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Jess Phillips: Social media giants must prevent hate preachers from profiting

The Labour MP said there must be a code of conduct for political candidates after a Ukip hopeful said he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ her.

Jess Phillips speaking at the Progress annual conference at the TUC Congress Centre in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Jess Phillips speaking at the Progress annual conference at the TUC Congress Centre in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Labour MP Jess Phillips has called for social media companies to stop hate preachers from profiting as she criticised YouTube’s handling of a Ukip candidate under investigation over rape comments.

Police are investigating MEP candidate Carl Benjamin after he said he “wouldn’t even rape” the Birmingham Yardley MP, before suggesting on YouTube that “with enough pressure I might cave”.

Ms Phillips expressed her shock on Saturday that such discussions were present in UK politics, with parties previously showing the “decency” not to field candidates “like him”.

She said there must be a “code of conduct” which would see parties sanctioned if candidates fall foul of the rules.

She told the Press Association: “I would back something that stopped somebody as part of normal political discourse talking about raping another politician, yes.”

Without giving explicit backing, Ms Phillips signalled support for a Fawcett Society petition calling for a lifetime ban from standing for elected office for anyone who promotes rape or violence.

But she also called for Silicon Valley giants to show “much greater responsibility”, citing Mr Benjamin making “some astronomical figure being a hate preacher”.

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Ukip election candidate Carl Benjamin (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“The man who has been basically a hate preacher and has targeted me for years – and not just me, he has done it to other women, too – only yesterday was he demonetised on YouTube,” she said.

“If you’re neutral in the face of fascism then you’re an appeaser, so yes, they’ve got to do much, much more.”

West Midlands Police are investigating Mr Benjamin’s comments “to establish if an offence has taken place”.

YouTube confirmed on Friday that Mr Benjamin had been suspended from profiting from his Sargon of Akkad channel, which has nearly one million subscribers.

In the video, the Ukip candidate in the South West listed a series of spoof policies, before adding: “There’s been an awful lot of talk about whether I would or wouldn’t rape Jess Phillips.

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Ms Phillips said hate preachers had made ‘astronomical sums’ (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“I’ve been in a lot of trouble for my hardline stance of not even raping her. I suppose with enough pressure I might cave. But let’s be honest, nobody’s got that much beer.”

Ms Phillips addressed an audience at the annual conference for centre-left Labour pressure group Progress in London on Saturday.

In her speech, she blamed people across the political spectrum for a rise in abuse aimed at MPs, saying: “Ninety per cent of the hatred I have received this week was from the left. We should be very, very worried.”

She called for Labour to act progressively and not to attempt to play the Tories at their own game.

“We have a real opportunity to be the solution that the country needs and we will never, ever do it if what we do is, instead of seeking to progress, is that we play in the Conservatives’ territory and just seek to conserve and restore,” she said.

PA

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