Owen Smith just tried to ‘out’ a John McDonnell staffer on Twitter and got the wrong guy
Failed Labour leadership candidate MP Owen Smith isn’t having a very good weekend. He jumped in on a Twitter thread to apparently ‘out’ John McDonnell’s communications chief, James Mills. But Smith got the wrong guy and social media users had a field day.
Well, it’s some Labour bloke called James
Twitter user @James4Labour joined in a conversation about Labour’s policy on Brexit and a second referendum. They tweeted:
We did! We were offered a second referendum by @OwenSmith_MP: he was rejected overwhelmingly.
Labour also ran on a manifesto pledge respecting the referendum result: to leave.
We increased vote share & number of MPs.
Jeremy elected leader- overwhelmingly- AFTER ref. result.
— James! (@James4Labour) May 26, 2018
Smith, however, couldn’t help himself. Seemingly believing ‘James’ was Mills, he attempted to ‘out’ him, evidently thinking this was Mills’ anonymous social media profile. It was a cheap dig:
Hey, someone told me this evening that you are James Mills who works for John McDonnell. Haven’t you got some proper work to do, James?
— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP) May 26, 2018
But as @James4Labour was quick to point out:
I’ve never heard of James Mills.
Haven’t you got something better to do with your time?
I’m sure the good folk of @johnmcdonnellMP’s office aren’t foolish enough to use the same name if they were operating undercover.
— James! (@James4Labour) May 26, 2018
And Twitter fell about laughing at the failed Labour leadership candidate:
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) May 26, 2018
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) May 26, 2018
The serious side
But as other people pointed out there is a serious side to what Smith did:
You actually think this is an appropriate way to raise an issue about someone you have been “told” is a staff member? What if what you have been told is not true ? Or if it is true public shaming of Party staff? Really?
— Emina Ibrahim (@Emina_ibrahim) May 26, 2018
And others pointed out that higher standards of verification should be expected from an MP:
Seriously. Incorrectly doxing someone on Twitter based on the word of a single anonymous source isn't a good look for an MP.
You obviously really upset him when you reminded him of his humiliating defeat in the leadership election 😂😂
— Karl Barx (@dieselblaze) May 26, 2018
But it seems Smith wasn’t even prepared to offer an apology. @James4Labour contacted him to ask:
I’m still not James Mills.
What time can we expect your apology?
— James! (@James4Labour) May 27, 2018
Smith responded by calling them a “troll”:
‘Morning, Troll. What’s your name again?
— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP) May 27, 2018
It’s easy to make mistakes and wrongly identify people on Twitter. But no one, let alone an MP, should be publicly trying to expose someone if they’ve chosen to keep their anonymity: especially via hearsay.
Having done so, and then getting the wrong person, the least Smith could do is offer an apology.
At least we can just be thankful he didn’t end up as Labour leader.
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