Labour’s Laura Smith tears into Tory MPs for their ‘disgraceful insults’ in parliament

Laura Smith
Fréa Lockley

On 19 December, Labour’s Laura Smith tore into the “disgraceful insults” constantly thrown around parliament by Conservative politicians. And as the MP for Crewe and Nantwich tried to speak, she was jeered and mocked from the other side of the Commons. But she stood her ground to make her point with absolute impact and poise.

#DontLetThemShoutYouDown

Smith asked Commons speaker John Bercow if he could “advise” her as a relatively new MP on how to explain Tory parliamentary conduct to her constituents. But she got no further because Conservative MPs erupted in shouts and jeers. As she paused, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry called out “Don’t let them shout you down”. Smith replied “I won’t”, but it took some time before she could continue:

Because the level of hypocrisy in this place is quite astounding… we have to put up with the most disgraceful insults thrown at us. And nobody more so… than the leader of the opposition who has to put up with it day in, day out.

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Thornberry supported both Smith and fellow Labour MP Laura Pidcock in the Commons that day:

Later, Smith reiterated her point on Twitter:

Her comments came on the same day that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had to defend himself against a muttered comment and outrage about something he didn’t even say. And when the Tories start smearing Corbyn, the UK’s mainstream media dutifully amplifies them:

“Disgraceful insults”

Smith was making a powerful point. Because insults have been flying out at Corbyn since he became Labour leader. As The Canary reported in October 2015, former prime minister David Cameron claimed Corbyn was “Britain-hating”. And just a couple of months later, he called the Labour leader and anti-war colleagues “terrorist sympathisers”. Countless times, Corbyn has been unable to continue a speech in parliament because of Tory insults. Once these are thrown, the Conservative benches disintegrate into howls of public-school laughter.

High-profile Tory politician Boris Johnson, meanwhile, called Corbyn a “mutton headed old Mugwump”. Then in 2018, he labelled Labour MPs as a “weaselly cabal of superannuated Marxists and Hugo Chavez-admiring anti-semitism-condoning Kremlin apologists”.

And it’s not just Corbyn who’s suffered. Outside the Commons, Labour’s Diane Abbott has “had rape threats, [and been] described as a pathetic, useless fat black, piece of sh*t, ugly fat black bitch and n*****. N***** over and over again.” She has received more “racist tweets and online racism” than any other female MP. Looking at behaviour inside the Commons, meanwhile, it doesn’t take much to connect the Tories’ continued rudeness towards Labour MPs with this shocking racist abuse. Because, as Smith showed, there’s no respect when Labour MPs speak.

Proper politics

Smith’s comments were spot on, as many pointed out:

Even a Daily Mail reporter was impressed:

Unlike the braying Tories, Smith remained poised and eloquent despite Tory jeers. That’s proper politics. And Smith smashed it.

Featured image via screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. Something often remarked on is how small the debating chamber of the House of Commons is. This is put forward as a merit – makes the space very intimate. The problem is that it also means that everyone is too close to everyone else, and it’s very easy for a herd dynamic to whip itself up very quickly. Maybe it’s a shame that the bomb that fell in parliament in WWII didn’t do rather more damaged.

      Worth bearing in mind also that many of the Tories at this time are probably drunk. It’s a Thursday afternoon; they have no proper business to conduct – do they ever?! – and this is a piece of entertainment for them. Given the size of the venue and the amount of alcohol around, it’s not unlike watching a football on TV in a pub.

      They really should consider closing the bars in the HoC.

      Oh, and, yes, they are stupid. They may have a certain cleverness – when sober – and a certain amount of base cunning; but very little real intelligence, which is a quite different quality.

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