Owen Smith Sparks 'Sexism' Backlash For Defending Nicola Sturgeon Joke Tweet As ‘Banter’

Never, ever defend a comment as just 'banter'.
<strong>Owen Smith defence of a 'joke' tweet about Nicola Sturgeon only riled critics further</strong>
Owen Smith defence of a 'joke' tweet about Nicola Sturgeon only riled critics further
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Owen Smith’s attempted defence of a joke criticised for being “sexist” has only managed to inflame tempers further after he dismissed the tweet as “political banter”.

The Labour leadership hopeful was trying to take the heat out of attacks on a social media post he made earlier this year.

Smith posted a tweet in April derided as “sexist” that suggested Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should be quiet.

It was sent before Smith was thrust into the limelight as Jeremy Corbyn’s rival in the Labour leadership race, but recirculated late last week.

Smith today defended the comment, though, telling Politics.co.uk that he did not have a problem with women and that it was simply “political banter”.

“It was a joke tweet,” he said.

“I don’t think it was in any way meant to be intended in any way other than that. No I don’t regret it. I just think it was a bit of political banter during an election contest.”

But the excuse only riled his critics more, with many piling in over his use of the word “banter”.

Concerns were also raised about Smith’s use of language with a “tinge of violence”, following similar criticism when he said he wanted to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”.

The latest row comes after controversy over other incidents to do with Smith’s choice of words.

He admitted last week to planning on turning down his “colourful language” after claims he suggested Corbyn was a “lunatic”, an allegation he denies.

In 2010, the year he was elected to Parliament, Smith also apologised for comparing the Conservatives planned public spending cuts to domestic violence.