A leading Labour MP has blasted Sir Keir Starmer for failing to speak up for MPs who are subject to bullying online.
Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, accused the Labour leading of failing to stop local activists from harassing her online, and has admitted to being ‘tempted’ to defect to the Conservatives, who had been ‘incredibly supportive’ of her.
‘They have factions as well, but they don’t tear it apart; they don’t hate each other inside the party in the way that we do in some of our branches,’ she said. ‘It’s tempting to go somewhere where you don’t have to battle your own tiny faction of your own membership.
‘I’m quite good as a constituency MP and my team is fantastic. I don’t want to not be an MP, but I do need some more support from the party quite soon.’
She also revealed that the Liberal Democrats have asked her to join them, but that she is ‘a Labour person’.
Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, accused the Labour leading of failing to stop local activists from harassing her online
Ms Duffield, 50, who successfully took the seat from the Tories for the first time in a century in the 2017 General Election, compared the Labour leader to his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, who she said refused to get involved when she was threatened with a censure motion when she first voiced concerns about anti-Semitism in the party.
She told the Chopper’s Politics podcast little has changed under Sir Keir, and told of the harassment she has faced from activists who have posted details of her private life online, which she says are incorrect.
‘It makes you feel very strange and vulnerable,’ she said. ‘I have to tell the local police where I’m going to be almost all the time.
‘When Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed about my local party, they had a motion of no censure because I was talking anti-Semitism, they wanted to basically shut me up.
‘Jeremy was repeatedly asked if he supported me or if he would make a statement supporting them. He said he didn’t get involved at local level, and didn’t make statements about local constituency parties.
‘I don’t feel there’s a huge amount of difference at the moment. And some of those characters are still around and still organising against me.’
She added that ‘Labour is still two parties.’
She told the Chopper’s Politics podcast little has changed under Sir Keir
‘The issue is we’re not really telling the truth about the make-up of the Labour Party,’ she said. ‘It is two parties and it’s still two parties.
‘We’ve got the Corbynistas’ wing and we’ve got the more centrists. It’s very lovely that Keir wants to unite everyone and wants to kind of get rid of people that are difficult and problematic. But it hasn’t happened yet, and those people are digging down all the time.
‘He’s pledged to unite the party and to support both wings. But personally, I don’t see how that is possible.
‘That means promoting people from a particular faction, keeping in with the unions. All of that is important but at some point, over some issues, you have to come off the fence.’
When asked if Sir Keir was being a ‘coward’ by not doing more to tackle abuse towards women in Labour she said: ‘I don’t know.
‘Personally, leadership requires a slightly no-nonsense approach sometimes. It’s great trying to accommodate everyone, but when ‘everyone’ means people actively trying to bring down one of your MPs … you probably need to be sending out a stronger message that they don’t do so in your name.’
A spokesperson for the Labour party told The Telegraph: ‘Rosie is a valued member of the PLP. Keir Starmer and the Labour Party continue to offer her our full support.’
Ms Duffield compared the Labour leader to his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, who she said refused to get involved when she was threatened with a censure motion when she first voiced concerns about anti-Semitism in the party
The mother-of-two’s comments come days after Nick Forbes, an ally of Sir Keir who served as the leader of Newcastle City Council for over 10 years was deselected.
Mr Forbes said he was ‘immensely sad’ not to have been selected as the Labour candidate for his Arthur’s Hill ward after being deselected by Corbynites within the party.
Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair also spoke out about online abuse suffered by female MPs this week.
‘With social media it’s brutal,’ he said. ‘There are so many interesting things you could do; why would you become an MP to be abused? It’s worse for women.’