John McDonnell condemned after refusing to apologise for Esther McVey 'lynching' comment
John McDonnell was today accused of linking violence and politics after he refused to apologise for once repeating calls for former Tory minister Esther McVey to be "lynched".
The Shadow Chancellor also described Ms McVey as a "stain on humanity" during a rant in 2014.
Appearing on ITV's Peston on Sunday programme this morning, Mr McDonnell refused to apologise for the remarks, saying voters wanted honesty rather than spin from their politicians.
Invited to pull back on the comments today, an unrepentant Mr McDonnell said: “I was angry. Sometimes you need to express honest anger.”
He added: “That was about what this last government was doing to people with disables and it was appalling, to be frank. Sometimes it is better to be honest with people about how you feel.
“At times, in parliament in particular, it means using strong language. But actually, if it reflects your honest views it's better to be honest than it is to be deceptive in any way.”
Mr McDonnell went on that it was important to express views “honestly” and “fairly”, since the public had “had enough of spin and triangulation”.
Asked by Sky News later if it was right to say Ms McVey was a "stain on humanity", Mr McDonnell said: "Yes, I do." But he maintained the "lynching" comment was a quote from activists.
But Ms McVey - who was also appearing on the show - launched her own furious attack on Mr McDonnell.
She said: "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.
"This is the sort of action that he is encouraging."
Mr McDonnell was also condemned by his Labour colleagues Yvette Cooper and Tristram Hunt, who said he should apologise.
Mr McDonnell had reportedly said at the time: “I was up in Liverpool a fortnight ago where Alec McFadden, one of our (union) organisers, launched the Sack Esther McVey Day on her birthday.
“I spoke at a packed public meeting ... there was a whole group in the audience that completely kicked off quite critical of the whole concept, because they were arguing ‘Why we are sacking her. Why aren’t we lynching the bastard?’”