Dudley Labour MP Ian Austin has a reputation for boorish behaviour, having been called “thuggish” by a fellow MP and an “unpleasant bully” by a journalist after Austin disgraced himself by heckling his own party leader for daring to speak about Tony Blair’s involvement in the Iraq war.
Austin is also no fan of the SKWAWKBOX, which exposed his altercation with then-front bencher Chris Williamson and covered his graceless defeat by his CLP over nominations for the National Executive Committee (NEC) elections, as well as criticism by Labour veteran Dennis Skinner for Austin’s “wafting in the wind“.
So it’s safe to say honeyed words were not expected in response when we sent a press enquiry to Mr Austin about his crass attack on senior NEC member Christine Shawcroft:
Austin received short shrift from Labour members on Twitter for his display of contempt for democracy. He was also grossly inaccurate, since the committee had not ‘been politicised’, as Ms Shawcroft had not voted during the committee meeting, so those voting were the same as before the change of chair.
We sent Austin a press enquiry about his verbal assault, asking:
- in what sense Ms Black has been ‘sacked’ when she lost a democratic vote that always takes place around this time of year
- in what sense has the panel been ‘politicised’ when Ms Shawcroft didn’t even vote, as her casting vote was not needed, so the same people voted on yesterday’s disciplinaries as would have anyway
- in what way Ms Shawcroft’s suspension is relevant when a suspension is not proof of wrongdoing and she was overwhelmingly voted onto the NEC by members – the same members who made Ann Black the first NEC candidate to get 100k votes
Mr Austin decided not to address these reasonable questions. But he did respond:
Austin was as inaccurate in his response as he had been in his attack on Ms Shawcroft, since the SKWAWKBOX carries the IMPRESS Trust Mark and its editor is an accredited journalist. You might almost say Austin had ‘put utter garbage on the internet’.
We acknowledged his request not to contact him and suggested it might be unwise not to want the chance to comment on potential future articles. He responded by daring us to publish his initial comment – clearly not realising that they reflect on him rather than this blog or its editor.
So we confirmed that we would indeed be doing so – at which he ‘doubled down’ on his boorishness:
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mr Austin must be a little rattled by being challenged, writing such emails from his official parliamentary account.
Perhaps that’s simply his normal style of communication.
But if he thought his tirade would prevent the questions about his fact-lite rudeness to a senior member of Labour’s NEC – and his failure to answer them – being published on the SKWAWKBOX, he miscalculated.
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