As right-wing, male Labour MPs attempt to defend the indefensible – the hideous tweets about the murder and gang-rape of a female Labour front-bencher by now-suspended Lewisham East party chair and Labour campaign secretary Ian McKenzie – and even socialise with him in Parliament, their members have begun to take them to task.
But McKenzie’s supporters continue to try to justify McKenzie’s social media comments and attempt to use the rules to get him off the hook, yet more deeply unpleasant comments – many of them about women – have emerged.
Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott is the target of vast amounts of online abuse and spoke movingly in Parliament of the hideous comments she received. McKenzie – a member of the same party – has been happy to add to it.
When the Labour right was busy rushing to back the Tories over Syria, McKenzie praised Dan Fox – another Labour right-winger who has had issues, having been forced to apologise for a racist and misogynist comment on Twitter – but had a barb, almost literally, for Abbott at the end of it:
But it wasn’t a one-off:
Labour MP Angela Rayner came from a tough working-class background and overcame a very limited school education to rise to the position of Shadow Education Secretary. Although foolishly criticised by snobs for her northern accent, she is capable and highly regarded – frequently referred to by commentators as a ‘rising star’ of the party.
McKenzie, on the other hand, seemed not to have any regard for her intelligence or capability:
Ms Rayner could be excused for not appreciating the comparison with the likes of right-wingers Neil Kinnock, Jack Straw or David Blunkett – but she certainly stands above them in genuine political stature among the left.
Mr McKenzie and his supporters are trying to hide behind the Chakrabarti Report to escape sanction for his behaviour. This is ironic, given his history of comments about the report’s author:
His use of ‘poisonous’ also stands out in the light of recent events.
McKenzie does not direct his fire only at Labour women. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon also got both barrels:
Nor is his venom reserved for parliamentarians. Columnist Polly Toynbee was the target of a string of particularly unpleasant comments on the same sexist theme:
But perhaps the most disturbing – which seems unconnected to any context but a hashtag – is this:
For balance, it should be pointed out that McKenzie does target a man sometimes:
But he has also made at least one comment that would be certain to trigger storms of protest for him to be drummed out of the party were he a left-winger:
McKenzie’s allies are still trying to paint criticism of his behaviour as a left-wing stitch-up. But his public social media history shows that his comments about Emily Thornberry were not an isolated slip.
Can there be any place for Ian McKenzie and those like him in the UK’s party of equality and justice?
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