General election: Labour candidate facing calls to quit over abusive posts about Tories

A Labour parliamentary candidate is facing calls to resign after it emerged that he shared a social media post calling a female Tory peer a “c***”. Ian Byrne, the party’s candidate in the safe Labour seat of Liverpool West Derby, shared a Facebook post about Baroness Michelle Mone, the founder of the Ultimo underwear brand, calling…

A Labour parliamentary candidate is facing calls to resign after it emerged that he shared a social media post calling a female Tory peer a “c***”.

Ian Byrne, the party’s candidate in the safe Labour seat of Liverpool West Derby, shared a Facebook post about Baroness Michelle Mone, the founder of the Ultimo underwear brand, calling on people to “hit this c*** where it hurts”.

He also described Tory minister Esther McVey as a “bastard”, adding that she was “soon to be gone”. 

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Tory cabinet minister Liz Truss said the posts were ”disgusting and sexist” and called for the candidate to stand down “immediately”.

In 2015, Mr Byrne shared a post that called on people to boycott Ultimo after Ms Mone was made a Conservative peer.

leftCreated with Sketch.
rightCreated with Sketch.

It read: “This is Michelle Mone. She grew up in the working class end of Glasgow. She set up the Ultimo bra brand. She was sworn into the House of Lords and the first thing she did was vote to take tax credits away from people from a similar background to her. Please remember that this Christmas when you are buying presents.”

The post, uncovered by LBC, was captioned: “Hit this c*** where it hurts.”

A year earlier, Mr Byrne shared a post suggesting that Ms McVey, then the employment minister, was on course to lose her seat at the 2015 election, which she subsequently did.

Another user commented on the post saying: “She is a horrible bastard.” Mr Byrne agreed, replying: “Bastard…and soon to be gone.”

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has also faced criticism over his past comments about Mr McVey.

In 2014, he asked Labour activists campaigning to oust the MP: “Why are we sacking her? Why aren’t we lynching the bastard?”.

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Mr McDonnell and other Jeremy Corbyn allies including left-wing rising star MP Laura Pidcock backed Mr Byrne in the contest to replace outgoing MP Stephen Twigg in Liverpool West Derby, which he won by just two votes.

In addition to his comments about Conservatives politicians, Mr Byrne also called Prince William a “horse-faced t***” on Facebook in 2014.

And he previously had to apologise for suggesting that it would ”only be a matter of time” before Boris Johnson’s mother said she had been raped by Jimmy Saville, the late television star who is accused of hundreds of sexual offences.

Mr Byrne apologised again after his comments about Baroness Mone and Ms McVey were revealed, saying he was “a very different person now”.

He said: “I am deeply sorry for the inappropriate and offensive language from the shop floor that I used several years ago on social media and would not use today.

“I also shared a meme about a Conservative peer who voted to take away tax credits from the poorest and most vulnerable people. The person who originally posted the meme had used an unacceptable and misogynist language to describe her. This was not my language and I sincerely apologise.”

But Ms Truss, the international trade secretary, said: “These comments from a man who is set to become a Labour MP are disgusting and sexist. The use of such malicious language has no place in our public discourse.

“Female MPs face daily threats of violence on social media and we should be doing everything we can to stamp it out. Mr Byrne should step down immediately.”

General Election 2019: What you need to know

Labour declined to comment.

Both parties have been dogged by controversy over candidates’ past comments during the early days of the election campaign.

Tory candidate Nick Conrad, a former BBC radio presenter, stepped down after it emerged that he had told women to “keep your knickers on” if they did not want to be raped.

Labour’s candidate in Clacton, Gideon Bull, quit after admitting using the term “Shylock” at a party meeting – a reference to a Shakespeare character based heavily on antisemitic tropes. He denied that he had used it to refer to a Jewish councillor. 

The party’s candidate for Gordon, Kate Ramsden, also resigned after comparing Israel to an abused child who becomes an abusive adult.

However, Zarah Sultana, Labour’s candidate in Coventry South, has refused to quit despite controversy over her claims that she would celebrate the deaths of Tony Blair and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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