Minister Says She Is A 'Big Fan' Of Lee Anderson Despite His Death Penalty Stance

Claire Coutinho said the Tory deputy chairman was a "good thing for the party" and had a "lot of things to offer".
Claire Coutinho praised Lee Anderson as someone who "speaks his mind".
Claire Coutinho praised Lee Anderson as someone who "speaks his mind".

The children’s minister has said she is a “big fan” of Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson despite disagreeing with his support for the death penalty.

Claire Coutinho said she didn’t back the return of capital punishment but that it was “really important” that there were “people with lots of different opinions” in the Conservative Party.

Anderson, a former Labour councillor who is now the Tory MP for Ashfield, was the most controversial appointment in Rishi Sunak’s mini-reshuffle earlier this week, when he was promoted to deputy party chairman.

He has previously been criticised for suggesting that nurses use foodbanks because there is “something wrong with their own finances” and for insisting that it is possible to cook a meal for 30p.

Anderson has generated further controversy following his interview with the Spectator, in which he said he would back a return to the death penalty because “nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed”.

He told the magazine that capital punishment has a “100% success rate.”

Anderson admitted that some of his colleagues find him “a little bit too divisive” but added: “I’m of the mind that half the population will hate you, whatever colour you wear.”

The death penalty for murder in the UK was outlawed permanently in 1969, with it totally abolished for all crimes in 1998.

The UK is also a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits the restoration of the death penalty.

Coutinho said that while she didn’t “agree with Lee all time”, she did support him and “really, really liked” him.

She told Nick Ferrari on LBC: “What I think people respond to when it comes to Lee is he does speak his mind.

“And I think it’s really important that we have people who have lots of different opinions, and that’s one of the things I liked about the Conservative Party, frankly, because we are very good at living alongside each other even when we disagree.

“We know that it takes a broad range of viewpoints to make up a society and we can still get along, so I’m a big fan of Lee and I think he’s a very good thing for the party.”

Coutino was reminded of some of Anderson’s other controversial comments — including that nuisance social council tenants should be forced to live in tents and pick vegetables.

“Is that someone you welcome in a senior role in your party?” Ferrari asked.

Coutino replied: “Yes, like I said, I don’t know if you agree with every single thing Lee has said but he’s also someone who used to be a miner, he was a single dad for 17 years, he sold his car to feed his kids.

“He’s got a lot of things to offer.”


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