BREAKING: Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara has quit Labour
“I feel I have not been listened to”
Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara has announced tonight that he has left the Labour Party.
O'Mara was reinstated by Labour last week after being suspended by the party in October last year over sexist and homophobic comments that he made online in his twenties.
Writing an open letter to his constituents on his website, O'Mara has said that he has "not been listened to" by Labour, says that he has been made to feel like a "criminal", and asked for the media and public to be patient with him.
The full text of O'Mara's letter reads:
"It is with great sadness that today I have decided to announce my departure from the Labour Party with immediate effect. This decision has not been taken lightly but has been made following careful reflection of the decision to re-admit me back into the Labour Party following my suspension last October.
"I feel I have not been listened to or been given a fair investigation as I do not believe they considered my supporting evidence or got in touch with my witnesses. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the Labour Party no longer shares my commitment to the true definition of equality and compassion.
"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 believe I am the first autistic MP in our history, and this sadly got lost in the narrative of my interview with ITV earlier this week. I ask for everybody to go on the internet and read about autism, and about my other disabilities; clinical depression, cerebral palsy and anxiety. Then, with that reading and research, seek to exercise empathy over apathy and antipathy. All I’ve ever wanted to do in life is help those who suffer more than I do. I ask that you all share this ambition and concern with me.
"I also ask my constituents for understanding and sympathy during this challenging time. 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.
"Finally, I ask the media and general public to be patient with me. I am still the MP for Sheffield Hallam and I am still available to help my constituents with casework if you need my help. I might be leaving Labour but I am still at your side.
"I am not perfect, but nor are any of us. And that isn’t a bad thing. We all need to love ourselves and forgive our mistakes, foibles and flaws. Let us all instead celebrate our good qualities and strengths. This is what life experiences to date has taught me and I must share that with you all."
He will continue to sit in the House of Commons as an independent MP.