EXCL Jeremy Corbyn's political secretary said Labour leader wanted to phone Conor McGinn's dad

Posted On: 
22nd July 2016

A senior aide to Jeremy Corbyn said the Labour leader wanted to phone Conor McGinn's father to complain about an interview he had given to The House magazine, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Conor McGinn has accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to use his father to "bully" him
The House

Katy Clark, Mr Corbyn's political secretary, made the claim in a conversation with Chief Whip Rosie Winterton's office.

Mr McGinn, the MP for St. Helens North, today accused the Labour leader of trying to use his father - an ex-Sinn Féin councillor - to "bully" him.

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The furious row broke out last night after the shadow minister went on Twitter to lash out at Mr Corbyn.

In the House magazine interview two months ago, Mr McGinn accused left-wing politicians of "sneering" at the public and warned Mr Corbyn that Labour is losing touch with working class voters.

This morning, the Labour whip said: "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."

PoliticsHome can reveal that Ms Clark - who lost her seat as Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran at last year's election - was told by the Chief Whip's office that contacting Mr McGinn's father was not an appropriate thing for Mr Corbyn to do.

A spokesman for the Labour leader initially said Mr McGinn's claims were "untrue".

In a subsequent statement, he said: "Jeremy did not at any point threaten to call Conor's dad, nor did he call him."

However, they have not clarified whether he knew that Ms Clark was going to raise the idea with Ms Winterton.

A spokesman for the Chief Whip said: "We don't comment on private conversations between staff."

Mr Corbyn was asked to respond to the allegations by Sky News. He said: "I wish some of my colleagues would concentrate on political issues. I regret the language that has been used by all of them. I don’t do any abuse, I don’t do any bullying, I don’t allow it to be done in any of my campaigning teams."