John McDonnell has branded Sir Winston Churchill a “villain” over his role in dealing with striking miners in 1910.
Speaking at a Politico event and when asked whether Churchill was a hero or villain, the shadow chancellor replied: “Tonypandy – villain”.
During the Tonypandy riots of 1910, troops were sent out to control striking miners who wrecked town centre shops and mine-owners’ property.
Churchill was voted the greatest Briton in a BBC poll in 2002.
In response to Mr McDonnell’s comments, Labour MP Ian Austin posted a picture of the wartime leader on social media.
He tweeted: “Look who takes pride of place on my mantelpiece in Dudley: a real British hero, the greatest ever Briton, the man who motivated Britain to defeat the Nazis and fight not just for our liberty but the world’s freedom.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted that Churchill “was one of the greatest ever to have lived”.
The Tonypandy riots took place on the evenings of 7 and 8 November 1910 and involved violent clashes between striking miners and the police, with soldiers arriving on the second day.
One miner was killed.
The incident haunted Churchill for the rest of his career and many of his critics saw it as an anti-trade union stance.