McDonnell defends 'honest anger' after McVey comments row


Labour's John McDonnell has defended his description of a Tory former minister as "stain on humanity" by insisting he was expressing "honest anger".

Esther McVey sat on and watched as the shadow chancellor said voters were fed up of spin and wanted politicians who "speak the truth".

Mr McDonnell had also talked about calls for the former disabilities minister to be lynched when he made the attack during a comedy night in 2014.

He told ITV's Peston on Sunday that he had sometimes "gone too far" in criticism of opponents but insisted it was better to be honest about his views.

He said: "I was angry. Sometimes you need to express honest anger and that was about what this last government was doing to people with disabilities.

"It was appalling, to be frank, and sometimes it is better to be honest about how you feel.

"At times, in Parliament in particular, it means using strong language but, actually, if it reflects your honest views, I think it is better to be honest than it is to be in any way deceptive.

"I think it is about making sure you express your views honestly and fairly as well, that's the most important thing.

"People have had enough of spin and triangulation. What they want is politicians who speak the truth."

Ms McVey, who lost her Wirral West seat at the 2015 general election, said Mr McDonnell "whips up" a culture of bullying and intimidation.

She told the programme: "When we look at John McDonnell and what he's said in the past, whether it's lynching me, whether it was assassinating Margaret Thatcher, whether it's honouring the IRA, whether he's talking about his MPs expletive useless, this is a man who links violence with politics.

"This is a man who talks about the struggle through threats, intimidation and bullying.

"He doesn't just talk about it. He whips up that culture."

Labour former frontbencher Yvette Cooper said Mr McDonnell must apologise for his comments.

She told Peston on Sunday: "It's really, really not okay. People do say things in the heat of the moment. He should have apologised. He should absolutely have apologised.

"The idea that a woman MP, as Esther was at the time, should be lynched, it's just wrong."

Ms Cooper said Labour members should be kicked out for "repeated" harassment and abuse.

She added: "How can we stand up against oppression and bullying by the powerful or by the mob, as Labour has always done, if we are not prepared to deal with the minority in our own party who might be doing that kind of thing."