Foot-in-mouth disease: Owen Smith defends his use of inappropriate language on the BBC's Today programme but it is too little, too late. He is a persistent re-offender. If Labour is serious about upholding standards, then he must pay the same price as others.

Foot-in-mouth disease: Owen Smith defends his use of inappropriate language on the BBC’s Today programme but it is too little, too late. He is a persistent re-offender. If Labour is serious about upholding standards, then he must pay the same price as others.

Nobody else seemed to be doing it, so I did:

To: validation@labour.org.uk

I wish to report Owen Smith MP, the candidate in the Labour leadership election, for breaking party rules on acceptable behaviour.

On August 23, Mr Smith told supporters: “What you won’t get from me is some, you know, lunatic at the top of the Labour Party.”

Regardless of whether he was referring to himself or fellow candidate Jeremy Corbyn, this is clearly a pejorative use of the word that demeans sufferers of mental health problems.

This is not the first such offence.

On July 27 (if I recall correctly) he declared that he wanted to “smash Theresa May back on her heels” – violent and sexist language directed at a fellow MP, the Conservative prime minister.

Afterwards, he tried to trivialise it by saying it was “rhetoric”. It was unacceptable rhetoric.

Prior to that, in 2015, he told Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood she was only ever invited onto the BBC’s Question Time because of her “gender” – another sexist comment.

And in 2010, referring to the Liberal Democrats’ coalition with the Conservative Party, he used the language of domestic violence: “Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?”

This man is a serial offender. It should not matter that he is a candidate in a current leader election; the rules that have been made for the rest of the membership must also count for him.

I believe it is appropriate to suspend this man from membership of the Labour Party until the extent of his violent, sexist and abusive behaviour has been ascertained and a proper punishment has been carried out. He certainly should not be allowed to vote in the current leadership contest, no matter that he is a candidate. His candidacy should be revoked.

To be honest, I am surprised that the Party has not seen fit to cancel the process after the remark about Theresa May. That would have been the responsible thing to do.

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