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EXCL Female Labour MPs demand party bosses block candidate who shared Theresa May gun picture

EXCL Female Labour MPs demand party bosses block candidate who shared Theresa May gun picture
3 min read

Female Labour MPs have called on party bosses to block a candidate who shared a picture of Theresa May with a gun pointing at her head.

Kate Osborne posted the image on Facebook in the run-up to the 2017 general election.

Labour officials will decide on Saturday whether Ms Osborne, who has since apologised, will stand for the party in Jarrow at the general election.

But in a letter to Labour general secretary Jennie Formby and members of the party's ruling national executive committee, 27 female candidates said she should be dumped.

They say the would-be MP's decision to share the image "not only indicates an extreme lack of judgement, but further feeds into the cycle of abuse that we are all currently experiencing".

The letter, which has been leaked to PoliticsHome, says: "We are writing to you today to express our shock and concern about the possible selection of Kate Osborne to be Labour's parliamentary candidate in Jarrow.  

"You will be aware of an image allegedly shared by Kate Osborne on social media, depicting a gun being held to Theresa May's head. 

"The impact of such images are clear - they incite intimidation and violence against female politicians. Many of our Labour colleagues - and indeed politicians from all political parties - have been subject to similar disturbing content online.  

"When women in public life are facing unacceptable levels of intimidation, sharing this image not only indicates an extreme lack of judgement, but further feeds into the cycle of abuse that we are all currently experiencing.

"If Kate Osborne is selected, it would undermine any claim our party makes to stand resolutely against the harassment and intimidation of women in public life. 

"There is a danger of a pattern that affects our general election campaign with candidates that have been selected having abusive social media comments.

"This is not simply about one seat but about winning a Labour government, and not having candidates selected whose social media history will derail the campaign for all of us when we have a wealth of talent in our half a million members.

"I hope these serious concerns are taken into full consideration when deciding who is best placed to lead Labour's campaign in Jarrow."

Among those who have signed the letter are Liz Kendall, Jess Phillips, Yvette Cooper, Lucy Powell, Cat Smith and Vicky Foxcroft.

Ms Osborne, who tried and failed a week ago to be chosen as Labour's candidate in Blyth, is a member of Unite's executive council and is thought to have the support of those close to Jeremy Corbyn.

In a statement to Huffington Post about the Theresa May image, she said: "I shared an image on social media of a film parody poster making light of Theresa May’s forced and robotic statements about her ‘strong and stable government’ in the run up to the 2017 general election.

"I unreservedly apologise for having shared this image. As a woman, I am extremely concerned about the abuse and threats that women in politics face and if elected I will work with colleagues to challenge misogyny, hate and division in politics and beyond."

A Labour spokesperson said they did not comment on selection processes.

The party has already been hit by a series of controversies over the selection of candidates.

Two have been forced to quit over allegations they shared anti-semitic material, while another was forced to apologise over abusive Facebook comments he shared about female Conservatives.

Meanwhile, party bosses have also been condemned after a female candidate chosen by Labour members in Bassetlaw was dumped by the NEC in favour of the leadership's preferred choice.

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