SUPPORTERS of a councillor suspended after an IRA Facebook row have set up an online campaign group – on the same website that landed her in trouble.
As reported in the Echo, Hetton councillor Florence Anderson was suspended from the Labour Party and is facing calls to resign after she “liked” a Facebook page calling for the IRA to bomb a Tory Party conference.
It was the second time Coun Anderson ended up in hot water over a gaffe on the social networking site.
In 2010 she made national headlines after posting she hoped Margaret Thatcher “burns in hell” while the former PM was ill in hospital.
Now 200 people have set up a “Click like to support Florence Anderson” Facebook group in support of the councillor, a former deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, and hit out at the Labour Party.
Left-wing Labour MP and former party leader contender John McDonnell is among those to have joined the group.
The group’s founders posted a statement they said was from Coun Anderson thanking people for their support.
It reads: “I cannot believe that a casual ‘like’ on an anti-Tory post – I do many of them – made on July 25 2010 which, in all honesty, I could not even remember, can now be used with such vehemence against me.
“All my life and my 40 years in the Labour Party have been spent striving for socialism, peace, justice and equality. I have opposed war and violence of thought or deed – I have never advocated bombings or assassinations.
“My ‘crime’ has been to click a ‘Like’ button on something ‘tongue-n-cheek’ and this witch-hunt and harassment is the result.
“As ever, ‘self-confessed socialist’ and Newcastle United supporter is attached to me by certain newspapers – yes these ‘charges’ I admit but ‘terrorism’ no.”
The Echo has tried several times to contact Coun Anderson, but she has not been available for comment.
Sunderland City Council has not received any complaints about Coun Anderson.
Other members of the group include Sunderland Labour Party activist Bob Price, prominent Greens Shirley Ford and Jack McGlen, Sunderland Against the Cuts organiser Gary Duncan and Luna17 blogger Alex Snowdon.
Both Mr Snowdon and Mr Duncan were themselves expelled from their own party – the Socialist Worker Party (SWP) – over internal differences.
Mr Duncan said: “I think we should spare a thought for how Florence will be feeling towards her own party at the moment.
“I know what it’s like to feel the wrath of a party leadership that turns against you. I can honestly say that my expulsion from the SWP was one of the most devastating, demoralising and depressing events of my life and it took some time to get over.”
Coun Anderson, who led the Eppleton Area Miners’ Wives Support Group during the strikes of 1984, is also among members of the group.
On Sunderland City Council she has chaired a number of committees and is the only woman ever to have served as deputy leader of the authority.
Her Facebook page lists revolutionary Che Guevara, former Cuban president Fidel Castro and her father as inspirational people in her life.