Conservative MP Bob Stewart has described John McDonnell’s comments about Winston Churchill as “rubbish” and a “slur”, after the shadow chancellor called the wartime prime minister a “villain”.
Mr McDonnell was asked for a one word answer as to whether Mr Churchill was a hero or a villain at a Politico event, to which he replied: “Tonypandy – villain”.
The 1910 Tonypandy riots saw the army sent to control striking miners after they wrecked mine owners’ property in a call for better wages.
Bob Stewart, the Conservative MP for Beckenham described Tonypandy as an “excuse”.
He told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “He has had to use that excuse because for the vast majority of his career he was fantastically in support of our country.
“It is not surprising that these slurs are put out against Churchill.”
He added that in 2002 he supported a campaign that saw Mr Churchill voted the greatest Briton in a BBC poll.
“I am quite pleased and proud to be part of that process.,” he said.
“This happens all the time these days. I have been accused by people that when I was a soldier ‘I just wanted to go out and kill people’ and that I went to Bosnia in a colonial way.
“It is absolute rubbish but the problem is that these slurs are getting more and more, and easier to do because of the internet.”
'A great man'
Mr Stewart added that he believed many Labour backbench MPs would also describe Mr Churchill as “a great man”.
He said: “The Labour Party is actually a great party and it is in peril. Everything it stood for before is being put on its head by a group of people that have grabbed control.
“I think that is tragic. Speaking as a Conservative MP, there are a huge number of Labour MPs that I have a great deal of time for and they are my friends.
“Those people really care about our country too. So this is really sad because all of them would say that Churchill is a great man.”