Last night, the outstanding Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon posted an innocuous tweet about an encounter with a couple of his constituents. It was the cue for one of the most nauseating displays of online bullying you’ll see.
And the bullies were ‘Labour’ MPs – though that needs to end immediately.
Burgon tweeted about an encounter with a schoolchild and her mother in a supermarket:
There’s nothing objectionable in the tweet. No insult to anyone. Just the observation that people feel distanced from the members of Parliament that represent them and that it’s something that needs to change. But it was enough to infuriate some – presumably because their constituents would never recognise them in public.
The first to react this morning was Ian Austin, genuinely one the most unpleasant, immature, arrogant and least likeable MPs in any party. He has a record of bullying and odious behaviour, including letting the Tories off the hook by heckling his party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons.
His initial contribution showed an extremely thin skin and the kind of narcissism that means he thinks everything anyone says is about him:
He followed this with a string of arrogant self-justification that doesn’t need to be reproduced here. But he’s also a hypocrite as well as a bully, as his preceding tweets on a different topic put beyond doubt:
So criticism of Labour staff for not doing their job is out of order, but launching an unprovoked diatribe against a fellow Labour MP for a comment that had nothing to do with him – well, that’s ok, apparently.
Austin is beyond help – hours later, he was still at it:
Unfortunately, Austin is not the only destestable, hypocritical bully in the PLP (parliamentary Labour party). He has an array of rivals for the title of ‘most hateful’. Neil Coyle is a serious challenger – and he adds snideness to the mix, whereas Austin is just a thug:
Seacroft is in Richard Burgon’s constituency. Coyle made a weight joke about a colleague to thousands of people. Coyle is a trustee of a mental health charity. That will change very soon, hopefully.
Choose your own four-letter epithet and that will also apply – and that’s not likely to change.
Cumbrian MP John Woodcock, hardly svelte himself, was the next to try his hand:
Woodcock was as unrepentant as Austin when called out on his behaviour.
But unpleasantness in the right-wing PLP is not limited to men.
Happily, there were no shortage of put-downs – of which this, in this author’s estimation, is the pick:
But that raises a very serious point. These people are not only unfit to serve as Labour MPs because of their lack of vision and their willingness to damage Labour’s electoral chances in order to protect their privilege and sense of self-importance. They’re awful human beings who have no place in the party, let alone on its Commons benches.
The SKWAWKBOX and without question the majority of Labour members want to see an end to it. If you or I bullied a work colleague, especially in public, we would be sacked – or at the very least, face serious disciplinary sanctions.
It should be – must be – no different in this case.
Burgon is only the latest victim of similar bullying attempts that have targeted front-benchers Angela Rayner, Diane Abbott, Cat Smith, Rebecca Long-Bailey and others – to such an extent that it looks like a strategy by the Blairites to try to undermine and discourage the best of Corbyn’s team.
Burgon is too classy to rise to their nonsense and the one response he did make to Austin was an exemplar of restraint. It’s unlikely he will report it, but this blog asks Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to deal with it. A ‘kinder politics’ is wonderful – but there’s no place for ‘doormat politics’ and examples need to be made.
Austin and co have put their heads on the block in their arrogance. The axe must fall – withdraw the whip, which will effectively expel them from the party and see whether they have the courage to ‘test their mandate’ as independents if they think they’re so electable, rather than their red rosette.
They should be expelled from the party completely, but the absolute silence on the part of Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol on the matter – in spite of many calls on him to condemn the bullying behaviour – show that he is too beholden to the right to act with any integrity. So removing him must also be a priority.
You could take ten each of Austin, Coyle, Woodcock, Greenwood and the MPs like them, bundle them together and put them in a Tesco trolley crammed full of your favourite drink – and they still wouldn’t be worth a tenth of a Richard Burgon, Angela Rayner or the others they’ve attacked.
Click and deselect – they won’t be missed.
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