UK Politics

Simon Danczuk speaks of 'distress' over Syria death threat

Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale Image copyright Labour Party

Labour MP Simon Danczuk has spoken of his distress over an apparent death threat he received online after he voted in favour of Syria air strikes.

The Rochdale MP said he considered the message posted on Facebook, and calls made to his constituency office, serious enough to report it to police.

Labour MP Neil Coyle has also complained to police about an alleged death threat he received on Twitter.

The Metropolitan Police said an investigation had been launched.

A spokesman said the Met's Specialist Operations, which is responsible for the protection of public officials, had taken on the investigation because of "its established relationship with the Palace of Westminster".


Mr Danczuk said his staff received more than 100 calls from people complaining about his decision to vote for air strikes, and some of these were also threatening.

He said comments from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and former London mayor Ken Livingstone had "given licence" to people at grassroots level to intimidate MPs who voted for airstrikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria.

"The leadership hasn't got a grip on the situation - they are effectively encouraging it," he said.

"And it is creating a real divide within the party and when it gets to the stage where Members of Parliament's lives and are being threatened I think it is frankly unacceptable."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The government won the vote over military action in Syria by 397 votes to 223

He pointed to comments from Mr McDonnell who had said he would "resolve" his differences with Mr Danczuk, and Mr Corbyn who had said there would be "no hiding place" for Labour MPs after they were allowed a free vote on military action in Syria.

He said Mr Livingstone, who has come back under Mr Corbyn's leadership to be co-chair of the party's defence review, had suggested MPs who went against the Labour leader should be de-selected.

A senior Labour source told BBC News that Mr Danczuk's comments were "unsubstantiated".

"There is abuse on both sides and it needs to stop," he said.

There was a small number of people who could not accept the leadership result and they needed to move on, he added.

Mr McDonnell told the BBC the Labour leadership had "made it very, very clear, intimidation and threats to anyone from... anywhere in politics is unacceptable, simple as that".

"Simon's had some issues in recent years, we've all supported him all the way through it and we continue to do so," he added.

"I look upon him as an ally, someone we can work with and if he has concerns or anything like that they can always be resolved."

De-selection threat

On Friday, Mr Corbyn and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson sent an email to party members saying abuse and intimidation have no place in politics from "from whatever quarter" it comes.

The leadership has been accused of not doing enough to clamp down on personal abuse from left-wing activists.

Some MPs have claimed they were effectively being bullied to vote against the strikes, with threats of de-selection levelled at them.

While some of those who voted in favour were sent pictures of dead children by anti-war protesters and faced foul-mouthed abuse - others allegedly had pictures of severed heads pushed through their home letterboxes or had their offices barricaded by protesters.

A total of 66 Labour MPs sided with the government, which won by 397 votes to 223, after a 10-hour Commons debate on Wednesday.

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