Angela Rayner has refused to apologise for potty-mouthed insults aimed at the Conservative Party, who she branded “scum” to activists at the Labour Party conference in Brighton last night.
Invited to apologise for her inflammatory remarks by Sky’s Trevor Phillips this morning, Rayner defended her outburst, saying she was trying to put “fire” in the bellies of her Labour foot soldiers, adding that the meeting was “post-watershed” and that she was using “street language” in “her passionate way” – as if that was any kind of defence.
Towards the end of Rayner’s long-winded explanation/rant, she doubled down, telling Phillips, Cabinet members were “scummy”.
Sounding every inch the leader of modern Brexit Britain, Rayner told activists last night: “The stories I tell about my childhood are for people to look at themselves and to be able to say ‘look at what we did, look at what we achieved when we’re in government, and look what we can do’.
“And we’ve seen that with our mayors, we’ve seen that with Steve [Rotheram, Liverpool], with Andy [Burnham, Manchester], we’ve seen it with our members in local government, the difference we’ve made in when we’re in power. We make no difference when we’ve not in power, we’re just shouting from the sidelines. I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, I bet you lot are too.
“We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile of banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian, posh… piece of scum.”
Regaining composure, she added: “I held back a little”.
Responding to the inevitable backlash, Rayner said to Phillips: “I was speaking to a group of activists to say you’ve got to get that fire in your belly.”
She clarified that her tirade was not aimed at Tory voters, but members of the Cabinet, particularly Boris Johnson: “I’m not saying anybody who voted Conservative are those things, I’m saying the prime minister has said those things and acted in that way.”
Rayner went back on the attack: “I think anyone who leaves children hungry during a pandemic and can give billions of pounds for their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy.”
Having overstepped the line yet again, she offered a “northern working class” definition of scummy. “We’d even say it jovially to other people, we say it’s a scummy thing to do.”
“That to me is my street language, as you would say, about actually it’s pretty appalling that people think that’s OK to do.”