Socialist Worker

Allegations about Labour figures shouldn’t be dismissed by blaming the right

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2579

Labour MP Clive Lewis said, Get on your knees bitch. Instances like these cant be excused away by blaming the right for publicising them

Labour MP Clive Lewis said, "Get on your knees bitch". Instances like these can't be excused away by blaming the right for publicising them (Pic: Chris McAndrew)


Several Labour MPs and officials have also been accused of sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour and rape.

Kelvin Hopkins MP has been suspended over allegations that he rubbed his crotch against Ava Etemadzadeh in 2015 and sent her a text message saying a “nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover”.

Hopkins denies wrongdoing.

Kelvin Hopkins

Kelvin Hopkins (Pic: Chris McAndrew)


After the incident Hopkins was spoken to by chief whip Rosie Winterton, who issued a reprimand.

Hopkins was subsequently promoted for a brief period to the shadow cabinet.

Jeremy Corbyn said last week, “He had been reprimanded, the case had been closed. I thought it was reasonable to appoint him.

“All I can say is I took a decision based on what I knew at the time.”

He added the matter must be “investigated and resolved”.

In addition a woman says Clive Lewis MP squeezed her bottom at an event at the party’s conference in September. At the same event Lewis was recorded saying, “Get on your knees bitch”.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said she was groped “at a Labour Party social event in 2013, before I was an MSP.

“A man, who was a senior figure in the party... touched my body, in an intimate way, without invitation or permission.

Communities

Carl Sargeant, the Labour Welsh Government’s cabinet secretary for communities and children, stepped down last week after being told of “shocking and distressing” allegations against him. He died shortly before Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.

Ivan Lewis MP has denied claims that he sexually harassed a teenage girl at a party event.

The party is also investigating Jared O’Mara, who was suspended for making misogynistic and homophobic remarks on online message boards. Labour has appointed an independent expert to deal with allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the party. Some members have said that its current procedures are “insufficient”.

Meanwhile human rights barrister Karon Monaghan will hold an investigation into how Labour handled rape allegations from Bex Bailey and review the party’s procedures for dealing with complaints.

Bailey, a former member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, said she was told that speaking up about the attack would “damage” her career. She also said the party failed to offer her the support she needed after the 2011 incident.

The allegations are serious. The Labour right has previously made fake allegations of, for example, antisemitism against the left. But the worst response from the left—inside or outside Labour—would be to say that these allegations must also be a plot.


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