‘Lord’ Alan Sugar has written and published an ‘Ode to Jeremy Corbyn’. The poem taunts the Labour leader with sexist abuse of frontbench Labour MP Diane Abbott. In a week where abusive behaviour against MPs is front-page news, this public sex-shaming of a female MP should not be ignored.
The ode-ious Lord Sugar
On 5 April, Sugar tweeted his ‘poem’ to Jeremy Corbyn. It was part of a series of tweets accusing the Labour leader of everything from antisemitism to poor dress sense. Then came this:
— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) April 5, 2018
Sugar dedicates the second verse of the poem to sex-shaming Diane Abbott, writing:
Jeremy Corbyn, a stud of a man
A playboy was he with his lover Diane
She’d get into bed wearing only her blusher
And lie back with Jezza just thinking of Russia
Sugar sought to accuse Corbyn of bigotry, but in doing so, he has crossed a line and indulged in naked bigotry himself. Twitter users were quick to alert Sugar to this dangerous double standard:
— Candy Canine Woof Woof #GTTO✋ (@candybrazao) April 5, 2018
@UKLabour Will you start disciplinary proceedings against @Lord_Sugar for bringing the party into disrepute. This is abhorrent, elitist, sexist and embarrassing. #LordSugarMustGo https://t.co/2S6ztNd7HY
— Sue McCormick (@LadyBrainSueMcC) April 5, 2018
Former Labour deputy PM John Prescott gave his own view on the poem and its author:
I fully support the #sugartax. £10,000 charged for every stupid tweet and statement Alan Sugar makes. It'll clear the national debt within a year.
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) April 6, 2018
Sugar responded to the criticism with more sexism:
What buy my importance ???? ….. looking at your twit pic you need to buy a face job love ! https://t.co/rzfnbMJjC3
— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) April 5, 2018
To put the tweet in context, a recent study found that Diane Abbott – Britain’s first Black, woman MP – received more abuse than any other MP during the 2017 election. In fact, she received almost half of all abuse aimed at women in Westminster. Speaking during an hour-long debate in July last year, Abbott detailed the abuse and intimidation she had been subjected to, saying:
I’ve had death threats. I’ve had people tweeting that I should be hung – if, quote, “they can find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch’s weight”. There was an EDL-affiliated Twitter account, #BurnDianeAbbott. I’ve had rape threats, described as a “pathetic, useless, fat, black, piece of sh*t”, “ugly fat black bitch”, and “n****r”.
N****r over and over again.
But this abuse doesn’t just come from members of the public. It stems from her conservative opponents in press and politics.
Paul Staines runs conservative blog Guido Fawkes. Last June, he was accused of misogynoir (both sexism and racism) for abusing Abbott on social media:
Brexit secretary David Davis, meanwhile, is alleged to have sexually harassed Abbott in Westminster. The incident allegedly took place in a popular parliamentary watering hole called Strangers’ Bar. Eyewitnesses claim Davis leaned in to kiss Abbott, who recoiled and told him to “f**k off”. Reportedly, Davis then walked off laughing.
When Abbott supported the rights of refugees during the migrant crisis, UKIP supporters called for her to be raped:
And one Tory councillor even posted an image of an ape wearing lipstick, captioned “Get the Diane Abbott look”:
It’s no joke
The abuse of women in the UK isn’t a laughing matter. Like racism, antisemitism and other forms of bigotry, sexism has violent consequences. The sexist attitudes that reduce women to maids, mothers or whores have impact beyond momentary offence. Women and girls are routinely abused, assaulted and killed because of these attitudes. According to Rape Crisis, 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales each year. That is almost 10 women an hour, all day, every day. And one in five women, aged between 16 and 59, has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. Anyone who cannot grasp that abusing women is wrong shouldn’t be put in charge of the photocopier, let alone our nation’s laws.
Gordon Brown made [paywall] Sugar a peer in 2009. It’s time for Labour to reconsider that choice.
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