Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner: Apologises ‘unreservedly’ for calling Tories ‘scum’

1908

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has apologised “unreservedly” for calling Toriess “scum” during her party’s conference in Brighton last month.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner says she would not use the same language again having “reflected” in recent weeks on “our political debate and the threats and abuse”.

Ms Rayner said she had “reflected” on the tone of political debate in the wake of the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess and would no longer use such language.

The apology came as two men were arrested and another was charged and pleaded guilty in relation to alleged threatening and abusive phone calls, letters and email messages directed at Ms Rayner in recent weeks.

The Ashton-under-Lyne MP has been away from Westminster over the last two weeks following the death of a loved one.

And she said she had used the time away from the “cut and thrust” of parliament to consider “our political debate and the threats and abuse that now seem to feature all too often”.

Using social media Rayner while reflecting on the loss of someone close, Angela Rayner posted a lengthy apology, in it she states:

“I have been off work over the last couple of weeks after losing a close loved one. Grief is the burden we bear for love and losing someone close is something that we all experience at some point in our lives, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to you.

So I can’t imagine what the family of Sir David Amess are going through, but I know they will be hurting. I send my heartfelt condolences to them. Sir David was a fine parliamentarian, a proud advocate for his constituents and above all such a kind, generous and warm-hearted man. He will be missed on all sides of the House.

As a society we need to offer better support to people who are going through bereavement, loss and other traumatic or difficult experiences in their personal lives. I hope that the fact that I took time to deal with a bereavement will encourage other people to do the same when they are going through grief or trauma.

While I have been away from the cut and thrust of Parliament I have reflected on our political debate and the threats and abuse that now seem to feature all too often.

I have also reflected on what I said at an event at Labour Party conference. I was angry about where our country is headed and policies that have made life harder for so many people I represent. But I would like to unreservedly apologise for the language I used, and I would not use it again.”

When first quizzed about her “scum” comments, made during an evening event at Labour’s Brighton conference in September, Ms Rayner had initially refused to apologise.

Interviewed immediately after, by Sky’s Trevor Phillips, Angela Rayner defended calling Tories ‘scum’ Ms Rayner added she had felt upset about previous comments from Boris Johnson and about denying free school meals for children ‘because I was a child that was hungry’.

After the Brighton conference, Sir Keir Starmer said he has spoken to Angela Rayner about her attack on the Tory government referring to them as “scum” he admitted, “we have different styles”.

The Labour leader would not reveal details of their conversation but said he would not have used the same language as his deputy.

In the statement Ms Rayner shared on Thursday evening, the Labour frontbencher said: “I have reflected on our political debate and the threats and abuse that now seem to feature all too often.

“I have also reflected on what I said at an event at Labour Party conference. I was angry about where our country is headed and policies that have made life harder for so many people I represent.

“But I would like to unreservedly apologise for the language I used, and I would not use it again.

“I send my heartfelt condolences to them. Sir David was a fine parliamentarian, a proud advocate for his constituents and above all such a kind, generous and warm-hearted man.”

The Labour deputy leader also commented on the threats she herself has received.

“In the past I have been reluctant to speak out about the abuse that I receive because I fear that doing so will only make the situation worse,” she said.

“However, in recent weeks the threats that I have received against my life and the lives of close family have been so terrifying and explicit that I could not stay silent and simply continue to take it as ‘part of the job’.

“They have had a devastating impact on me, my children and others close to me.”

Ms Rayner’s comments at the Labour conference were widely condemned by Tories, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and other members of the party’s front bench said they would not have used the same language to describe political opponents.

During the evening conference event in September, Ms Rayner told an audience: “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile … banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian… piece of scum.”

And she added she had “held back a little”.

Many people will be disappointed with this climb down for whatever reasons for many the Tories will always be beneath contempt.

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