Owen Smith’s biggest backer just lost it on social media, threatening violence against an MP [TWEETS]

Tracy Keeling

John McTernan, a commentator and previous strategist for the Labour Party, has threatened an SNP MP with violence on Twitter. In one fell swoop, McTernan (who strongly backs Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest) proved himself to be the very type of abusive person that officials claim they want ejected from the party.

The threat transpired during an exchange between McTernan and SNP MP Pete Wishart over recently released figures on the state of Scotland’s finances. Wishart had commented that the newly released figures “reflect Scotland as part of the UK”. McTernan responded by suggesting that the country’s finances would be worse outside of the UK.

To that statement Wishart commented:

McTernan responded with the following message:

A swift reaction was then issued from Wishart:

And it was this last message that propelled McTernan to suggest violence:

Twitter users who saw the exchange had various reactions to the threat:

There was obvious amusement found by some commentators in the online clash, with one suggesting McTernan should form his own “Alpha Male Party”. But this behaviour by McTernan is more than just “over the top”. It is likely a direct violation of Labour Party rules.

The Labour Party has seriously cracked down on anything it deems abusive behaviour since the Labour leadership contest began. For example, it has banned words like ‘traitor’, ‘scum’, ‘scab’, and ‘Blairite‘. One Labour member was even suspended for writing poetry that criticised anti-Corbyn Labour MPs.

Obviously, Wishart is not a Labour MP. But surely the party’s new heavy-handed rules on abuse do not exclude actual aggressive behaviour towards MPs. It would be a strange crackdown indeed if a Labour Party member could be banned for calling a Labour MP a ‘Blairite’ but get off scot-free if they threaten to floor an MP from another party.

Unfortunately, in the current climate, it would be surprising if action was taken against McTernan for his comments. So far, when those in Smith’s corner have hurled abuse (such as calling Corbyn supporters “Nazi stormtroopers”), nothing has been done.

But the incident does serve as a useful reminder that the constant (and usually falsebranding of only Corbyn supporters as abusive is nonsense. Those who behave in such a manner are making an individual choice. And McTernan has most certainly made his own choice aggressively clear.

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Featured image via Policy Exchange/Flickr

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