38 Degrees Refuse to Release Evidence of “Sexist Abuse” of Laura Kuenssberg 197

This is the transcript of my conversation with the 38 Degrees Press Spokesman today about the scrapping of the Laura Kuenssberg petition, for which 38 Degrees were praised by David Cameron in the Commons today.

Hello Craig

Hello Adam. I hope you are not quite so busy today? Has it calmed down for you?

It is a bit less busy. Well we are very busy on other important things. Did you see the article by David Babbs in the Guardian today?

I did, but it doesn’t really answer my question. I haven’t received the evidence of the abuse connected to the petition which you said you would consider sending me. Are you going to send it?

I don’t really have the time for this

But you must have this evidence. You took a well-supported petition down. You must have the evidence you based your decision on.

There were abusive tweets and comments

Can you send them to me?

You can search for them yourself online

I have done so. But you must have the evidence?

Look yourself online

This is a big story. In all the national press. You must have kept the evidence on the basis of which you made the decision?

You said yourself you had seen misogynistic comments

I said I could find a single one – very unpleasant but only one – out of hundreds of comments I read

So you did see misogynistic comments


Search yourself online. There were tweets.

So far I have been able to find one. That is one comment and one tweet. Have you seen more?

There were misogynistic comments and tweets

More than two? Out of thirty five thousand signatories? How many have you seen?

There was misogynistic abuse

How many have you seen. You personally Adam. You said yesterday you had seen the evidence. Have you, personally, seen more than two?

If you are going to start shouting at me

More than two? Simple question, yes or no?

I don’t expect you to be impolite and abusive towards me.

How much evidence did you see?

We had seen sufficient evidence.

Is that more than two? Is that more than two? That’s a very simple question.

We had seen sufficient evidence.

Have you seen more than two things? Have you seen more than two things? That’s a very simple question. I am recording you. Is that more than two things?

You can record if you like. We had sufficient evidence.

Is that evidence more than one tweet and one comment?

I could…I have got to go I have things to do here

Do you have more than one tweet and one comment?

Hangs up.

I do not claim the 38 Degrees do not have any evidence to show to “justify” removing this petition. But if they do, I find their attitude absolutely astonishing. It seems to me most probable they did so under establishment pressure with no serious consideration of evidence, and zero concern for the 35,000 people – about half of them female – they have now stigmatised as misogynists.

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197 thoughts on “38 Degrees Refuse to Release Evidence of “Sexist Abuse” of Laura Kuenssberg

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  • Vronsky

    I signed the petition, but I have worries about 38 degrees. I usually avoid and ignore them. As my old Irish mother used to say ‘Too sweet to be wholesome’.

      • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

        Your technique reminds me a little of Jeremy and Michael Howard 🙂

        The conclusion to be drawn is the same as could have been (was) drawn then.

  • Lesley Willis

    If this is how they are going to behave, I will use other sites for petitions. This is so undemocratic.If they have been “nudged” surely, they should have published and be damned?

  • East Neuker

    It’s interesting that a number of people cite “journalistic freedom” in defence of extreme bias on a publicly funded broadcaster.
    In such a setting, freedom must be balanced by responsibility. It also should not be peddling downright factual lies, not just opinions, as Kuenssberg does.
    38 degrees have caved in to pressure, or were always under establishment oversight. I will have nothing more to do with them.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

      East, it reminds me of the Rightwing MSM’s excuse for still giving the oxygen of publicity to the lunatics of the anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialist death-cult. Why, we must be ‘even-handed’, they simper, with loathsome hypocrisy. Of course, on any other subject, say the evil of Putin, the menace of China, the Iranian ‘threat’, the sanctity of the ‘opposition’ to Assad and his fiendish ‘barrel-bombs etc, their bias and partisanship is total, with near unanimous Groupthink and Newspeak, but in regard to the greatest threat to humanity, ever, they must be ‘unbiased’ between science, rationality, truth and human survival on the one hand, and the fossil fuel trillions and Rightwing ideological fanaticism on the other. And, in fact, in the Murdoch apparatus, the bias and partisanship is still there, towards the denialist omnicidists. The inmates of the Western MSM bedlam have long been, in my opinion, among the most loathsome specimens of the genus Homo extant.

  • Elsa

    Craig, wouldn’t you make a wonderful leader of the opposition with your firm but fair questioning tactics?

    • MJ

      The Leader of the Opposition has a very limited number of questions each week. You can’t keep asking the same question. You have to pose your question, listen to the PM’s response then move on.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Christ. Put it in the Dummies’ Guide To Evasion of the Point. Someone’s told him to shut up. Who?

