A Tory MP who remarked “vasectomies are free” in an online rant about “unemployed wasters” says he stands by his “broad point” about the benefit system.
Ben Bradley, the 28-year-old who was handed the job of reaching out to young people by Theresa May earlier this month, has posted a video on Facebook apologising for the “immature” language he used in blog posts in 2012.
Bradley, elected MP for Mansfield in the 2017 General Election, wrote six years ago that jobless benefit claimants having children “means it’s not long before we’re drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters that we pay to keep!”
He also wrote: “If you can’t afford them, stop having them! Vasectomies are free.”
Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs Cat Smith said Bradley’s words from 2012 were “repulsive”, while the Lib Dems’ Layla Moran said he should be ashamed of his “hugely misinformed and offensive comments”.
In a video on his Facebook page, Bradley said: “The language I used was immature, frankly”, adding it was “maybe deliberately provocative” in order to get readers of his blog.
He went on: “The broad issue I was trying to address was that there are a lot of people particularly in places like Mansfield who work very hard and have to make very difficult decisions financially about whether they can afford to have kids and I found that people find it frustrating when a small minority of people appear to take advantage of the benefits system.
“Now we have the benefits cap and the two child limit on child benefit and hopefully those things can’t happen anymore.”
Bradley added: “That was the broad point I was trying to make and I still stand by that.”
The MP also spoke out about the treatment he and his family had received from the press after the comments came to life, and also said he had been sent death threats and told to kill himself.
He warned that such extreme reactions would put people from his generation off entering politics in the future.
He said: “I’ve just been given this job trying to get more young people to engage with politics, but I’m from a generation that has grown up online and clearly has made mistakes online and they don’t go away, they can’t really be deleted, the truth is normal people make mistakes and more and more I think as my generation and younger get involved in politics, I think we’ll see this more and more.
“On the one hand people say politicians aren’t like me, they’re not normal people but normal people cock things up and my generation and younger, chances are they’ve cocked it up. I’ve cocked it up online for all to see.
He added: “I don’t know how I can go out there and tell young people that it’s a good thing to enter public life.”