Labour women demand candidate Kate Osborne is barred over gun image

Labour is being urged by some of its most prominent women to block a female candidate who shared a “violent” image online from standing in the general election.

During the previous election, Kate Osborne, who is standing in the seat of Jarrow, posted an image of former prime minister Theresa May with a gun to her head.

Although Ms Osborne has apologised, a group of 27 female Labour candidates are calling on the party’s General Secretary Jennie Formby and the ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to forbid her from standing when it decides her fate later on Saturday.

Two candidates have already been blocked from standing to become Labour MPs because of alleged anti-Semitic comments, while others have been criticised for social media comments.

In a letter, the candidates, including Liz Kendall, Jess Phillips, Yvette Cooper, Lucy Powell, Cat Smith and Vicky Foxcroft, urge the party to stop Ms Osborne from being able to run for the party.

The letter states: “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.

“When women in public life are facing unacceptable levels of intimidation, sharing this image not only indicates an extreme lack of judgement, but further feeds into the cycle of abuse that we are all currently experiencing.

“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.”

They add: “There is a danger of a pattern that affects our general election campaign with candidates that have been selected having abusive social media comments.

“This is not simply about one seat but about winning a Labour government, and not having candidates selected whose social media history will derail the campaign for all of us when we have a wealth of talent in our half a million members.

“I hope these serious concerns are taken into full consideration when deciding who is best placed to lead Labour’s campaign in Jarrow.”

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said posting the image was “unacceptable” but added that the decision on Ms Osborne’s future was up to the NEC.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Rayner said: “As somebody who’s faced a level of abuse and death threats as a politician, I think a lot of people out there really don’t see the vitriol and the nastiness that’s online that’s pointed towards politicians at the moment.

“So I think it’s totally unacceptable to share images like that.”

In a statement about the Theresa May image, Ms 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.”

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