Mercy Muroki: Angela Rayner needs to stop fighting a lazy, outdated caricature of the Conservatives
'Rayner claims the term ‘scum’ is simply the vernacular of the North – I would hazard a guess that many Northerners would disagree.'
As many of you have seen, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner unleashed a tirade against Conservatives at the Labour Party Conference, calling them – quote - “a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic… absolute pile… of banana republic… Etonian… piece of scum”… Pleasant.
Over the last couple of days, Rayner has been condemned by politicians (from both sides), journalists, and members of the public for her use of the word ‘scum’.
After all, this is the same Angela Rayner who said in an interview that ‘Parliamentarians have a responsibility to dial down their language’.
She claims the term ‘scum’ is simply the vernacular of the North – I would hazard a guess that many Northerners would disagree.
But, nonetheless whilst the thing people have taken most issue with is her use of the word ‘scum’, I’m more inclined to take issue with Rayner calling the Conservatives ‘homophobic, racist, misogynistic’ scum.
Once upon a time this line of critique had legs. But now it’s just a tired old stereotype that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
As Conservative Minister James Cleverly swiftly pointed out on Twitter – Rayner is talking about a “party that has had two female Prime Ministers” - has “half of the great offices of state filled by women, half by ethnic minorities, most diverse government ever in British history… as well as more gay ministers than Labour ever had”.
Any gay, ethnic minority, or female aspiring to one day earn their seat in the Commons is much more likely to find inspiration from the Conservative Party than from Labour.
And I really think it’s such a shame that Angela Rayner resorts to ad hominem.
Firstly, because there is actually a long list of policy decisions – and disasters – to take aim at, if you are a member of the opposition looking to attack the Tories...
Secondly… and this might shock some, despite her faults… I really admire Angela Rayner. She’s a diamond in the rough – and I love an underdog!
There was a very moving biographical piece in The Times last Friday which detailed the rise of the Rayner. Young Angela grew up on a council estate in Stockport, caring for her mother – who had bipolar disorder - from the age of 10. She got pregnant at 15, left school with no qualifications, and worked as a care worker for a number of years before embarking on a political career.
She is now, in theory, only one Labour leadership election and one general election away from being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom...
Look, I have no issue with people who disagree with me. I really want to like Angela, I do. But I’d respect her infinitely more as an opposition politician if she stopped fighting a lazy, outdated caricature of the Conservatives – that clearly doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.