Ian Austin: Chuka Umunna was not being offensive with 'call off the dogs' phrase

By Megan Archer | Politics | Published:

Ian Austin has waded into a controversial online debate to defend a party member for his use of the phrase 'call off the dogs'.

The Dudley North MP has insisted that the words spoken by fellow Labour MP Chuka Umunna were actually 'very common' and were not meant in an offensive way.

It comes after Streatham representative Mr Umunna warned that centre-left MPs were being run out the party – he then urged leader Jeremy Corbyn to 'call off the dogs'.

But his use of language was branded 'grossly offensive' by shadow chancellor John McDonnell who said: "our party members are not dogs."

He added it was 'unacceptable' to refer to party members in such a way.

In defence of Mr Umunna, Ian Austin sent a message out via his Twitter account yesterday saying: "Spare us the pious sanctimony John McDonnell.

"Everyone knows Chuka was using a very common phrase, one you have used yourself.

"And the last time I tried to speak to you, your side of the conversation consisted of two words. The first began with "F" and the second was "off"."


He attached a text image of an article from The Socialist Newspaper in 2007, where John McDonnell himself had told former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to call off the dogs.

Mr McDonnell has rejected suggestions that MPs critical of Jeremy Corbyn are being driven out of the party.

Chuka Umunna

Just last month Mr Austin was made the subject of an internal investigation by the Labour party after he was critical of Mr Corbyn's handling of the party's anti-Semitism crisis.


And he reacted in disbelief over claims that people who complain about racism in the Labour party should be investigated.

Leftist political commentator Aaron Bastani, a supporter of Mr Corbyn, called on the Labour leader to examine the records of 68 rabbis who signed a letter urging him to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Mr Austin reacted incredulously, tweeting: "I’ve got a great idea.

"Instead of listening to complaints about racism, the 'first thing' Labour should do is investigate the people making them and their records!"

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Deputy Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Deputy Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email


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