POLITICS
26/09/2021 11:55 BST | Updated 26/09/2021 12:39 BST

Labour Party Chair Slaps Down Tory Who Made Bomb Joke

Anneliese Dodds says MPs must be free from "fear of intimidation or violence".

Leon Neal via Getty Images

Anneliese Dodds has spoken out after it emerged a Tory MP joked about planting a bomb in her office.

The Labour Party chair told HuffPost UK that it was right that James Gray, the veteran MP for North Wiltshire, had apologised for the comments.

“I think it’s important that he has apologised,” she said.

“I would say that the broader issue of safety for everyone in politics is very important.

“I think all parliamentarians should be committed to ensuring that everyone can be involved in public life without any fear of intimidation or violence.”

In remarks leaked to the Mail on Sunday, Gray made the joke when prompted by a Tory colleague in a Whatsapp group.

Rob Largan, the Tory MP for High Peak, asked : “Does anybody know where Anneliese Dodds’ Commons office is based? I need to deliver something to her office.”

Gray replied: ‘A bomb, perhaps?’

Gray has since apologised for the comments, telling the Mail on Sunday: “It was a foolish remark. I meant no offence and hope none was taken.”

Dodds’ first run-in with Gray came when she called on the parliamentary standards commissioner to investigate him over claims he received money from a crisis-communications firm for coaching its clients to appear in front of Commons select committees.

Politicians’ use of language came under the spotlight on Sunday after Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was criticised for calling the Conservatives “scum” in a late-night event on the first day of Labour conference.

“I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines and I bet you lot are as well. We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile...Banana Republic, vile, nasty, Etonian...piece of scum.” she said.

Rayner defended her language, telling Sky News it had been used “post-watershed” and that it was her “street language”.

“Anyone who leaves children hungry during the pandemic and can give billions of pounds to their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy,” she said.

“Now that is a phrase, and let me contextualise it, it’s a phrase that you would hear very often in northern working class towns that we’d even say it jovially to other people. 

“We say it’s a scummy thing to do. And that to me is my street language as you would say - about actually it’s pretty appalling that people think that’s okay to do.”