Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned MP Clive Lewis’ comment to “get on your knees b***ch” as “completely unacceptable”.
Mr Corbyn revealed that former shadow cabinet member Mr Lewis had personally apologised to him, but said it did not point to misogyny within the Labour Party.
Mr Lewis fell under fire after a video emerged of him telling a man at a public event to: “get on your knees b***ch”, sparking a backlash from Labour colleagues and other MPs and prompting the Norwich South MP to issue an ‘unreserved’ apology.
I apologise unreservedly for the language I used at an event in Brighton last month. It was offensive and unacceptable.
— Clive Lewis (@labourlewis) October 20, 2017
On a visit to Norwich, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined the ranks of Mr Lewis’ critics, telling the BBC: “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 pointed to misogyny within the party, he said: “It points to a bad remark he made in particular circumstances.
“I’m 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.”
Mr Lewis reportedly directed the comments at actor Sam Swann, who told the Independent the incident – which took place at a Momentum event – was “clearly jovial”.
Novara’s Ash Sarkar, 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 said the joke was delivered in the spirit of “campy humour”.
But many MPs said it was unacceptable whether it was a joke or not.
Inexplicable. Inexcusable. Dismayed. https://t.co/ZayhciCphU
— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) October 20, 2017
Former deputy party leader Harriet Harman tweeted: “Inexplicable. Inexcusable. Dismayed.” while the chairwoman of the women’s parliamentary Labour Party, Jess Phillips, wrote: “Just seen the Clive Lewis video. Obviously I am appalled, just listened to 7 teenage girls speak up about gender inequality. Perhaps I’ll bring them to work on Monday.”
Former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper tweeted: “Agree w Jess. No excuse for saying this, whatever context.”
And Labour MP Stella Creasy said: “It’s not OK. Even if meant as a joke, reinforces menace that men have the physical power to force compliance.”
(Top picture: AP)