Labour candidate in Salvation Army ‘male Christian’ insult

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by G.A.Ponsonby

A Labour candidate in the Holyrood election has become the first to fall foul of the ‘curse of twitter’ after a message attacking the Salvation Army appeared on his twitter account.

Drew Smith, who is the Labour list candidate for Glasgow, posted a message questioning whether women who were the victims of sexual abuse could trust male members of the volunteer organisation for help.

The message was originally posted by former Labour MP Vera Baird on Wednesday and was then retweeted by the Scottish Labour candidate within an hour.

The message read: “Abysmal decision to give Sally Army Eaves contract to help trafficked women.  If u were sexually abused wld u go to male Christian in uniform?” and appeared to imply that women would not seek help from ‘uniformed male Christians’.

The £6 million contract was awarded to the Salvation Army last week, the organisation will run the Poppy Project services set up to help victims of sexual trafficking.

The Salvation Army’s Anti-Human Trafficking Response Co-ordinator, Major Anne Read, sought to reassure abuse victims and insisted the organisation would be available to offer help regardless of sexuality.

Major Read said: “The Salvation Army is pleased to have been awarded the government’s Anti-Human Trafficking Contract for Victim Support and we look forward to working closely with other organisations who are committed to help alleviate the suffering of people who have been trafficked into sexual exploitation and forced labour.

“The Salvation Army has a long history of working with people who are vulnerable and marginalised across the world, including people who find themselves the victims of trafficking. We offer unconditional assistance and support regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality.”

Major Read added: “However, we believe we have more to bring to the wider work against human trafficking and under the terms of the contract, the Salvation Army will work closely with partners and agencies which have specialist knowledge and services in different fields, to ensure that every person who is identified as trafficked will receive the most appropriate support.”

Drew Smith is the Secretary of Glasgow North Constituency Labour Party and is a former assistant to Labour’s Pauline McNeil.

Last year Labour’s Stuart Mr MacLennan was sacked as the General Election candidate for Moray after posting derogatory comments about the elderly, women, minorities and celebrities.