When Guido Fawkes broke the story that a newly elected Labour MP made sexist and homophobic comments back in 2003, it was possible to sympathise. It must be tough being a young MP in an age where your entire, embarrassing past is sitting there just waiting to be dug up and used as a weapon against you. All too often, lazy and ignorant comments – made in the spur of the moment as an angry teenager – are falsely interpreted as serious character indictments.
Then I had a look at what Jared O’Mara actually said, and quickly changed my mind. His sexist, homophobic and xenophobic remarks weren’t lazy or ignorant – they were vitriolic, and he wrote them when he was 23, not 13.
It is a very specific type of person who spends his days actively and persistently abusing unknown women from behind a screen, and it seems unlikely that many of this type – even after weaning themselves off internet trolling – ever develop the mental, intellectual and emotional capacity required to complete “a journey of discovery” about misogyny and feminism.
It didn’t come as much of a surprise, then, when it was revealed yesterday that O’Mara’s 15 year “journey” hadn’t taken him very far: he verbally abused a woman who rejected him just last year.
So how did such a clearly unsuitable candidate get selected in the first place? In 2015, when Labour thought it had a chance of winning Sheffield Hallam off Nick Clegg, they selected Oliver Coppard to contest the seat. Coppard, a Sheffield man educated at a local comprehensive who has gone on to have a successful career in policy advice, would have been an excellent candidate for 2017: he knew the seat, worked for Stronger In (Sheffield Hallam has a large student population and is vehemently pro-Remain) and has a sense of humour to boot.
Unfortunately for the voters of Sheffield Hallam, Coppard had to rule himself out. He had just started a new job and it was impossible to swing it with his new employers. The Corbynistas grabbed the opportunity, and O’Mara was chosen and presented by the far left as an example of the new way of doing politics.
This morning, it was announced that O’Mara has been suspended by the Labour Party. This will be cause for celebration for serious-minded, female Labour MPs like Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper, but they know that he is just the tip of the Corbynista iceberg. Hijacked by extreme entryists, Labour has become cultish, and now values loyalty to the hard left more than suitability and capability. Sadly, that means we probably haven’t seen the last of men like Mr O’Mara.