On Sunday, HEqual was the first outlet to report on the domestic violence of Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran. The feminist Member of Parliament admitted to slapping her boyfriend at a conference over a lost computer cable.
We’ve been very pleased with the reaction to Sunday’s article, it was the most popular such piece on Twitter, way ahead of articles by the Daily Telegraph, Sun, and Daily Mail. Having noted the BBC South’s failure to report on the story, we took the time to remind them of their obligation to report this case as they had with previous male abusers and urged them not to cover it up as they did with the Sarah Champion domestic violence case. Refreshingly, they didn’t ignore the case and published a satisfactory article five hours after we got in touch, with BBC local radio later discussing the matter too.
While Moran’s complete inability to control her temper, her completely inadequate non-apology and her victim blaming are all very notable things we’ve learned from this case, they’re perhaps not the most important elements. Even more interesting has been the reaction to her behaviour and her statement, and we previously reported on two Liberal Democrat politicians fully supporting her. As the story gained traction, these two have sadly been joined by others, and so it’s worthwhile examining the reactions by members of her party in more detail.
Despite Moran’s efforts to stop us from exposing further sexism by childishly blocking us from viewing her twitter feed, we’ve still read through the 1000+ direct responses to her tweet and picked out all the tweets from Liberal Democrats politicians and officials (ignoring those who were merely members). We’ve analysed them below to give an indication of the Lib Dem approach to female perpetrators of domestic violence.
1. Caron Lindsay – Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice
Like any good feminist, Lindsay supported Moran stating “I admire your candour and courage in addressing this”. She also attempted to close down discussion of Moran behaviour stating “this should be an end to the matter”.
2. Alex Hegenbarth – Lib Dem councillor and Candidate for Twekesbuy
Hegenbarth praised Moran “for taking the brave step of sharing your story”. If other Lib Dem candidates as half as poor in their thinking as Hegenbarth then they won’t win many seats at the next election.
3. Geoff Brewer – former Lib Dem candidate for South Swindon and Kingswood
Brewer bizarrely states: “well done you for bravely clarifying the incident. These things happen. I hope those who tried to use it as a tool against you now feel suitably embarrassed.” Why on earth would anyone who exposed her as an abuser feel embarrassed about doing so? Brewer is flipping reality on its head.
4. Patrick Keating – Lib Dem Candidate for Weston-super-Mare
Keating writes: “huge amount of respect fo Layla for sharing this. it’s no one’s business”. So, clearly Patrick things domestic abuse is a totally private issue, the police should never be involved, and no one else need ever know about it. Is that really in-line with Lib Dem policy on the matter?
5. Kishan Divani – Lib Dem Treasurers Envoy
Divani was also very supportive of Moran, his warped take on her pathetic victim-blaming statement was that she is “a truly inspirational individual”. I suppose it makes a change from all the other tweets lauding an abuser as “brave” or “courageous”.
6. Ben Rich – Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron’s Chief of staff
Like others Rich thanked Moran for sharing her statement, and said (apparently completely seriously) that: “this is very courageous”.
7. John Wright – Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Southport
Wright tweeted “Courage and honesty. Two great qualities so lacking in so many of our politicians today. Thank you Layla.” Let be clear here, there is nothing courageous about Moran’s victim blaming, nor does her statement seem especially honest in the way it is written, so he’s wrong on both counts there.
8. “Jacqui” – Lib Dem Councillor in Cornwall
Jacqui (surname unknown) tweeted in response to Moran’s admission of abuse: “Layla you are an inspiration to many of us”
9. Catherine Bearder – Lib Dem Member of the European Parliament
Bearder is one of the more high-profile members of the Layla Moran domestic violence fan club. She stated “Thanks for stopping these ugly rumours. Clearly this wasn’t the secretive, brutal nature of domestic violence. We’ve all made mistakes, but its how we handle them that is the key to our character and you, Layla have that in spades. A true Liberal and Democrat”. While perhaps not the worst tweet we’ve found, the way Bearder seeks to minimise Moran’s abuse is incredibly disappointing and in some ways her’s is the most one-sided. Yes the incident was indeed petty, but that begs the question as to how violent Moran might become n the event of the loss of an item of some actual importance. And so what if the domestic violence wasn’t secretive? If Moran is so emboldened as to assault partners in public then one would hate to think what she might be capable of behind closed doors!
10. Nick Grant – Lib Dem councillor candidate
Grant is again fully supportive and dismissive of Moran’s abuse, with his tweet indicating her awful behaviour was perfectly normal. He said: “Wow! You’re human! You have a life and stuff! Who knew? If you believe “having a life” involves activities such as assaulting people over computer cables then you must have quite a strange view of the world.
11. Caroline Leaver – feminist Lib Dem councillor in Newport
Leaver (who certainly has the best surname of any Lib Dem) supported Moran with the tweet: “Thank you for sharing that Layla. It’s a brave thing to do, laying out personal moments that we’d rather had never happened. You’ll probably get some stick for it, but I very much respect your openness about it”. Again we see that term “brave”, would a feminist describe a male perpetrator with such an adjective?
