Actor Tom Conti has said using the term "luvvies" to describe actors is as bad as using the N word.
The actor was responding to comments made by Labour councillor Theo Blackwell, who wrote to a local newspaper and called celebrities "livid luvvies" in reference to complaints, among them one by a few high-profile names including actress Emma Thompson, who had contested plans for a supermarket being built in north-west London.
The term has also been used to deride actors and media personalities who advocate for progressive causes, such as Britain taking in more refugees amid the migration crisis.
Conti has been joined in his protest of the term by fellow actors Peter Egan and Dame Janet Suzman, The Press Association reports.
He told the Daily Mail that using the word was "as abusive as "Yid" or "n*****" and it's a horrible expression".
He told the paper: "It's pejorative, denigrative and demeaning. I know a number of actors and certainly the actors with whom I have mixed over my entire life have been very bright people."
Some suggested Conti's claim didn't stack up under scrutiny.
While others singled out a comment made by Conti's fellow performer, Dame Janet.
A war of words has erupted between Conti, Egan, Dame Janet and Blackwell after he wrote a letter that ended with the comment: "Let's have less of the livid luvvie protests – not everyone locally thinks the same on all these issues."
Dame Janet hit back at Blackwell's comments in a letter to the New Camden Journal.
She wrote: "I am tempted to say less of the 'apoplectic apparatchik' as an apt riposte to his rather low 'livid luvvie' put-down.
"I refer of course to Cllr Theo Blackwell's letter about air pollution, among other topics (Less of the 'livid luvvie' protests..., May 12). As residents, whatever our profession, we have a right to voice an opinion."
Downton Abbey actor Egan is quoted as telling the Daily Mail: "If actors are voicing an opinion, in many cases a true opinion, the way to dismiss that is to downgrade them with a diminishing term for a name."
"It was the exactly the same in Vietnam. The American troops used to call the Viet Cong 'Charlie'. It's how you degrade your enemy.
"It's always been regarded by actors as an insulting term. People disregard important opinion by saying, 'It's the luvvies at it again'. It's a cheap way of scoring points. And I do find it offensive personally."
The stars successfully campaigned last year, alongside Thompson and the likes of James Corden, against plans for a Tesco to move to Belsize Park.
Blackwell commented on Twitter, posting an article link to Conti's comments in the Daily Mail, writing: "Conti: Luvvie as bad as the N word. Not really"