I have been on the receiving end of an unpleasant experience on Twitter. A Labour MP sent me an offensive tweet which, in effect, insinuated that I was indifferent to the plight of women who are raped or sexually assaulted.
Yes even though she has now conceded that in making such an insinuation she may have been confusing me with someone else, Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East & a shadow Treasury Minister, has refused to withdraw the hurtful tweet, let alone apologise.
This is the email I sent her and her response:
I am appalled that you have still not withdrawn your offensive tweet which stated:
“I’d feel happier if u were as interested in sticking up for women who are raped/ sexually assaulted + never see justice done.”
You made this comment, believing that I had “lobbied” you “persistently” on only two issues: anonymity for defendants and Julian Assange.
In the case of Assange, we had a tweet exchange on this for the first and only time yesterday. [ie Sunday 5th December.]
In the case of anonymity for defendants, I don’t recall tweeting at all about this, and you’ve now admitted that you were maybe confusing me with someone else, and have apologised for this mistake.
As I pointed out to you, we have exchanged tweets on a variety of topics over the last year or so.
That rather pulls the rug from under your assumption that I am somehow so obsessed with protecting men from charges of rape and sexual abuse that I must be indifferent to the plight of women.
Yet you still decline to withdraw a slur on my reputation made in a public forum.
I would remind you that this attack on me came in the context of a discussion which, until that point, had been conducted in a civil way.
One of the issues was whether Julian Assange was being charged with ‘rape’ in the way we understand the term. You objected to a blog on LiberalConspiracy which contended that Assange had not actually raped either woman.
My final tweet to you before your offensive response was : “But if they weren’t alleging rape – or not in the way that we understand it – shouldn’t we be told?
A perfectly reasonably question surely. Maybe you found it difficult to answer my point. Certainly you made no attempt to do so, but simply responded with your unpleasant tweet.
I’m aware that this is the way politicians frequently conduct yourselves – especially in the House of Commons. Someone on the other side makes a good point and, instead of attempting to answer it, you indulge in a personal attack.
But Twitter is not the House of Commons, and I am not a politician, and I object to being treated in such a shabby way.
We hear a lot about the Labour Party having failed to listen to the electorate in recent years. Ed Miliband says there is now a blank sheet of paper, and the Party will be listening to people. But in my experience you were unable to have a conversation with a member of the public on a matter you feel strongly about without resorting to insults.
This has frankly come as a huge disappointment to me. Until now I have looked on you favourably as a competent politician who I agree with more often than I disagree. As recently as Saturday we exchanged friendly tweets on a non-political topic.
I’m not a member of the Labour Party – I’m too independent to be a member of any party – but I voted Labour at the last election, and have on most occasions in my life voted Labour at General Elections though in recent years I’ve tended to vote Green at European and local elections.
I have criticisms of Labour in recent years – particularly on civil liberty and defence issues.
I make these points just to make it clear that I’m someone on the liberal left who is hoping for a better and more radical Labour Party. I’m the sort of person whose vote you need if you are to get back into power again.
I look forward to your response.
Kerry McCarthy’s response: “I think in the circumstances the best solution is for neither of us to converse with each other on Twitter again”. She then blocked me on Twitter.