Labour frontbencher Jess Phillips has been accused of “racist and bullying behaviour” after getting into a row on social media with high-profile headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh.
Ms Birbalsingh, former chairwoman of the Social Mobility Commission and once dubbed “Britain’s strictest headteacher”, accused the Birmingham Yardley MP of seeking to “whip up a social media mob” against her on Twitter.
It came after Ms Birbalsingh, head of high-achieving Michaela Community School in Brent, said she inadvertently tweeted a picture of Tina Turner alongside her abusive former husband Ike Turner amid tributes to the late star.
Ms Phillips then tweeted “hold the line!”, adding: “Stay with me! Domestic abuse is never ok and we will defeat those who prop up the status quo…”.
Ms Birbalsingh wrote a four-page, open letter to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer featuring a series of tweets from Ms Phillips.
She wrote: “She inspired a vicious mob attack against me on Twitter on the evening of May 24 2023, and called into question my school’s safeguarding policies in a deliberative attempt to challenge my competence as a Headteacher.”
She also said that she would be reporting Ms Phillips to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
She wrote: “Ms Phillips does not know me. She has never met me. She has never visited my school. The school is not in her constituency. In her Shadow Ministerial role, she has not previously publicly accused any other school headteachers in this way.
“My view is that Ms Phillips’ extreme and unprompted hostility towards me is motivated by my race. By this I do not mean that she hates all people of colour.
“Her behaviour is a clear example of ‘unconscious bias’. I mean that she hates me, despite not knowing me, because she subscribes to the idea that Black and Asian individuals in public life owe a duty to voice opinions that match with a left-wing view of the world, or they are worthy of her contempt.”
Sky News has contacted Ms Phillips for her response.
Ms Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, is one of Labour’s most high-profile MPs and a regular user of Twitter.
Ms Birbalsingh, who recently spoke at the National Conservatism conference in London, said she was a “floating voter” and was not a member of the Conservative party.
But she claimed that her attendance at the right-wing event helped explain Ms Phillips’ anger towards her.
She said that Ms Phillips had brought Labour into “disrepute” and called on Sir Keir to take action.
“I would like assurances that regardless of what views are held by any member of your Shadow team or party, baseless and unfounded abuse will not be directed towards my school and me. This is entirely unacceptable,” she told the Labour leader.
Labour has not commented on the matter.