Diane Abbott criticized after suggesting former military commander could not have been Bercow bullying victim – The Independent, Independent

Diane Abbott criticized after suggesting former military commander could not have been Bercow bullying victim – The Independent, Independent

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has been accused of a “ridiculous comment” after suggesting a former military commander could not have been a victim of bullying .


David Leakey , who served as Black Rod until , stood by his claims that former Commons speaker John Bercow “brutalized” staff after the ex-Tory MP dismissed them as “total and utter rubbish”.


Ms Abbott came to Mr Bercow’s defense, writing on Twitter: “Allegations come from former official official David Leakey. He had been a Lieutenant General who served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Bosnia. But claims he was bullied (i.e. intimidated and coerced) by John Bercow . Unlikely. ”


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Her comments received an immediate backlash, including from Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union for senior civil servants.


Mr Penman tweeted: “Indeed Diane – faced with an abusive boss, we often advise members to deploy military self-defense tactics. What a ridiculous comment from an experienced MP, demonstrating blind political partisanship and a complete failure to understand how power is abused in the workplace. ”


As the furore continued, Ms Abbott’s tweet was deleted. A senior spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn declined to say whether the Labor leader would condemn the tweet, but added: “I think Jeremy would agree that all allegations of bullying and harassment, whatever the workplace, should always be investigated under robust procedures and that should take place whatever the circumstances.


“If Diane deleted her tweet, that probably indicated that she had concerns it might be misinterpreted and she thought better of it.”


The spokesperson declined to confirm whether Mr Corbyn had nominated Mr Bercow for a peerage, but revealed that the Labor leader insists on all those he puts forward for elevation make a commitment to support the abolition of the Upper House.


Isabel Hardman , the assistant editor of (The Spectator) and presenter of Radio 4’s Week in Westminster, wrote: “This is staggeringly disrespectful to all victims of abuse and coercion.


               Former Black Rod David Leakey (left) and former House of Commons speaker John Bercow (right) in the central lobby in the Palace of Westminster in 2019. (AFP / Getty Images)       


“If Diane genuinely thinks that to be a victim of bullying or abuse you have to be obviously a bit weak, then she need to start again with understanding these things.”



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Mr Bercow has faced fresh (claims of bullying) as he continues to seek the peerage that is usually automatically given to speakers once they leave the chair, as he did at the end of October.


Lieutenant General Leakey is among those who said they would hand dossiers to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards detailing allegations against Mr Bercow .


He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program it would be “A scandal parliament would struggle to live down” if Mr Bercow was given a peerage and added: “He would fly into a rage , the red mist would descend and he would be jumping up and down and bawling out, and shouting insults.


“He called me an antisemite once after being rather rude and insulting about my background, education and military career.”


Mr Bercow dismissed the claims, telling Sky News: “He is in absolutely no position whatsoever to comment on my relations With my parliamentary colleagues, of which he is completely and utterly ignorant.


“He doesn’t know what my relations were with my clerks. He has absolutely no intelligence on those matters whatsoever.


“What we have got here is somebody who left the House, who is thrashing about, desperate to remain relevant, popping up at every turn, trying to make himself seem very important, very center-stage, very at the heart of things in the way that I went about my work. ”


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