By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail reports today how the Labour whip, Lyn Brown, attacked blind talkSPORT journalist Sean Dilley:
"A Labour whip unleashed a four-letter tirade at a blind man for getting in her way during a fraught exchange in the Houses of Parliament.
Lyn Brown, the burly MP for West Ham, barged into the back of Talksport political editor Sean Dilley, and his golden retriever guide dog, as he was walking in a corridor towards Portcullis House.
Witnesses were shocked to see a clearly stressed Miss Brown bulldoze into the back of Mr Dilley before overtaking him, shouting: 'For ****'s sake, move out of my ******* way.'"
"The journalist asked her to be more careful as he did not want to crash into his guide dog, Chip.
Miss Brown then sniped back: 'You are such a rude ******* man, you just walked right in front of me.'
One source said a frustrated Mr Dilley then replied: 'I'm blind, you stupid woman.' "
It gets worse:
"He then demanded to know Miss Brown's name, as he could not see who had bumped into him, but Miss Brown replied: 'I am not giving it to you, **** off.'
Mr Dilley threatened to ask security guards to identify her, to which Miss Brown replied: 'You just do that and see what happens.'
She was pursued by Commons security and did not stop, saying: 'You are harassing me, leave me alone.'"
And the final result?
"Miss Brown was hauled before her boss, chief whip Rosie Winterton, for a dressing down. The Mail understands she was made to issue an apology to Mr Dilley.
A Labour source said: 'There has been a misunderstanding. Lyn has apologised. They now both consider the matter to be over.'"
One of the striking things about this incident is that the journalist, Dilley, was simply walking through Parliament, which is obviously an extremely regular thing for hundreds and hundreds of people to do every day – what if Miss Brown's anger had been vented at someone unable to handle themselves – perhaps a young intern, or a shy researcher? Incidents like this, where Members lash out, will have been happening for some time. It is troubling to consider how many people are made to feel unwelcome and upset by outbursts like those reported above.
Another striking thing is how Miss Brown felt able to just sidestep Commons security and attempted to simply escape from the situation.
Now, two questions come to mind: Is the chief whip forcing Miss Brown to apologise good enough? Should the Speaker name (a very public suspension from the House, without pay) Members who behave in this way?