    • Ba'al Zevul

      To answer my own question – how about m’learned friends, acting for Ms. K? Along the lines of ‘our client has had her nose grievously put out of joint by comments on the social media which we will assert in defiance of all logic were maliciously intended by you to be made in response to your horrible horrible poll. Unless you remove said horrible horrible poll we are instructed to pursue an action for damages amounting to £ (our telephone number, not forgetting the +44).

      And your man was klutz enough to fold.

  • BannerQueen

    Well this enough to put me off 38degrees forever … Sounds like they’ve been “nobbled” …..

    • Phil the ex frog

      I know. I simply can’t imagine what made this corporation support the corporate state agenda. I am so sad I want to make one more soul destroying futile gesture before I give up entirely.

  • Julian

    This is OT but I thought you’d like to know:

    You can search the ICIJ Panama Papers database for names and companies yourself now:


    This is a distinct improvement, although its not the full documents, it seems.

  • nevermind

    38 deg. have shot themselves in the foot by being pressurised into this action, they will have to justify their existence now.
    come to think of it, who could/would be the possible culprit?
    MP’s? not much likely as this would put attention on their conduct with regards to 38deg.
    The BBC? what possibly could they do/know that would persuade 388 deg.to make such a bad mistake.
    Or was 38deg. always a front? for collecting the data of active thinkers and supporters of causes?
    Did the security services pull out a few skeletons and showed them around the 38deg. office?
    Who could possibly throw all cautions to the wind with regards to the outfall on this story, and rescue Laura Toryspinberg from an embarrassing episode?

    • Vronsky

      ” was 38deg. always a front?”

      That’s my belief. Always read defensively.

    • Phil the ex frog

      Always a front? Why are you surprised a corporation pursues the corporate state agenda exactly say like every other corporation. Surely the forces that shape corporate news shape these petition companies. I bet if some one can be arsed to look the top staff and board will be of exactly the same demograpohic. Lawyers, journos, PR etc.

      I can’t imagine the state is in fear of people who dare sign a petition. More likely these futile exercises are encouraged/tolerated because they teach those who sign that there is no point in opposing the satate.

  • DougLM

    I’ve unsubscribed from 38 degrees and in the box soliciting comments made the point that they have with this decision harmed many of the people and ideas they supposedly exist to champion. At the same time they set a dangerous precedent for right wing establishment types who can howl ‘bigot’ at any opinion they don’t like to shut it down. Well done on making them squirm Craig, clearly Adam is very uncomfortable defending the decision, and so he should be. I hope that others follow suit and abandon them as they now have zero credibility in my eyes. Cameron now jumping on the bandwagon today in PMQ’s to stand up for Nick ‘chief stenographer’ Robinsons replacement made me want to weep with despair. There is more inherent misogyny and bigotry in the Tories than anywhere else but we’re not allowed to point that out.

  • lysias

    There is no doubt the odd screwball out there who is capable of making sexist comments, but one does wonder if this one comment and one tweet were stitched up.

  • Petraco

    Dear 38 Degrees,

    I was most unhappy at your decision to withdraw the petition calling for the sacking of Laura Kuenssberg.

    Laura Kuenssberg is indeed an establishment propagandist who selects and shapes her reporting to discredit Corbyn and his supporters. But while I personally do not feel that her sacking would be an appropriate response, the petition to demand her removal was perfectly in order. The fact that some people misused the petition to make sexist comments is a separate matter, and has nothing to do with the intention of the vast majority of signatories.

    It is most disappointing that 38 degrees capitulated to The Guardian and others who dishonestly sought to defend Kuenssberg’s biased reporting by framing the perfectly legitimate criticism of her professional work as part of campaign of sexist abuse.

    Yours sincerely,

  • philw

    Excellent work Craig.

    I have unsubscribed from 38 degrees and I hope everyone else will. I would think they are pretty much finished – they have no credibility any more.

    Would be interesting to know the role of the BBC legal department. Is it subject to FoI requests?

  • Lisa Muggeridge

    You can just type her name in a twitter search box on anyu given day. I am no fan of the reporter named here, but that doesn’t make the relentlessness misogynist onslaught she faces on twitter ok. Am sorry hte online left who arent representative of anyone but themselves need to get to grips with their misogyny. Its disenfranchising those of us who need to discuss austerity and its very gendered impact and its really disgusting to watch.

    • Dave Price

      >> I am no fan of the reporter named here, but that doesn’t make the relentlessness misogynist onslaught she faces on twitter ok.
      If she is facing misogynist abuse online, that is totally unacceptable. Nobody is claiming that the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg’s evident bias against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is justification for such attacks.

      >> Am sorry hte online left who arent representative of anyone but themselves need to get to grips with their misogyny.
      There are some nasty bigots and misogynists out there. I can think of no reason why their bigotry and misogynism has anything whatsoever to do with left wing politics.

