Deputy Labour leader labels Tories ‘scum’ – despite calling for end of personal attacks

Angela Rayner 'right to be strong' in opposing Tories says Corbyn

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In a nightmare start to Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, he was forced to distance himself from Angela Rayner’s abusive outburst at the weekend. Her offensive comments stand in stark contrast to remarks made two years when she called for “kinder” politics during Labour feuds. He said he would not use similar language and would be “speaking to Angela later”. But he stopped short of asking her to withdraw the slur.

His party faced accusations of stoking division and creating a “toxic political culture”. Ms Rayner delivered her tirade at a rally for Labour ­activists late on Saturday.

She said: “I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, and I bet you lot are too. We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum – homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile of banana republic, Etonian, piece of scum – and I held back a little – that I have ever seen in my life.”

Two years earlier she told the Labour List website: “We have to stop the personal attacks and be kinder to each other.” Asked about her comments yesterday, she declined to withdraw them.

She told host Trevor Phillips on Sky News she would only apologise if Boris Johnson said sorry for various “offensive” remarks made during his career.

“If he wants to remove himself from those comments – the racist, misogynistic, homophobic comments that he’s made – they are documented – very offensive comments, then I will apologise to him personally for calling him scum. If he wants to say he apologises and doesn’t mean the comments that he’s made in the past, I will happily ­
do that.

”Tory co-chairman Oliver Dowden said: “Labour are stoking the language of insult and division. Does Keir Starmer endorse his deputy’s language? While we’re getting on with the job, Labour are playing politics.”

Tory MP Dehenna Davison: “Rayner should apologise for ­her part in creating this toxic political culture.”

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir seemed uncomfortable, saying: “Angela said those words, she takes a different approach to me, we have different approaches to how we get our messages across. It’s not language that I would have used.”

Yesterday Sir Keir’s watered-down party reforms squeezed through with a narrow win. Amid heckling and booing from ­members, plans to alter Labour leadership voting were approved.


Comment by Oliver Dowden

All that language has to stop…we all have a responsibility to look at making sure our discourse and disagreements are done in a respectful way.”

Not my words but those of Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, in 2019. And I wholeheartedly agree with her.

But, sadly, Angela refused to take her own advice when she described Conservatives as “scum” at Labour’s conference at the weekend.

Nearly 14 million people voted for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives at the last General Election and they are certainly not “scum”. Neither is anyone else who voted for other parties.

Our politics has become more toxic and we need to do all we can, across all parties, to drive it out.

One of my female colleagues recently quit Twitter because of harassment and abuse. Last week a female Labour MP said she wouldn’t attend her own party’s conference because of safety fears.

Just at the very time we should be coming together to rebuild after Covid, comments like this push our politics in the opposite direction.

Yesterday Angela Rayner had the chance to apologise for her comments – and she refused.

Of course this isn’t an isolated incident. Today’s Labour Party exudes a sense of looking down on people who believe in this country, including the many millions who voted Conservative at the last election.

While Conservatives, generally, respectfully disagree with their opponents, it is a sad fact that for all the Left’s talk about kindness and compassion, they tend to produce the worst abuse and intolerance of other views.

It is in hardline elements of the Labour Party that you find the true nasty party. And in her ambitions to take over from Keir Starmer, Ms Rayner regrettably appears to be playing to that crowd.

Angela Rayner must reflect and apologise. If she doesn’t, then her message to anyone who voted Conservative is loud and clear.

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