Several of the Labour party’s senior female politicians are urging the party’s general secretary and the National Executive Committee to bar candidate Kate Osborne from standing as a candidate after it emerged she shared an image of Theresa May with a gun to her head on Facebook during the 2017 general election campaign, reported PoliticsHome, citing a leaked letter.
A list of ex-MPs campaigning for re-election have reportedly send a written appeal to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, demanding action.
"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 letter that PoliticsHome alludes to, is believed to also say that the group of 27 female Labour MP candidates strongly feel the image "not only indicates an extreme lack of judgement, but further feeds into the cycle of abuse that we are all currently experiencing", as they continue:
“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. 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."
Among those who have signed the letter are Liz Kendall, Jess Phillips, Yvette Cooper, Lucy Powell, Cat Smith and Vicky Foxcroft.
Kate Osborne has since apologised for the offensive post, but the group is calling on the party's General Secretary Jennie Formby and the NEC to not to allow her to stand.
“Unreservedly apologetic” for parody
In a statement to Huffington Post about the Theresa May image, Kate Osborne 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."
Osborne, a councillor for North Tyneside 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 believed to have the support of those close to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour leader said Osborne was "going through a process" when asked about the letter during a visit to Leeds.
He is quoted as saying:
"A panel will be conducted over the weekend to select a candidate for the Jarrow constituency and, no doubt, all those questions will be put to her as any question will be put to any of the candidates."
Meanwhile, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said posting the image was "unacceptable" but said the decision on Osborne's future was up to the NEC.
Labour is set to make a decision on Saturday about whether Osborne will stand for Jarrow.
Labour campaign woes
The current news comes as the Labour party has already been hit by a series of controversies over the selection of candidates.
On 3 November Jeremy Corbyn insisted British Jews have nothing to fear if his party wins the upcoming UK election amid reports that many members of the Jewish community would consider leaving Britain should this happen.
Corbyn, campaigning in Leeds, pledged to investigate claims that shadow international development secretary Dan Carden sang “Hey Jews” to the tune of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” during a coach trip in March 2018.
Carden himself vehemently rejected denied the allegations.
The developments followed news of two Labour members pulling out of the election race due to antisemitism allegations.
Gideon Bull, a Labour parliamentary candidate, withdrew from standing in the general election following accusations that he used the insulting term “Shylock,” a reference to the Shakespearean Jewish moneylender, at a meeting where a Jewish councillor was present.
Another Labour candidate Kate Ramsden stood down in the Scottish constituency of Gordon after he was investigated over a blog post that compared Israel to “an abused child who becomes an abusive adult”.
As Labour has been facing allegations of anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn has consistently rejected the accusations, pledging to redouble efforts to fight antisemitism in his party.
Earlier, the Labour Party officially launched its campaign for the 12 December general election, after a snap poll was approved by the UK Parliament's House of Commons on 29 October.
As the Conservatives and Labour are set to face off in a heated competition ahead of the 12 December general election that has been hailed by many observers as the most unpredictable in modern British history, a YouGov poll reveals Labour is suffering a major loss of support in virtually all regions of Great Britain.
The pollster compared the data obtained from 11,500 respondents with data from 2017 to reveal that the party has lost ground even in regions where it traditionally enjoys a lot of support, with the North West region witnessing the biggest decrease for Labour, dropping by 25 points compared to two years before.
The poll also showed that the voters' backing dropped by 20 points in Yorkshire and Humber, Wales and the West Midlands.