      >> Its disenfranchising those of us who need to discuss austerity and its very gendered impact and its really disgusting to watch.
      The ‘austerity’ dogma has a disproportionate effect on low-paid part-time workers in precarious employment, who are primarily female, but also on the disabled and the young. We should fight together against this obscene doctrine. Remember that Laura Kuenssberg is not a low-paid worker in precarious employment, and she is biased against Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity party.

    • dunwich

      relentlessness misogynist onslaught

      The trouble is there wasn’t one. The Guardian might lead you to think there was, but there wasn’t – as Craig’s telephone call rather demonstrates, and as any look at Twitter would show. It’s very hard to find anything at all. It took me sometime to find a “silly cow”, but this was matched by a “bellend” from a Kuenssberg supporter.

      This doesn’t look like a misogynist onslaught to me.

      • Herbie


        Looks very much like a managed event.

        If you look at the background of the board members you’ll see the same old corporate connections that infest all these NGOs pretending to be grassroot organizations.

        Proctor and Gamble
        Common Purpose
        BBC ( I kid you not )
        Avaaz again
        A large commercial law firm.

        It’s controlled opposition.

    • nevermind

      Lisa, those who go on twitter have only themselves to blame. When one looks at the importance attached to this ‘chat line’, not just in the House, its insidiously spread throughout the media, in effect a rumour-mill.
      Those who use the BBC to publicise their own distaste for one or other party, you only have to look at her contorted face when she speaks about Corbyn, it speaks volumes, then compare it to her discourse with any conservative minister, all sweet and light.
      she is a bad example to any jounalist who wants to report the truth, a corporate hack of the worst kind.

    • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)

      Are you Leonard’s daughter by any chance, Lisa?

  • Tom Friedland

    38 degrees seems to have done a 180 degree turn and arrived up its own a**hole.

  • bevin

    Circling the wagons. The Establishment knows that it is in trouble and black mould is already beginning to break through the white wash on the impending Chilcott report. The TTIP won’t fly. The EU is crumbling away. NATO is looking increasingly desperate for a fight- but not against an armed adveersary. The proxy jihadists, no longer advancing unimpeded towards the ambushes planned by the CIA, are on the verge of turning back to the fleshpots-now there is loot worth having!- where their paymasters live. The reserve currency is going to turn into waste paper. The National Front is close to victory in France. Syriza, the last best hope of haute finance, is breaking apart. Germany is waking up, very angry and suddenly remembering its power. And the tipping point is very near in Britain. There is an election in Spain, again. The new (old) Irish government, amazingly, claims to be intent on solving the inequality problem. The oil sands are burning.
    No wonder they are shouting and letting fly at anything that moves in the jungle, shadows and spectres mainly. They still have mortgages and loans to pay back. And, mainly, they have plans which do not include plebs, unless they are very nice looking and obedient.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      -WB Yeats.

  • Noonereally

    I have signed many of their petitions but this will be the last…I actually tweeted that the comments were more in line with my own views than anything I had seen – it was all people livid about the relentless Corbyn-bashing, Kuenssberg’s name didn’t even come up. In retrospect, that could be a stick to beat me with but the bias is so blatant now that I for one am past caring, and I do not think I am alone.

  • David R

    I have unsubscibed from 38 degrees. I thought your interrogation excellent. I don’t know if you were actually shouting, but you certainly were not abusive! I’m afraid Adam sounds a bit wet to me!

  • Peter Allen

    Thank you very much for highlighting this issue Craig. I have emailed 38 Degrees pointing out that they should publish the evidence they claim to have or reinstate the petition. I don’t expect to get an answer, and if not, I will certainly unsubscribe as they have zero credibility. However, this is just one example of the wider attempt to shut down free speech by spurious claims of sexism. The OffGuardian website has discussed the Guardian’s `web we want’ campaign, which doesn’t appear to include any disagreements with whatever they choose to say. Any such disagreements will be blocked as supposedly `abusive’ whether they are or not. Free speech is very much under attack and `sexism’ is the current favourite excuse. We can expect to see a lot more of this crap in future.

    • Petraco

      Exactly, and there is a parallel with the the establishment branding critics of Israeli policy as antisemites. If the establishment figure being criticised is female the content of the criticism is ignored by the media, and the criticism is dishonestly portrayed as evidence of sexism. If the policies of Israel are criticised, the substance is likewise ignored and the mere existence of criticism is presented as evidence of antisemitism.

      • Peter Allen

        You’re absolutely right. It’s not in the slightest bit subtle but the reinforcement by all the mainstream media and their `journalists’ makes it difficult to deal with, just as they intend. We need more outlets like Craig’s to counter the shower of shit we have to put up with every day.

