Wales

MP Owen Smith sorry for domestic violence comment

Pontypridd MP Owen Smith
Image caption Owen Smith replaced Kim Howells as Pontypridd MP at the general election

A new MP has apologised after he compared the UK government's planned public spending cuts to domestic violence.

Owen Smith, the Labour MP for Pontypridd, wrote in an online article: "Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?"

Women's groups criticised him for using "a fairly tasteless analogy".

Mr Smith said he would now re-edit the offending part of the article.

He replaced former minister Kim Howells as MP at the general election.

The website WalesHome published his article about the current political situation at Westminster.

Mr Smith described the coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats as "a Gretna-style tryst" which he said many of his Labour colleagues could not imagine lasting very long.

He added: "The Lib Dem dowry of a maybe-referendum on AV [the alternative vote system] will seem neither adequate reward nor sufficient defence when the Tories confess their taste for domestic violence on our schools, hospitals and welfare provision.

"Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?"

In a statement, Mr Smith said: "I apologise if anyone has been offended by the metaphorical reference in this article, which I will now be editing.

"The reference was in a phrase describing today's Tory and Liberal cuts to domestic spending on schools and welfare as metaphorical 'domestic violence'.

"This was in no way intended to diminish the critical task of tackling the abhorrence of actual domestic violence."

Naomi Brightmore, the chair of Wales Violence Against Women Action Group, who is also director of the Welsh Women's National Coalition, said: "It's clearly a fairly tasteless analogy considering the seriousness of domestic violence in our society."

Nick Bourne, leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh assembly, said he hoped Mr Smith regretted the comments and "apologises and calms down."

'Insensitive comments'

"This is completely inappropriate and has no part to play in civilised politics.

"For some years, we were known as the nasty party - this indicates that Labour are taking on that mantle very quickly".

Plaid Cymru AM Nerys Evans, a campaigner against domestic violence, described Mr Smith's comments as in "very bad taste".

She added: "If Mr Smith understood anything about the pain that is suffered by domestic abuse victims I'm sure he'd have chosen his words more carefully.

"Although we all are angry with the proposed Tory cuts in Wales and the impact that these cuts will have on Welsh communities there is no room for such insensitive comments."

Before becoming an MP Mr Smith worked as a journalist with the BBC and as a special advisor to Paul Murphy, when he was Welsh secretary. He later worked for a biotech company.

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