12. Sarah Martin – Saltash Liberal Democrat Town Councillor
Martin writes: “It’s always hard when people dig around for dirt to try and discredit. Rise above it. I’m sorry you felt you had to share that but understand why you did. It changes nothing x.” Again let’s be clear here, Moran discredited herself by being a perpetrator of domestic violence who is completely unable to control her temper, even when it comes to trivial matters. Those “digging around” are simply exposing the truth and forced Moran to release important information she wished to cover-up.
13. Robert Swift – Liberal Democrat candidate in Gedding
Swift’s statement might be more reasonable than those of others were it not for the ridiculously inappropriate opening sentence. He writes: “Well done Layla. Politicians are expected to be born knowing they want to be politicians and then spend several decades not making any mistakes. Everyone in the world has done things they regret. Should we all be ruled out of standing for office?”
14. Nick da Costa – Lib Dem Councillor in Haringey
We documented Da Costa’s tweet in our previous article and how he described Moran as “brave” and “an inspiration”. Nick was one of the many people who read our article, and he clearly doesn’t appreciate us exposing his misandrist views because he (just like his favourite MP) has blocked us from viewing any more of them.
Thankfully there are a small number of decent and genuinely courageous Liberal Democrat politicians out there who were willing to call out Moran as an abuser and even highlight the sexist double standards in this case.
Former Lib Dem Councillor Julian Heather was one of the few Lib Dems to come out and condemn Moran and his fellow Lib Dems, noting “Sorry, but as Lib Dems we ought to condemn domestic violence, whoever commits it. I suspect you wouldn’t be so keen to overlook it, if it was a man committing domestic violence against a woman.” He further tweeted to say “Sorry, but domestic violence is everyone’s business.”
The accolade for the sole current Lib Dem politician brave enough to stand up to all the sexist and pro-abuse members of the party goes to Kirsty Lord, councillor for Hassock and Burgess Hill. Lord writes: “I’m struggling with the responses to this. Yes, we’ve all done things we are not proud of, that are isolated incidents and that we learn from. But people, inc prominent Lib Dems, are praising your courage and candour for dealing with rumours about this” Lord further tweeted: “And I think are treating you differently to how they would a man or a non Lib Dem because they know you and I find that troubling. Their response isn’t yours to own, Layla, but I find it unsettling nonetheless”
Those who have followed this story closely may have noticed the omission in the above list of an endorsement of Moran’s abuse by Liberal democrat peer Baroness Meral Hussain-Ece. We’re not going to repeat Hussain-Ece’s comments becasue unlike Moran and da Costa she responded appropriately to our criticism and instead of pathetically blocking us on Twitter she actually deleted the tweet instead. Thus there’s a least some good news here and Hussain-Ece has made it clear that she has withdrawn her support for Moran’s abuse.
To summarise the above data we see fourteen Lib Dems supporting Moran’s statement and/or behaviour and two condemning it (or at least the sexism and double standards of those in support). So in other words Liberal democrat politicians are more likely to support a female abuser than condemn or criticise her.
The patterns in the support are very clear, with so many in the party describing Moran as “brave” or “courageous” and a smaller number instead preferring to pretend her violence is somehow “inspirational”. There’s also multiple Lib Dem politicians taking the unusual stance that domestic violence is a private matter, which is of course equally false. Such is the repeated use of the “brave” and “courageous” line, one has to think that a private memo went out to party members suggesting the use of such phrasing.
Moran’s loss of temper over nothing, her violence, victim-blaming, and “look what you made me do” stance and neither brave, inspiration nor courageous. issuing pre-emptive statements for the purpose of damage limitation isn’t brave either and it’s the antithesis of honesty and openness. A decent person would tweet about such an incident voluntarily when it happened, not because newspapers get hold of the story and they’d actually apologise too instead of victim blaming.
Even the least pathetic tweets supporting Moran fail to add caveats, condemn domestic violence, or hint at critiquing her statement or the appalling reaction and sexism from the bulk of party members.
It’s clear from our research that the vast majority of Lib Dem officials and politicians who’ve offered an opinion on Moran’s abuse are supportive of female abusers, and at best dismiss violence against men as of no importance. Of course, we should note that this doesn’t necessarily mean the grass-roots Lib Dems or Lib Dem voters necessarily have the same toxic and misandrist world-view, and a great many political parties out there are completely out of touch with supporters and the general public when it comes to a great many issues.
Moran is a violent and very childish politician, but she has at least done one useful thing as an MP and inadvertently raised awareness not just of the prevalence of violence against men, but the massive barriers male victims face, not merely by the general public, but particularly by so many elected officials and those seeking political office in future. This of course is an extremely serious matter, becasue it means potential lawmakers still have hoplessly outdated, unpleasant and misandrist views about vulnerable people in society whom they’re supposed to protect.
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