Jess Phillips condemns John McDonnell over ‘utterly despicable’ Esther McVey remarks

Posted On: 
26th September 2016

Jess Phillips has condemned John McDonnell’s “utterly despicable” comments about former Tory minister Esther McVey as she all-but branded the Shadow Chancellor a misogynist. 

Labour MP Jess Phillips
PA Images

Mr McDonnell described the former disabilities minister as “a stain on humanity” during an outburst in the Commons two years ago.

At a separate event, he also recounted a comment he had heard in which someone said Ms McVey should be "lynched" for her part in implementing welfare cuts.

Chuka Umunna: John McDonnell should apologise for 'atrocious' Esther McVey comments

John McDonnell condemned after refusing to apologise for Esther McVey 'lynching' comment

He sparked a row on Sunday when he refused to apologise for the remarks, saying voters wanted honesty rather than spin from their politicians.

Speaking to LBC radio at the Labour party conference in Liverpool today, Birmingham Yardley MP Ms Phillips, who has spoken before of her own experience receiving abuse over social media, took aim at the Shadow Chancellor.

“I think it’s utterly despicable,” she said. “I cannot imagine why he refuses to apologise. He made so many jokes in the past that he wanted to pass off as being jokes, he should definitely apologise.

“I dislike Esther McVey, I would never want to see her elected. I think she did some horrific things that have caused death and destruction to people in my constituency.

“However, it is not clever or big to say that she is a bitch or that she should be lynched. We cannot stand on platforms and say we don’t like it when people do this to politicians and then go and do it ourselves. It’s totally and utterly unacceptable.

"The targets of this vitriol, when it turns into violent vitriol, the 'We should kill Thatcher', 'We should lynch Esther McVey', the common denominator always seems to be one thing and that is that these people are women."

When asked whether she believed Mr McDonnell is a misogynist, she replied:

"Talking about lynching women and murdering women is classic misogyny.

"I invite him to show me how he's going to act against misogyny before I will condemn him. But yeah, it's not great is it?"

Mr McDonnell stood by his choice of words during TV interviews this morning, after Labour MPs Chuka Umunna and Yvette Cooper called on him to apologise.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: "You have to be honest in politics, you know, you have to express how you feel. And I'm angry. I'm angry still about the role Esther McVey and her government played. People should go out and meet the families I've met who've lost loved ones as a result of the cuts to disability benefits.

“Go and meet the family of Michael O'Sullivan... Those people who are asking me to apologise, go and meet those families and they'll see that I have got a justifiable anger and so have many other people."

But Mr McDonnell distanced himself from the use of the word 'lynched'.

"Of course, and I wasn't endorsing that; I was reporting what was being said. I wasn't endorsing it... I've always distanced myself from that sort of language, I don't believe in any threats of abuse or violence, I've said that continuously."

Appearing on the same show, Ms McVey launched a stinging attack on Mr McDonnell.

"This is a man who talks about the struggle through threats, intimidation and bullying and he doesn't just talk about it – he whips up that culture," she told ITV's Peston on Sunday.

"This is the sort of action that he is encouraging."