UK

Chris Williamson Refuses To Say If He Considers Himself More Like Hugo Chavez Or Tony Blair

'Can you really not answer that question?'

03/08/2017 10:12 BST

A shadow Home Office minister has refused to say if he regarded himself as being more similar to Hugo Chavez or Tony Blair.

Labour MP Chris Williamson was discussing unrest in Venezuela on BBC Newsnight when he was quizzed by host Evan Davies, who asked him: “Do you think you’re closer to Chavez and Maduro in your political philosophy or Tony Blair?”

Williamson laughed and said: “That’s an interesting question. 

“Look, I don’t like to characterise those things as a matter of left and right. Really to me it’s a matter of right and wrong.”

An incredulous Davies said: “Can you not answer that question, can you really not answer that question?”

Williamson responded: “Well let me answer it in my own way.

“I think the point is when a government is doing good things as they certainly were under Hugo Chavez, huge reduction in poverty, investment in healthcare and housing, and really improved the quality of life for ordinary people.

“That’s sure a good thing that we should celebrate, shouldn’t we?

“Trying to put up these false dichotomies about ‘are you closer to Blair or are you closer to Chavez and Maduro?’ is kind of an irrelevant question really.

“I think the important thing now is about how we get the sides back around the table and stop these protests going on on the streets.” 

His response prompted criticism from many...

His comments came as Jeremy Corbyn continued to facer pressure to speak out about the situation in Venezuela.

Corbyn, who admiration of the country under socialist leader Chavez, has previously given his backing to president Nicolas Maduro.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has called for the country’s government to respect human rights, the Guardian reported.

The United States imposed sanctions on Maduro on Monday, calling him a “dictator” for Sunday’s election of a constituent assembly that the opposition boycotted and denounced as an affront to democracy.

Venezuela’s president rejected accusations on Wednesday that his government inflated turnout figures from its constituent assembly election, branding them part of an effort to stain what he called a clean and transparent vote, Reuters reported.

The company that provides the country’s voting machines said that the government’s claim that 8.1 million votes were cast in Sunday’s poll overestimated the tally by least 1 million.