Mr Lavery was recorded telling activists during a Zoom conference call on Friday that the COVID-19 crisis would allow the party to show how it can bring people together. The audio was obtained by the Guido Fawkes website, which published the recording on Monday. The former president of the National union of Mineworkers said in the call: “By the way, when something like this happens, we’re going to see lots of our own people dying as a consequence.
“But, you know apart from that, it’s going to give the fantastic battalion of Labour Party members, community champions out there, a great opportunity of showing how Labour, and why Labour, is best when it gets on the front foot and best when it brings people together.
“We need to make sure that we do that and community organising – what a great opportunity it’s going to give us.
“Every one of us, every one of our families… relations, friends, organising the communities, because there is going to be lots of people out there that really need our help.”
Mr Lavery’s comments drew a withering response from the Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.
The leading Brexiteer accused the MP for Northumberland of crass and disgusting behaviour and demanded that the Labour Party denounced his views.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Bridgen wrote: “Ian Lavery literally salivating at the thought of possibly tens of thousands of our vulnerable citizens perishing because he hopes it might breath life into the dead corpse which is the current Labour Party, I am disgusted, Labour must denounce his remarks immediately.”
The Labour Chairman, however, hit back and said that his words had been deliberately misinterpreted and that he was simply calling on people to help each other and support their communities.
He tweeted: “Intentionally misleading reporting is really disappointing at a time like this.
In an interview with Sky’s Sophy ridge on Sunday, Mr Corbyn also hinted that he would be happy to accept a leading role in the new Shadow Cabinet.
He said: ““I’m going to be very busy doing campaigning work on the economy, human rights and environmental issues – I am not disappearing from anywhere.
When pressed whether he was after a Shadow Cabinet post, he replied: “Well, I have always spent my life trying to deal with issues of human rights and justice around the world, and that is something – whether I have a position or not is not important.
“What’s important is we use the honour of holding public office to hold executives to account, but also to hold the unaccountable to account for those who are fighting for their human rights around the world.”
Asked if he could see himself as Shadow Foreign Secretary, the outgoing Labour leader joked: “Are you suggesting something?”
Mr Corbyn led his party to its worst election result since 1935, gifting Boris Johnson an 80 seat majority.
He is due to step down as leader at the beginning of April, when the party will elect a new leader.
Currently three candidates are vying to succeed Mr Corbyn as party boss.
Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long Bailey all qualified for the final ballot after securing enough support from unions and affiliated groups.
Published at Mon, 23 Mar 2020 22:43:00 +0000