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MP quits Labour Party after ‘being made to feel like a criminal’ over anti-LGBT posts, sexist conduct

Nick Duffy July 13, 2018

Controversial MP Jared O’Mara has quit the Labour Party – claiming it had made him feel “like a criminal” after he was suspended for posts mocking “fudge packers” and “poofters”.

O’Mara, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, was suspended last year after it was revealed he had posted a string of homophobic and anti-LGBT messages.

The messages, sent while O’Mara was a Labour candidate in the early 2000s, referred to gay people as “fudge packers” and “poofters” and alluded to anal sex as “driving up the Marmite motorway”, referring to jazz musician Jamie Cullum as a “conceited c**t” who should be “sodomised with his own piano”.

Jared O’Mara

O’Mara was suspended when further allegations about his behaviour towards women came to light – but the politician was quietly reinstated as a Labour Member of Parliament last week.

However, the MP – who blamed “lad culture” for his remarks – has now announced he is quitting the Labour Party due to its approach to his conduct.

He said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that today I have decided to announce my departure from the Labour Party with immediate effect. This decision has not been taken lightly but has been made following careful reflection of the decision to re-admit me back into the Labour Party following my suspension last October.”

Despite being allowed back into the party, he said: “I feel I have not been listened to or been given a fair investigation as I do not believe they considered my supporting evidence or got in touch with my witnesses.

“Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the Labour Party no longer shares my commitment to the true definition of equality and compassion.”

O’Mara said: “I didn’t commit any crimes, yet I have been made unfairly to feel like a criminal.”

The MP, who was in his early 20s and a local Labour candidate when he made the comments, claimed: “Nobody should be made to feel ashamed for mistakes they make when they are young.

“Someone from a youth charity recently said to me that ‘young people should be free to be anti-social’. I was not anti-social by definition but agree with the sentiment. It’s part of learning and growing up.”

He added: “There is no doubt that I made mistakes as a young man using distasteful language as a clumsy attempt at satire and sarcasm online. But that does not mean that is who I am today.

“I am sure that there may be many of us who have done things in our past which we wished we had never done. That said, you can’t take it away and I am truly sorry for any offence that I caused.”

 

The MP added that he is “the first autistic MP in our history” and asked “for everybody to go on the internet and read about autism, and about my other disabilities; clinical depression, cerebral palsy and anxiety.”

He continued: “I would be lying to those of you whom I represent, and those close to me like my parents and sister respectively, if I continued under the pretence that I feel there is a place of acceptance and empathy for me as a working class, underprivileged disabled man within the Labour Party.

“I have experienced little to make me feel welcome, understood and accepted during this last year.”

 

 

Out Tory MP Justine Greening previously said O’Mara’s comments showed “the deep and persistent stain on Labour’s ability to represent women, the LGBT community and wider society.”

Jared O’Mara

O’Mara’s comments date from 2002 to 2004, when O’Mara was a local Labour candidate and in his early 20s.

He has never spoken about the homophobic nature of the remarks directly.

In a previous statement he said: “I am deeply ashamed of the comments I made online.

“I was wrong to make them; I understand why they are offensive and sincerely apologise for my use of such unacceptable language. I made the comments as a young man, at a particularly difficult time in my life, but that is no excuse.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“Misogyny is a deep problem in our society. Since making those comments 15 years ago, I have learned about inequalities of power and how violent language perpetuates them.

“I continue to strive to be a better man and work where I can to confront misogyny… I will continue to engage with, and crucially learn from, feminist and other equalities groups so as an MP I can do whatever I can to tackle misogyny.”

Speaking to Huck Magazine in October, O’Mara said: “There’s no room for the views I had as a young man in 2017 society, there was not room for those views back then either.”

He declined multiple interview requests from PinkNews at the time.

More: Gay, Jared O'Mara, LGBT, O'Mara, Politics

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