Jeremy Corbyn condemns Clive Lewis comments and denies accusations of misogyny in Labour party

‘This kind of language is not acceptable in any circumstances at any time,’ says Labour leader

Will Worley
Saturday 21 October 2017 21:31 BST
Clive Lewis jokes "get on your knees bitch" to a man in panel event

Jeremy Corbyn has condemned a “completely unacceptable” comment made by MP Clive Lewis and denied accusations of misogyny within the Labour Party.

It follows the furore over a video in which Mr Lewis told a male actor to “get on your knees b****” at a game show segment of a Momentum event, held alongside the party conference.

The emergence of the footage led to a storm of criticism directed at Mr Lewis from all political sides.

Mr Corbyn, who had previously avoided talking publicly of the issue, appeared to bow to pressure to speak out on Saturday.

On a visit to Norwich, the Labour leader said to the BBC of the comments: “Completely wrong, should never have said it – completely unacceptable comments.”

He added: “He’s been in touch with me to apologise personally to me, and it’s a message to everybody – this kind of language is not acceptable in any circumstances at any time.”

Asked if the comments indicated wider misogyny within the party, he replied: “It points to a bad remark he made in particular circumstances.

“I am leading a party which has more women MPs than all the others put together, and we have more all-women shortlists for selections coming up.”

On Friday, Women and Equalities Minister Justine Greening had called on Mr Corbyn to condemn the “sexist, misogynistic language”.

But others at the event have maintained the remark was made in jest. The man the comments were directed at, Sam Swann, told The Independent: “He says to me ‘on your knees b****’ and it is clearly jovial.

“The whole event was so brilliant for seeing MPs letting their hair down and f******g around with people who support them. I think Clive Lewis is an absolute legend.”

Ash Sarkar of Novara Media, who compered the event, said she called for a volunteer to keep score in a game show section, and then asked him to kneel down so the cameras had a clear view of the stage.

She added: “He made a little face, and then Clive jokingly said ‘on your knees, bitch’ to him. The joke was delivered in the spirit of campy humour.”

But many female Labour MPs had already lined up to take aim at Mr Lewis following the revelations.

Jess Phillips was among the Labour MPs condemning Mr Lewis' comments
Jess Phillips was among the Labour MPs condemning Mr Lewis' comments (PA)

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, posted on Twitter: “Just seen the Clive Lewis video. Obviously I’m appalled, just listened to seven teenage girls speak up about gender inequality. Perhaps I’ll bring them to work on Monday.”

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy tweeted: “It’s not OK. Even if meant as a joke, reinforces menace that men have the physical power to force compliance.”

Yvette Cooper, chair of Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “No excuse for saying this, whatever context.”

The party’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman added: “Inexplicable. Inexcusable. Dismayed.”

Mr Lewis issued an apology saying: “I apologise unreservedly for the language I used at an event in Brighton last month. It was offensive and unacceptable.”

But he later garnered fresh criticism for ‘liking’ tweets from supporters that called his comments “harmless banter”, being condemned by “shameless hypocrites”.

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