John McDonnell says Chuka Umunna 'dogs' comment is 'grotesquely offensive'

Posted On: 
9th September 2018

John McDonnell has condemned Chuka Umunna after he called on Jeremy Corbyn to "call off the dogs" amid fresh Labour infighting.

John McDonnell has hit back at Chuka Umunna.
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor said his party colleague's remarks - which came after votes of no confidence in two centre-left MPs by Labour activists - were "grotesquely offensive.

In a speech to the Progress campaign group, Mr Umunna said: "My message to our leadership: it is within your power to stop this.

Chuka Umunna calls on Jeremy Corbyn to ‘call off the dogs’ amid Labour infighting

John McDonnell 'completely condemns' anti-Israel posters and says they must be removed

John McDonnell 'worried and saddened' over possible Labour splits

“So call off the dogs and get on with what my constituency, one of the most diverse communities in the nation, demands we do - without equivocation, fight this Tory Brexit.

"That is where all our efforts should be."

That led to a furious backlash from supporters of Mr Corbyn, who accused the former Shadow Business Secretary of literally describing Labour members as canines.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr McDonnell said "Our party members are not dogs. Our party members are human beings who joined the Labour party because they wanted to create a better society. They're not dogs. I find it grotesquely offensive that anybody, particularly a Labour MP, refers to our party members as dogs.

They are the people who go out and deliver the leaflets, who canvas, who get Labour MPs elected and who secure a Labour government that will transform the lives of our country.".

Addressing Mr Umunna directly, he added: "Stop throwing yourself in front of TV cameras, inventing stories and get out there and start campaigning for a Labour government. "


One of the MPs who faced a confidence vote, Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan, said the party was at risk of "tearing itself to pieces".

She said: "Labour needs to decide: it's either an aspiring party of government focused laser-like on the priorities of the British people - Brexit, an economy which works for everyone, and rebuilding our austerity-starved public services.

"Or it's a party fighting with itself about ideological purity, arguing with the Jewish community about what constitutes anti-Semitism, and going down a rabbit warren of deselection, purges and harassment. It can't be both.

"The Labour party is tearing itself to pieces and in the process it is tearing down the very people it needs the most."