Tory Minister Accuses Labour MP Of Demanding That Her Constituents "Lynch The Bitch"

    Employment minister Esther McVey said it was just one in a string of sexist insults from Labour. But John McDonnell said she'd got her facts wrong.

    Stefan Rousseau / PA Archive

    Employment minister Esther McVey has attacked Labour for making a string of "sexist" comments.

    She said she had been the victim of "very many" sexist jibes from the opposition benches. One of these was a call from Labour MP John McDonnell to "lynch the bitch", she claimed.

    In fact, McDonnell told an event in McVey's Wirral West constituency in November that he had heard an activist say: "Why aren't we lynching the bastard?" He has insisted he was simply repeating the words of a constituent, not advocating the measure himself.

    McVey's outburst in the House of Commons was prompted by a comment from Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, who called her a "hard-hearted Hannah".

    In a rare personal point of order, she said: "It is not the first time the opposition benches have been like this to me. John McDonnell actually came to my constituency, using unparliamentary language I know, he asked for people to lynch the bitch, live in Wirral West.

    "That is what the Labour opposition benches do in other people's constituencies. The opposition have form."

    During work and pensions questions earlier, Sheerman had told her: "Will you stop for a moment being the hard-hearted Hannah of the frontbench and be a bit a more compassionate about disabled young people looking for work?"

    McVey hit back: "I do hope your opening comment wasn't a sexist one, because I've had very many from the opposition benches."

    But Sheerman defended the comment, saying: "I think she thinks that was a sexist remark – it wasn't meant as that, it is actually a name of a famous song sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

    "But she has a reputation for being a very hard champion of the welfare reforms this government has introduced and I believe it was fair comment and unfair to call me a sexist."

    Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Emily Ashton at

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