UK Labour MPs who backed Syria strikes face online trolling

4th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

Labour MPs who this week voted in favour of Britain joining air strikes on Syria have faced online abuse and even death threats, forcing the opposition party to appeal for calm Friday.

In Wednesday's vote in the House of Commons, 66 members of the main opposition party voted with Prime Minister David Cameron to help him win approval for air strikes, despite leader Jeremy Corbyn opposing the move.

The debate has highlighted the depth of divisions in the party between left-wingers known as "Corbynistas" and those with more centrist views.

Some MPs say they were sent graphic photos of dead babies and severed heads ahead of the vote.

One lawmaker, Neil Coyle, is under police protection after receiving a death threat.

Another MP Stella Creasy wrote on Facebook Friday: "In last 24 hours have had over 1000 Facebook updates... and a similar amount of messages on Twitter as well as emails, let alone hundreds of calls and texts."

"Many of these online messages have been violent and abusive," she said.

The abuse has provoked questions about the role of Momentum, a left-wing grassroots organisation which supports Corbyn and was set up after his election as leader in September.

It orchestrated a campaign to try to persuade Labour MPs to oppose air strikes but says it "strongly disapproves" of abusive behaviour.

Labour's leadership now looks set to introduce a code of conduct to prevent online abuse.

"To use an issue of such importance to try to divide the Labour party is reprehensible," Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson told BBC radio Friday, adding that anyone intimidating MPs or their staff "should be removed from the party".

Watson and Corbyn also emailed activists Thursday telling them: "Abuse and intimidation have no place in politics. And the party as a whole will not accept such behaviour, from whatever quarter it comes."

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© 2015 AFP

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