. But the actor-agents who actually undertook it are as of yet unclear.

Pride, are you trying to say you have some evidence that you would like to enlighten us with?

Of course, Pride is trying to suggest that the Russian oligarchs who have donated to various Tory figures are the ones responsible for the Skripal attack—no evidence of course exists that this is the case. And even if the same oligarchs were responsible—why they would threaten their wealth and position in a country that has been so good to them is impossible to fathom—that would ultimately still mean very little in the big picture, as Connor P writes: “Corbyn’s sudden interest in Russian oligarchs who stash their ill-gotten gains in London property is equally misleading: this is a good cause to raise at any time in Parliament except now, because whatever else they are guilty of (and that is a long list), “the oligarchs” are not responsible for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal — and if any are, then they are accessories to Putin and his inner circle.”

There’s also one more thing: Corbynites brought up the hat in the first place, and now I’ve noticed they’re trying to blame the media and Corbyn’s critics—those attempting to counter the accusations—for talking about the controversy as though they started it. It’s a bit like a naughty child who attempts to deny a misdeed before he has even been accused of it.

1.Owen Jones



First off the bat, how disingenuous and passive-aggressive is it to start off a tweet which attempts to implicate someone in a vast conspiracy and undermine their public image of integrity by saying “lots of respect for you” when you clearly don’t mean it? No wonder Brammar didn’t respond.

Secondly, Jones, who tried to accuse Evan Davis on air of a conspiracy to alter a hat—on the very same show—has now, given that the alteration of that hat has been conclusively debunked has now radically changed his standard and position to one that criticises Newsnight for using a certain image of Corbyn in a certain hat. Urm, I’d like to remind him that Corbyn loves that hat. The most popular public conception of him is in that hat. He appears in posters and badgesfor sale now in that hat. His supporters show their allegiance to him by wearing that hat. When this period of political history is taught in A Level Government and Politics classes decades from now, the image of Corbyn on the teacher’s slide show will be of him in that hat. (And guess who is the face of that particular hat on its Wikipedia page?)

That the hat is “Leninesque” is just Jones admitting that really, the hat Corbyn is wearing admits more than he likes about Corbyn’s real political background and associations—an ever-present embarrassment to those who insist he is but a “mainstream social democrat”.

As for the background, no matter how many times you ignore it, is still the exact same background used with Gavin Williamson several weeks earlier—that the colour was altered and Corbyn moved around just shows an aesthetic choice.

Seriously, Corbynites dare accuse critics of “McCarthyism”—essentially, seeing a threat where there isn’t one—for criticising Corbyn’s response to the Skripal attack, while they push a conspiracy theory rooted in baseless Beebophobia and their inability to understand the physics of vision.



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