People have asked a lot in the last 24 hours why so many party members are so hard on Sarah Teather. And she does seem to be getting it in the neck an awful lot.
Of course, announcing you’re not standing again in protest against your party leader a week before conference, is never going to make you popular.
Claiming you’re resigning over issues of social justice when you’ve just voted against Same Sex Marriage is also likely to cause some considerable complaint.
And deciding you’re happy to continue earning your full salary and taking the whip of a party you no longer feel you represent is also likely to lead to a certain amount of comment.
Never the less there seems a lot of suggestion that Sarah is receiving more than her fair share of comment because she is a woman.
Now, there is undoubtably a huge issue with misogyny on the web generally, and in social media in particular. The recent abuse of Caitlin Moran, Grace Dent, Caroline Criado-Perez and others is both shameful and shaming.
And I suspect some of the opprobrium being heaped on Sarah will have a tad of the sexist about it.
It’s also true that the party clearly does have a ‘woman’ issue, with huge under representation in the Commons at every level.
But surely the reason why Sarah is being so criticized is not because she is a woman – but because she is a former government minister.
A Minister who voted time and time again for government policy, not raising any issues with the leadership or the party’s actions in government publicly until she had been removed from office.
The party respects a rebel backbencher, who gives up any hope of position or authority in order to represent what they believe (especially if those votes are in line with party policy and conference motions, when the parliamentarians appear to be doing the opposite).
But Sarah was always going to struggle when, having left government, she suddenly wanted to play the rebel card.
I am sure her views now expressed are sincere and well meant.
But the time to express them was when resigning as a Minister – not shortly after leaving office, not of her own volition.
Finally, let’s not forget, we were told Sarah was leaving government because she wanted to spend more time fighting for her seat.
Looks a little ironic now.
And I think THAT’s why Sarah is getting what is, perhaps, more than her fair share of abuse.
For a glance at the other side of the Sarah Teather opinion coin, see this post from Gareth Epps