This is rather a surprise. Long-time suspended Labour MP Jared O’Mara was just let back into the party after being given a formal warning for a series of allegedly homophobic and misogynistic comments.
There is no doubt that I made mistakes as a young man using distasteful language as a clumsy attempt at satire and sarcasm online. But that does not mean that is who I am today. I am sure that there may be many of us who have done things in our past which we wished we had never done. That said, you can’t take it away and I am truly sorry for any offence that I caused.
I didn’t commit any crimes, yet I have been made unfairly to feel like a criminal. Nobody should be made to feel ashamed for mistakes they make when they are young. Someone from a youth charity recently said to me that “young people should be free to be anti-social”. I was not anti-social by definition but agree with the sentiment. It’s part of learning and growing up…
I would be lying to those of you whom I represent, and those close to me like my parents and sister respectively, if I continued under the pretence that I feel there is a place of acceptance and empathy for me as a working-class, underprivileged disabled man within the Labour Party.
I have experienced little to make me feel welcome, understood and accepted during this last year.
He has yet to make his maiden speech in Parliament and the (absence of) his constituency surgeries has been a source of controversy. I mention those because it’s the other side of the story, the one missing from Jared O’Mara’s statement.
It isn’t just a question of how much you should hold against him what he previously said (and I’m far from convinced that giving young people the freedom to learn, to fail, to grow up is the same as saying ‘it’s ok to be anti-social’).
It is also a question of how he has acted since becoming an MP, which has been to neglect significant parts of the job of being an MP – something which other MPs facing very tough personal circumstances have much more usually either not done, or arranged to get others to help cover for them.