John McDonnell under fire for calling Winston Churchill 'a villain'

Written by Matt Foster and Tom Freeman on 14 February 2019 in News

Winston Churchill's role in using troops against striking miners comes under fire again, this time from the Shadow Chancellor

John McDonnell - Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA 

John McDonnell has come under fire after he branded Sir Winston Churchill a "villain" over his role in a 1910 miners' strike.

The Shadow Chancellor was asked by the Politico website whether the former Prime Minister - who led Britain to victory in the Second World War was "a hero or a villain".

He replied "Tonypandy - villain" - a reference to the 1910 riots in which Sir Winston, who was the Home Secretary, sent in troops to control striking miners in the Rhondda Valley.

The riots saw violent clashes between the police and those on strike, with one miner killed.

McDonnell's comments drew swift condemnation from Sir Winston's grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames.

The Tory MP told the Telegraph: "Frankly it’s a very foolish and stupid thing to say, surely said to gain publicity.

"I think my grandfather’s reputation can withstand a publicity-seeking assault from a third-rate, Poundland Lenin. I don’t think it will shake the world."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock meanwhile fumed: "Churchill was one of the greatest ever to have lived."

He added: "Courageous, compassionate & principled. Flawed too, but human enough to admit it. Saved our country, to boot.

"To say he was a villain says more of the smallness of the speaker than the great man."

Labour MP Ian Austin - a frequent critic of the party's leadership - also took a swipe at the Shadow Chancellor over the remarks on Twitter.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer also recently drew criticism for slamming Churchill's record. 

The Scottish Parliament’s youngest MSP tweeted: “Churchill was a white supremacist mass murderer”, for which shock jock Piers Morgan called him a “thick ginger turd”.

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