MPs’ tweeted statements attacked, including damning responses from Merseyside BLM Alliance and Liverpool City Region Black Action
Two Liverpool MPs have been heavily criticised for lack of solidarity and a readiness to deprive local members of a say in who leads the city, after both released similar statements on Twitter in response to the scandal of Labour’s decision to bar all three shortlisted women candidates from the selection to represent the party in May’s mayoral election. The party has given no reason for its decision, inflicting enormous reputational damage on the women and triggering fury among members.
Highly popular left-winger and front-runner Anna Rothery was among those blocked. Rothery would have become the UK’s first black woman mayor if selected and elected and is seeking a legal injunction to prevent the party blocking her from the selection contest. Labour, meanwhile, was said to be looking to tie up the selection in favour of ‘centrist’ former MEP Theresa Griffin, although Griffin has since claimed she is not standing.
Wavertree MP Paula Barker put out a statement in which she said she was in solidarity with the candidates, but failed to condemn the decision to bar them – and she capped her comment by calling for a return to the old ‘council leader and cabinet’, in which Labour members in the city had no say in who was its political leader:
The reaction to Barker’s tweet was overwhelmingly critical, with a number of comments on the similarity :
The statement of Riverside MP Kim Johnson, the city’s only black parliamentarian, avoided mention of solidarity and echoed Barker’s call for a return to the mayoral model:
Johnson’s tweet garnered even more criticism, including comments asking how, if she was unaware of the reasons for the barring of the candidates, she could claim to know racism wasn’t involved in the decision concerning Rothery – and from black people objecting that her dismissal of racism did not speak for them:
Two local groups for black people responded with their view that racism was intrinsic to the decision to block Rothery’s candidacy. Black Lives Matter Alliance Merseyside put out a statement – co-signed by more than two dozen other groups – saying that the decision showed that Labour is the other side of the same coin as Tory racism:
Liverpool City Region Black Action tweeted a statement that took aim at Johnson’s claim that the city’s Black population would all take the same view as her that there was no racism involved:
And well-known author and activist Alan Gibbons put out a number of tweets pointing out that a return to the old model of a leader elected only by councillors would leave thousands of Labour members in the city without any say in who represented them as leader of the city:
Others believed that the MPs’ statements were influenced by their nearness to those they believe were involved in the move to bar the shortlisted candidates, or their preference for one of her rivals:
Meanwhile, at least one supporter of Kim Johnson, who also supports a different candidate for mayor and close to her daughter, has tweeted accusing those who criticised Johnson – who included black women – of racism and misogyny:
Both MPs were contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to without hardship, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.