Jared O’Mara is yet to actually speak in Parliament but when – or if – he does take to his feet in the chamber, it seems he will do so without the Labour whip. Following days of allegations about what the MP for Sheffield Hallam has written online, the party has finally acted to temporarily suspend him. It’s something of a surprise it has taken Labour this long to do so. Earlier this week, Guido reported that O’Mara – who ousted Nick Clegg at the snap election – called gay people ‘poofters’ and asked Girls Aloud for an orgy. The allegations have continued; this morning, it was reported that O’Mara made lewd comments about teenage girls attending a concert in another blog. Just moments before PMQs, John McDonnell said O’Mara was being suspended. The shadow chancellor said:
‘There will be a full investigation by the Labour Party and then, as a result of that, a final decision will be made about his future.’
This decision is undoubtedly the right move but will the party be brave enough to act conclusively? Tory MP Suella Fernandez welcomed O’Mara’s suspension, saying that it was ‘more than words, and that is the appropriate cause at this stage’. The question now will be whether the outcome of the investigation amounts to little ‘more than words’.
Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from the Labour party in 2016 following comments he made about Hitler, was told earlier this year that his suspension would last for another year. There were claims that the party was guilty of kicking the can down the road and failing to face up to one of its hard left members. The context this time is different, of course, but it’s high time for Labour to demonstrate it is capable of properly dealing with those within its ranks who should know better, no matter how inconvenient for the Labour leadership.