Labour’s Shadow Chancellor again refused to apologise today for repeating calls for a Tory Cabinet Minister to by lynched.
John McDonnell made the comments in 2014, when he said some activists in Liverpool questioned why Labour weren’t supporting “lynching” then-Employment Minister Esther McVey.
McDonnell claims he was not endorsing the suggestion, but less than a year later went on to claim McVey was a “stain on humanity”.
His comments have been criticised across the political divide, with Labour’s Jess Phillips branding them “utterly despicable”, while Tory Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom described them as “truly evil” and “utterly disgusting.”
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, McDonnell was asked whether he was quoting the call to lynch McVey “approvingly”.
He replied: “Of course I wasn’t.”
When asked if he would apologise to McVey, McDonnell said: “I said then I did not support what was happening.
“Of course I didn’t support that and it is for those people who made that statement if they wish to make that apology.
“Let me just say this, I made a statement in Parliament saying of course I don’t support this, I wish harm to nobody.”
McDonnell’s statement in Parliament was a response to a point of order raised by Tory MP Margot James a week after the comments were made in November 2014.
“Is it in order for a Labour MP to have joked about appalling death threats made against a female MP on Remembrance Sunday?” asked James.
McDonnell replied: “I thank her for raising it as it allows me the opportunity to put the matter straight. Various allegations have been made.
“Let me make it clear: I have never called for any harm to be done to any Member of this House or anyone else.
“I have reported statements that were made at a public meeting in the Wirral constituency.
“I did not agree with them, but I reported them.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked last week whether McDonnell was wrong to use such language.
He told ITV: “Well I would rather stick to where I disagree with somebody on their policies, I fundamentally disagree with Esther McVey and her approach towards inequality and the poor, and the worst off within our society and I will stick to that.”
Corbyn added: “It’s a basic in the Labour Party, you treat people with respect and treat each other with respect. I don’t do personal abuse of anybody and I don’t expect anybody else to do it towards any of our candidates or anyone else.