‘Semi-detached’ Labour MP John Woodcock has been suspended pending the investigation of ‘sex-pest’ allegations against him. Mr Woodcock is entitled to the presumption of innocence – and has claimed as much in a statement about his suspension.
But there’s the rub. Mr Woodcock’s allies in the Labour Party have maintained the kind of non-judgmental silence about his suspension and the allegations that led to it that befits a quasi-judicial process about serious allegations.
So far, so good – and that would be a reasonable end to the matter, were it not for the absolute orgy of pre-judgment and abandonment of due process that accompanied the allegations against Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins.
Woodcock’s statement, in part, reads:
I do not accept the charge being brought against me but have been cooperating fully with the process and remain committed to a thorough and fair investigation of the case.
I am therefore very concerned that one of the very few individuals with knowledge of the case chose to place selective details of it in newspapers this weekend. Labour’s new general secretary has cited this publicity as a reason to suspend me from the Labour whip.
The decision at this politically charged time to place details of my case in the press and then suspend me places a serious question mark over the integrity of the process, which serves neither those making complaints nor those facing allegations.
I want this complaint to be judged in a way that is seen to be fair. In the meantime I will continue working hard for my constituents in Parliament and in Furness, and will continue to speak out when I believe it is right to do so.
(Emphases added by the SKWAWKBOX)
Woodcock bemoans the publicity around the allegations against him and claims that both publicity and his suspension are politically motivated. But this has not provoked outrage among the Labour right.
By contrast, in the Hopkins case details of the allegations were not only all over the media and in the social media feeds of various MPs and ‘activists’, but even to mention the idea of due process and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ caused an avalanche of accusations of ‘victim-blaming’. When he was suspended, it was greeted with cries that he should be sacked – and condemnations of Jeremy Corbyn for not doing so – even though it is not within the power of Labour’s leader to do it even if he wished to.
The SKWAWKBOX was accused of victim-blaming merely for publishing, without comment as to its merits or otherwise, Kelvin Hopkins’ response to his suspension:
Hopkins’ statement was, in fact, extremely careful not to blame his accuser, even though he denied the accusations – but almost no other outlet apart from the SKWAWKBOX was prepared to carry it – and Hopkins was treated, by an array of ‘centrist’ figures, as if the mere fact of being accused was proof of guilt and any request for due process was an affront to the accuser.
Woodcock’s statement, by contrast, has been published freely – including a denial of the accusations against him and his complaints about the publicity surrounding them – and shared across social media, without any of the outrage and certainly without allegations of victim-blaming by so-called ‘moderate’ MPs.
Jess Phillips did tweet an attempt to head off criticism about her different approach:
However, she was challenged by other Twitter users, who reminded her that they were not looking for her to compromise the complainant’s anonymity or privacy, but to make a comment about Mr Woodcock.
The SKWAWKBOX was unable to find a reference to Woodcock on Stella Creasy’s Twitter feed – and the feeds of other centrists were similarly void of mention, let alone condemnation.
And that’s all fine – or would be, if the contrast with the reaction to the Hopkins case, as typified by the two MPs quoted above, was not so stark.
Respecting due process and the presumption of innocence in the case of an ally – and remaining silent about his self-defence – but leaping to a verdict and loudly, publicly condemning even a non-judgmental statement by the accused in the case of a supporter of the party leader is not ‘fine’.
But that’s exactly what the allegations against John Woodcock and his statement in his own defence have exposed across a large part of the Labour right.
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