Conor McGinn: Jeremy Corbyn tries to silence 'robust, working class voices'
Conor McGinn has accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to silence "robust, working class voices" as the bitter feud between the senior Labour figures erupted again.
The party whip also accused Mr Corbyn and his office of "telling lies" after they denied the party leader threatened to contact Mr McGinn's father about an interview he gave to The House magazine.
In it, the St. Helens North MP said the Labour leader needed to do more to reach out to voters across the country.
Mr Corbyn responded by demanding an apology from Mr McGinn, but has denied he suggested contacting the shadow minister's father, a former Sinn Fein councillor, to discuss it.
Appearing on Radio 4's Westminster Hour last night, Mr McGinn said: "Well, they’re telling lies, that’s the first thing. But the truth is fear and intimidation are the last two words I think of when I think of Jeremy Corbyn and the personal relationship and the friendship that I’ve had with him over the last ten years."
He added: "We have to put this in context, because bizarre and embarrassing as it sounds, the context is that where Jeremy and some of the people around him perceive people as a threat, because for example, they’re robust, working-class voices like Michael Dugher or Pat McFadden, or strong women like Heidi Alexander and Lilian Greenwood, there was a deliberate attempt to undermine them.
"So I made an article that posed challenges for the Labour party. In a 3,000 word interview, I mentioned Jeremy once in a very respectful way, and his reaction, what he thought would be appropriate political management would be to ring my dad.
"Bizarre as that sounds, on the last day before recess - when I more or less turned the lights out in the Palace of Westminster as the duty whip who was there until the House rose - I got back to my constituency to see Jeremy on Newsnight talking about kinder, gentler politics and how it was unacceptable to abuse or use people’s parties, when in fact the modus operandi of what he and the people around him were trying to do involving my family was to isolate and ostracise me from them and from the community that I’m very proud to come from, which is an Irish nationalist community, in South Armagh."
Despite the ill-feeling between him and his leader, Mr McGinn - who is backing Owen Smith in the Labour leadership race - said he intended to continue working as a Labour whip.
He said: "I serve at the pleasure of the Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton. Before recess, I was working on the Finance Bill, holding the Government to account, along with colleagues on the frontbench and the backbenches. And in committee, when we go back on 5 September, we’ll be in committee stage on the floor of the House again, and unless I hear otherwise, I will be presenting myself for duty on Monday afternoon.
"We have a duty to the parliamentary party, and hopefully we retain the confidence of the parliamentary party - unlike Jeremy - and we have a special responsibility to them."