General Election 2019: Scottish Labour drops "terf image" candidate

Scottish Labour has deselected its candidate who was due to stand against SNP MP Joanna Cherry at the general election.
Scottish Labour has deselected its candidate who was due to stand against SNP MP Joanna Cherry at the general election.
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The Scottish Labour candidate who posted a controversial image on Twitter involving her SNP rival has been dropped by the party.

Frances Hoole, a care and support worker, had been selected to stand as the Labour candidate in the General Election in the Edinburgh South West constituency, attempting to unseat incumbent MP Joanna Cherry.

However last week Ms Hoole, who has been part of Labour's Jo Cox leadership programme, posted an image on Twitter in which she and Ms Cherry had been photo-shopped, with the caption “Bang! And the terf is gone”.

TERF, an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, is widely considered to be an insult by many women campaigning for sex-based rights. The image sparked fury on social media with claims it was a threat against Ms Cherry.

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry calls for Labour candidate to apologise for sharing ‘TERF’ image

The Scotsman understands Ms Hoole was interviewed by Scottish Labour's Scottish Executive Committee yesterday, and in light of the tweet a decision was made to remove her as the candidate. The party is now looking for a replacement

While Ms Hoole deleted the image, on Twitter, at the time she said: “I’m standing against 2 people in Edinburgh South West who have been completely complicit in this conversation becoming an upsetting reality. Joanna for SNP + Susan for the Tory’s. It’s a downward spiral + it always was. Here’s to them both tasting the rainbow on 12th December.”

Joanna Cherry shared the image, tweeting: “Earlier this year I received a death threat & a storm of misogynistic abuse for defending #womensrights. The @scottishlabour candidate standing against me in #EdinburghSouthWest thinks it’s funny. I hope she will apologise & engage in respectful debate #GE19.”

Hoole, a graduate of Labour's Jo Cox leadership programme, then claimed she didn’t “perceive” the image as a threat.

She said: “You’re not defending women’s rights unless you defend trans rights. Please respect what you are being told by advocacy groups. You should never receive abuse or threats. Not from me or anyone else.

“I didn’t perceive this as a threat so I apologise I didn’t see it that way.”

A Scottish Labour source said: "Frances is gone. She is young, and possibly was naive, but the toxic debate around these issues meant the posting of that image could not just be overlooked. We now have to find someone else to stand."

Ms Hoole told the Edinburgh Evening News she accepted it was right for her to stand down.

She said: "I am genuinely really sorry I posted it. I'm sorry about the violent content.

"Obviously it's a controversial subject - not the violence, I'm completely explicit about that being wrong - but the subject attached to it has got confused in the issue.

"I apologised about the actual content of the meme. It was silly, I posted it without looking very hard at it."

And she said if she continued as candidate the issue would not go away.

"It's too big. I don't think it would do any good for it continuing to be brought up.

"The issue is more important than the mistake I've made.

"I think it would follow me. The issue is more important than spending the rest of the campaign defending a stupid emem I shouldn't have done.

"I don't want to continue with a campaign where I'm just talking about a picture instead of what's going on. That's a waste of everyone's time."

But she said she would remain active. "I will be out supporting the next candidate."

Ms Cherry responded: "While it took time for Labour to act - they have reached the right decision in sacking their election candidate. Her abusive behaviour fell far short of what the public would expect of someone wishing to represent the people of Edinburgh South West.

"Labour has no prospect of winning here. This seat is a straight contest between a pro-Brexit Tory and the SNP. I will continue to work hard and fight for my constituents to stop Boris Johnson, stop Brexit and protect Scotland's right to choose its own future"

A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said they did not comment on candidate selection procedures.