Conor McGinn MP: I can no longer tolerate Jeremy Corbyn's hypocrisy

Posted On: 
22nd July 2016

In a statement sent to PoliticsHome, Labour MP Conor McGinn accuses Jeremy Corbyn of trying to "bully him into submission"

Conor McGinn addresses a public forumin January concerning the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland
PA Images

I have known Jeremy for over ten years and before becoming the MP for St Helens North I worked closely with him as a Labour activist in his constituency.

When Jeremy was elected leader of the Labour Party last September, I agreed to serve on his frontbench as a Whip out of respect for his mandate, a sense of duty to the party and loyalty to the warm personal relationship we had always enjoyed.

Shadow minister Conor McGinn: Jeremy Corbyn tried to use my dad to bully me

In May, during an interview with The House Magazine, I outlined my views on a range of issues, including the need for Labour to reengage with our working class base. I mentioned Jeremy in this interview only once, when I respectfully suggested that he had a challenge to reach out beyond his comfort zone and his own constituency to traditional Labour voters across the country.

I was on a Parliamentary delegation to Washington DC when this interview was published. Several news outlets picked up on my remarks and focussed on what I said about Jeremy.

I was informed during a telephone call from the Whips Office that Jeremy, on seeing these news reports, had initially asked for my resignation and then considered sacking me, but subsequently reconsidered and through his media spokesperson he wanted me to apologise and retract my comments. I refused to do this. I did, however, text Jeremy to make clear that there was no offence intended in what I said, and reiterated that our friendship was important to me and that I was proud of the campaigning we had done together. I asked to meet him on my return to Parliament.

The following week, on my return, I again asked to meet Jeremy. I received no response. I was then informed by colleagues in the Whips Office of something that I have not made public until now, frankly because I find it shocking and embarrassing, and almost unbelievable.

It transpired that Jeremy, in deliberations about how to respond to my interview, had said that he intended to ring my father to discuss it with him and ask him to speak to me about it. The Leader of the Labour Party was proposing to address an issue with one of his own MPs by ringing his Dad. Jeremy does not know my father so I can only presume that because of the much-publicised fact that my father was a Sinn Féin councillor, Jeremy felt that they would share a political affinity and was proposing to use that to ask my father to apply pressure on me. Thankfully, others dissuaded Jeremy from taking this course of action. The call was not made, and it would not have been well received.

In the last fortnight, Jeremy's supporters have subjected me and other Labour MPs to a torrent of abuse and threats. In my constituency, a group of people gained access to my shared office building under false pretences and filmed themselves protesting outside the door of my office, in an incident that has been reported to the police. They threatened to disrupt my surgeries and events I was attending, requiring me to have a police presence at those last weekend.

Last week, a Twitter account using the name Frank Ryan posted a privately-taken picture of Jeremy and his legal team adding "with JC and the core team". The same account subsequently posted late on Saturday night that I was a "traitor" and no longer welcome in my home village of Camlough, county Armagh. To date, I have not had any answer from Jeremy about his relationship with this person or an explanation about how s/he obtained the photograph.

When I watched Jeremy's interview on Newsnight last night, I am afraid I could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy of him talking about a kinder, gentler politics when I knew for a fact that he had proposed using my family against me in an attempt to bully me in to submission because he didn't like something I said. That is why I have reluctantly and sadly chosen to make this information public now.