At HEqual we’re delighted to bring readers news of positive and very interesting developments concerning the Twitter hate speech of Liberal Democrat Executive Committe member Sarah Noble. Also known on Twitter as “sarahlicity”, Noble made a number of vile comments over several years, including wanting to “remove men from society” and advocating genocide of men by repeatedly tweeting “kill all men”. Noble also advocated for this removal of men from society at the infamous NUS Women 2015 conference. Outside of her Lib Dem work, Noble is a coordinator for Leeds University Union feminist society and also works on the hugely controversial Twitter blockbot.
After publishing our investigation into Sarah’s Twitter activity, we contacted the three Lib Dem executive committees on which Sarah sits, as well as Lib Dem Youth, for which Sarah serves as a member of the policy committee. We also made contact with Liberal Democrat MPs who’s remit includes or included equality issues, namely Julian Huppert and Jo Swinson. Various other individuals have complained about Noble’s conduct to the party after reading our investigation.
We pleased to say that the Yorkshire and Humberside Liberal Democrats have conducted themselves professionally during this matter and clearly taken our concerns and those of our 30,000+ readers seriously. A meeting of the Regional Executive was held on 4 April 2015, at which Noble’s conduct was discussed. We can now exclusively report the outcome of this meeting was as follows:
The Regional Executive decided to suspend Sarah Noble from the Regional Executive Committee to enable an investigation to be made into the statements. Senior Regional Officers will discuss your complaints with the Local Party who should investigate and decide on any future action.
Obviously we welcome the developments at the Yorkshire and Humber Lib Dems, unfortunately other party bodies have been far less helpful and highly evasive, failing to respond to any of our communications, presumably in the hope the story will just go away despite the huge interest. Thankfully, despite ignoring our emails and phone calls, we’re aware that senior Lib Dems are clearly avid readers of our articles, and amongst the 30K+ visitors we’ve noted multiple hits from what appears to be former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s own office:
Fortunately, we’re not the only ones wanting answers on this issue and we’d like to thank those who posted links to our article to Jo Swinson’s election Facebook election web chat session on April 14th. Thankfully, Jo didn’t dodge the question this time and finally issued the following statement:
“Such comments are competely unacceptable and in no way representative of the views of Liberal Democrats. We have taken action and asked the person in question to remove the posts and apologise.”
At HEqual we certainly welcome Swinson’s condemnation of Noble’s hate speech and also her call for the posts to be removed. However, we broke this story over a fortnight ago, and at the time of writing there has been no apology from Noble, nor has a single one of the Tweets in question been removed. As far as we know, Noble is still a member of the Lib Dems, and still sits on three our of four of the Lib Dem committees in question. Therefore, contrary to Swinson’s claims, the genocidal hate speech in question clearly is representative of the Liberal Democrats at present, and it remains as such for as long as the party has sitting committee members who make and stand by such comments.
While its better than nothing, the statement from Swinson really isn’t sufficient, and Lib Dems associated with equalities issues should be at the forefront in dealing with these type of issues. One has to expect certain Lib Dem feminists would have been rather more vocal had the genders been reversed in the hate Tweets. That said, the party has had previous problems in being sufficiently robust in tackling completely unacceptable comments by party members, most notably taking far too long to finally expel the anti-Semitic peer Jenny Tonge, so in all fairness there may well be basic mismanagement at work here in addition to sexism.
Unfortunately for the Lib Dems, news of Noble’s suspension has coincided perfectly with the launch of their manifesto, a document which, amongst other things, seeks to criminalise homophobic chanting at football matches. So we presently have a party who on one hand wants the police to be involved in handling somewhat offensive football chants, yet it’s own LGBT executive which presumably authored such a policy, comprises of at least one individual who’s Twitter feed is far more hateful than anything heard at any football ground anywhere in the country. Furthermore, the mere removal of an individual from important committee positions within the party is a far easier and less drastic step than actually involving the police. If the Lib Dems can’t put their own house in order, then it can’t possibly be credible for them to make such proposals.
HEqual will be in contact with the remaining committees who’ve remained silent on this issue to ask for their position in light of recent developments. Given the complete lack of response of even acknowledgement of our communications by said committees in the past, we’re forced to now also ask readers to do the same. You can contact them at the following links:
You can also contact Lib Dem equalities spokesperson Dr Julian Huppert: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, our thanks go out to the Yorkshire and Humberside branch for being so much more professional in handling this matter than the rest of the party. As a politically neutral organisation we’d like to emphasise that our wok is not motivated by the forthcoming election, and we’d be delighted if the Liberal Democrats were to swiftly resolve this issue and therefore again become a possible voting option for 49% of the electorate.
P.S. If you enjoy our investigations and research then perhaps please consider making a small donation to HEqual to support our work.