Labour stands by candidate criticised over social media attacks on female Tories

Posted On: 
12th November 2019

Labour has confirmed it is standing by a general election candidate who was crtiticised for foul-mouthed social media posts criticising female Tories.

Ian Byrne was cleared to stand in next month's election by Labour
Credit: 
PA Images

Ian Byrne was cleared by a special National Executive Committee panel to contest Liverpool West Derby on 12 December.

Mr Byrne was labelled “disgusting and sexist” after it was revealed he shared a message about Conservative peer Michelle Mone calling to "hit the c*** where it hurts".

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He also commented on a post about housing minister Esther McVey, describing her as a “b*****d… and soon to be gone".

The Labour activist had previously been forced to issue a public apology in September after the Mail on Sunday revealed that he once wrote “it can only be a matter of time before Boris Johnson’s mum comes forward and tells us that she was raped by Jimmy Saville in 1963.”

The NEC panel was convened to investigate Mr Byrne's past social media posts.

It met at the weekend but did not come to a decision, and was reconvened on Tuesday with a different gender balance after concerns were raised that it did not originally have a majority of female members.

The party said it had now concluded he will be allowed to stand in the safe Labour seat, which Stephen Twigg regained with a majority of 32,908 in 2017.

Ahead of the panel meeting, Mr Byrne had received the public backing of Jeremy Corbyn allies John McDonnell, Ian Lavery, Laura Pidcock and Richard Burgon.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr McDonnell said: "Ian in the past has made statements, some years ago, that he now regrets."

Mr Byrne has apologised for the comments, saying he was "working in a printing shop and at the start of my political journey" when he made them.

But International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: "These comments from a man who is set to become a Labour MP are disgusting and sexist.

“The use of such malicious language has no place in our public discourse.

"Female MPs face daily threats of violence on social media and we should be doing everything we can to stamp it out.

"Mr Byrne should step down immediately."

CLAUDIA WEBBE

Meanwhile, another close ally of Mr Corbyn has been chosen as Labour’s candidate for Leicester East, after longstanding MP Keith Vaz said he will not contest the seat again.

Islington councillor Claudia Webbe is a member of Labour's NEC as well as the left-wing Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.

She told the LabourList website: “I am proud to be born and bred in Leicester, and that’s why I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent the Leicester East community, where my family still live, and to make a positive impact on the lives of local people.”

Mr Vaz had been the MP since 1987 and enjoyed a majority of 22,428 in 2017, but revealed he was retiring after being handed a six-month suspension from the Commons over a cocaine and prostitution scandal.