Lee Anderson, a 56-year-old former coal miner who this week was appointed as deputy chair of the governing Conservative party, has faced a mainstream media backlash for his long-standing support of capital punishment for the worst offenders. However, the view of the Ashfield MP is supported by the majority of Brits according to the most recent polling on the matter.
Anderson was dubbed the “worst man in Britain” by left-wing newspaper The Mirror back in 2021, and left-wing activists have derisively referred to him as “30p Lee” after the Conservative MP claimed back in May 2022 that he could make a meal from scratch for just 30 pence when questioning some people’s use of food banks.
The MP’s appointment to deputy chair of the party earlier this week was met with scathing criticism among Britain’s left-wing commentariat.
“What was Sunak thinking when he elevated this proven Neanderthal?” tweeted broadcaster Jemma Strong, while Pippa Crear, the Guardian newspaper’s political editor, called him “the Red Wall rottweiler.”
“It sort of snakes around the place… You’re going to have to wipe down the floor and the walls afterwards,” left-wing broadcaster James O’Brien said of Anderson on Wednesday, describing him as an out-of-control shower head that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will now find difficult to control.
Anderson has long been outspoken on several sensitive topics. He boycotted the English national team last year for its decision to take the knee before matches, and has criticized nurses who say they must rely on food banks because they don’t earn enough. However, one small matter the left-wing media establishment finds it difficult to accept when berating the conservative politician is that his views are often in alignment with the silent majority across the country.
Mainstream media outlets including the BBC, Britain’s public broadcaster, now frequently describe Anderson as “controversial,” yet allies warn this attempt to discredit the politician is ill-judged.
“Interesting that BBC News and others describe Lee Anderson as “controversial.” His views are not controversial to the huge numbers of ordinary people who think similarly. Media will exacerbate public distrust amongst such audiences if they persist in this labeling,” tweeted Baroness Stowell of Beeston, a Conservative peer.
She’s right. It’s a fact that the mainstream media will simply continue to further alienate those already disillusioned with its perceived left-wing bias by sowing the seed that someone such as Lee Anderson, a blue-collar worker from the north of England who previously served as a Labour councilor before defecting to the Tories, is somehow dangerous or unsavory for holding certain views.
The latest media outrage is based on his historic support for the death penalty in Britain, which he says should be reserved for the worst offenders.
“Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed,” Anderson has previously said tongue-in-cheek, no doubt aware such a brazen remark will rile up his political and media opponents.
Speaking on Thursday, Anderson qualified his view on the issue, telling Talk Radio, “I’ve said it in the past. I said it before I got into parliament. Obviously, it’s not government policy. It never will be. I was asked a question, and I answered it.”
He explained how in certain circumstances “it’s difficult to argue against,” using the abhorrent public murder of Lee Rigby, a fusilier in the British army who was gruesomely attacked on the streets of London by two Islamist extremists in May 2013, as a prime example.
“Murders like that where the proof is there, there’s hundreds of witnesses. It’s very difficult to argue against the death penalty in cases like that. I pretty much stick to that view,” Anderson said.
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was quick on Thursday to distance himself from Anderson’s views, insisting they were not government policy.
In the opinion of the mainstream media, such views warrant Anderson to be described as “controversial,” despite a YouGov poll from Jan. 9, 2023, revealing that 53 percent of Brits would be in favor of the death penalty being reintroduced for the most abhorrent crimes.
In fact, more Brits than not believe capital punishment should be reserved as a sentence for those convicted of murdering a child, multiple murders, terrorist murder acts, or murdering a police officer. The percentage of those who firmly oppose capital punishment for the aforementioned crimes didn’t surpass 36 percent in the latest polling.
Left-wing media activists like James O’Brien may well try to discredit Anderson by calling him “thick as mince,” but the more scorn they pour over those in the spotlight unafraid of speaking out in favor of views deemed unpalatable by the self-proclaimed intelligentsia, the more popular individuals like Lee Anderson will become.