Corbyn tried to bully me through my dad, claims Labour MP
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of planning to telephone the father of one of his own frontbenchers in an attempt to make him fall into line.
The extraordinary claim was made by Conor McGinn, a Labour whip, who said that Mr Corbyn had considered the move as a way of punishing him after he was critical about the leader.
Mr McGinn said he was speaking out after he said he could “no longer tolerate the hypocrisy” of Mr Corbyn advocating a “kinder, gentler politics”.
It comes with Mr Corbyn planning to launch his leadership campaign tomorrow, after he was challenged by the former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith.
Mr McGinn suggested that Mr Corbyn may have considered calling his father Pat because he was a former Sinn Fein councillor and thought they may “share a political affinity”. He said that the threat arose after he had been critical of Mr Corbyn in an interview.
“It transpired that Jeremy, in deliberations about how to respond to my interview, had said that he intended to ring my father to discuss it with him and ask him to speak to me about it,” he said in a statement.
“The leader of the Labour Party was proposing to address an issue with one of his own MPs by ringing his dad.
“Jeremy does not know my father so I can only presume that, because of the much-publicised fact that my father was a Sinn Fein councillor, Jeremy felt that they would share a political affinity and was proposing to use that to ask my father to apply pressure on me.
“Thankfully, others dissuaded Jeremy from taking this course of action. The call was not made, and it would not have been well-received.”
The claim was denied by Mr Corbyn’s office. However, it comes with Mr Corbyn also facing other claims of creating a hostile atmosphere for MPs, who are coming under increasing pressure from hard-left activists backing the leader.
Harriet Harman, former acting Labour leader, also said that Mr Corbyn had driven a wedge between MPs and party members by suggesting that all MPs would face reselection.
Angela Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, criticised Mr Corbyn for “stirring” hostility in the party after she was forced to cancel constituency surgeries on police advice. She had come under pressure from her local party after launching a leadership challenge against Mr Corbyn that she later abandoned.
Mr McGinn said he and other MPs had faced a “torrent of abuse and threats” from supporters of Mr Corbyn.
“In my constituency, a group of people gained access to my shared office building under false pretences and filmed themselves protesting outside the door of my office in an incident that has been reported to the police,” he said.
“They threatened to disrupt my surgeries and events I was attending, requiring me to have a police presence at those last weekend.”
Mr Corbyn said this morning that he was “disappointed” by the claims. “I don’t do any abuse, I don’t do any bullying,” he told Sky News.
“I wish some of my colleagues would concentrate on political issues. I regret the language that’s been used, by all of them,” he said.
“I don’t do any abuse, I don’t do any bullying, I don’t allow it to be done anywhere to do with any of my campaign teams and I’m very surprised and very disappointed they should say that because politics has to be about bringing people in.
“I think we have done that spectacularly well – we now have the largest membership we’ve ever had. That’s good, that means more and more people are involved in politics.
“That’s good, it’s not a threat, it’s a good thing that people come together and want to debate and be active in politics in our society. Isn’t that good for democracy?”