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I need to be less colourful with language, says Smith amid 'lunatic' comment row

Published 24/08/2016

Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith said 'Jeremy is not the only socialist in the village'
Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith said 'Jeremy is not the only socialist in the village'

Owen Smith has admitted he needs to be "slightly less colourful" with his choice of language after insisting he had not called Jeremy Corbyn a "lunatic".

The Pontypridd MP told party members at an event in Hammersmith, west London, on Tuesday evening: "What you won't get from me is some lunatic at the top of the Labour Party."

Mr Smith faced calls from allies of Mr Corbyn to retract the remarks but he told BBC Radio 4 Today programme that he was not referring to his Labour leadership rival.

He said: "Having been accused earlier in the evening of running around like a lunatic, I was saying I wasn't a lunatic, but if anybody's offended by the use of that word then I do apologise and I've done that already this morning and I'll do it again.

"But I wasn't talking about Jeremy. I was talking about me."

It is not the first time Mr Smith has faced criticism for some of his comments.

He has previously apologised for claiming that Labour should "smash" Prime Minister Theresa May "back on her heels".

Meanwhile, he was accused of being unfit for high office after he suggested that Islamic State would eventually have to be brought into peace talks to end the Syrian civil war.

Mr Smith has conceded he needs to be more careful with some of his words, telling the Today programme: "You have got to learn I think in this job that you need to weigh every word very, very carefully as they are all weighed for me and I have not done that judiciously enough on occasion."

Mr Smith was then asked if he thought his comments showed he was not ready to be Labour leader.

"I don't think so," he said.

"I think it suggests that I'm occasionally a bit colourful with my language. I need to be slightly less colourful perhaps in future."

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