  • bevin

    Society is full of misogynists. And racists. And snobs, of the most poisonous kind. And of every sort of obnoxiously inclined person.
    And as long as they just think about it, or write about it we have to put up with it.
    Because the alternative, ceding the state or its agents the power to control discourse, is a guarantee of impending dystopia.
    That is the point. Free Speech can be ugly, because it takes time for society to exert control over nasty words, by shaming those responsible into reconsideration (as well as often enough, causing society to re-evaluate its standards.)
    It was not long ago that sexual behaviours were carefully monitored and sanctioned by the state. When half the words in use could not be published.
    The attribution of misogyny or anti-semitism to the “left” where both are least likely to be discovered is either a sign of malice or lightmindedness.

  • Karen Walker

    I shall be ubsubscribing from them and will no longer be signing their petitions. This is very disappointing.

  • Jiusito

    The establishment finds 38 Degrees at best irritating and at worst challenging. Now, I suspect, it has found a perfect way to neutralise them. Apparently, all you have to do is get one hired troll to post some abuse – a single tweet may be enough! – and 38 Degrees will cave in and abort the petition. Not only does this get rid of the immediate embarrassment of the petition, it further discredits dissent.

    The meme that the right has created, that “the hard left” – i.e. anyone who doesn’t like Tory policies – is full of people who hate Jews, hate women and God knows what else – is proving to have all sorts of uses.

    We just have to stand up to it. Anyone who has read the comments under just about anything posted by the Torygraph or the Hate knows which side of the political spectrum is really poisonous.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    About 8 years ago, before she went to University, my daughter volunteered as an extra to appear on several Channel 4 and BBC TV shows, Some of them were music based, some drama/documentary. She was about 17 at the time. She was invited to the parties afterwards – and had a good time – was well looked after, and she never gave any hint of there being anything whatsoever untoward. She initially applied to both Channel 4 and the BBC via email – and was subsequently invited.

    The only thing she would say – was that – everything The BBC did was totally OTT – no expense spared …like they would build an entire set – just for one show using loads of staff – whilst Channel 4 would do everything on the cheap – and simply take over a real location – like a pub or whatever for the recording – using the minimum of people. She was never paid, nor expected to be paid. She just did it for the experience – and to get on the Telly.

    I very rarely watched TV – even then…but I did record some of the shows she was on. This all stopped when she went to university away from London.

    I also reckon, though I didn’t ask him, if it was him who leaked that infamous 20 minutes before it happened video (about another banned subject) “look its behind you”. A mate who still works for the BBC asked him to come along to one of our parties in our house. He had the perfect BBC job title, and access – and he was a nice bloke too.

    Incidentally, that subject is banned too. I simply will not discuss it, unless specifically asked, and then I usually wished I hadn’t replied. Most people simply cannot take it. The implications are indeed horrendous – so I keep my mouth shut, or I would lose most of my friends.

    That’s just the way it is.

    But I am not going to deny the Truth if asked. I have had to put up with this alone since February 2003.

    Your turn now.

    The problem is not going to go away until it is confronted. Everything will just get progressively worse as it has since 2001.


  • KingofWelshNoir

    Can’t help feeling people are throwing the entire maternity ward out with the bathwater here. It’s certainly not good what has happened, but it’s not clear what really did happen. I’d like to know. But I won’t be cancelling my subscription or vowing never to sign another of their petitions again. I’m pretty sure they are what it says on the tin. They are not slick or polished, and they don’t always get it right. There is a slight amateurishness about them which is fine as far as I’m concerned. They have done some good work and rather than instantly turning on them for one screw-up my instinct is to cut them some slack. I think they’ve earned it.

    • Spaull

      Hmm. They might have done if they had admitted they made a mistake in taking this petition down and restored it. By doubling down and defending their decision, they have reinforced the branding of their own petitioners as abusive. Not only that, they have done so in the Guardian, in a page given to them for the purpose. If they had just stayed quiet, I might just have been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but having dropped their credibility down the toilet, instead of trying to retrieve it, they flushed it away.

  • glenn

    Great stuff. So if there’s a petition you don’t like, just invent a sock puppet to put down an abusive comment, then scream “foul!” and demand the petition be withdrawn. Craven behaviour by 38-degrees, of which I am a member and active participant.

    ‘Strewth, isn’t there any organisation with integrity, and a backbone, in which one can have some trust anymore?

  • Alan

    Hi Craig,

    Don’t know if it’ll help much but I’ve unsubscribed from 38Degrees’ emails, citing their “Censorship of the Laura Kuenssberg petition”.

    Incidentally, the last email they sent me was about saving CBeebies. Heh. Make of that what you will.

    • RP

      I also unsubscribed from the 38degrees mailing list and told them how absurd I thought their position was.

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