AN SNP MP faces a backlash from his own colleagues after writing that the father of Labour's shadow foreign secretary "must be turning in his grave" after he backed UK airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria.

George Kerevan made the statement on Twitter as Hilary Benn was closing the debate for the opposition, in a speech that won plaudits from those who were against bombing as well as those who support it.

The East Lothian MP wrote: "Benn summing up for Labour but voting with Tories. Benn's father must be turning in his grave."

 

The comment, a reference to Mr Benn's father Tony, the former left wing Labour cabinet minister who was an outspoken anti-war activist, immediately drew an angry response. Tony Benn, who was president of the Stop the War coalition and one of leaders of a popular movement against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, passed away in March last year.

Alex Salmond, the former First Minister and currently the SNP's foreign affairs spokesman, echoed Mr Kerevan's controversial comments in an interview this morning when asked about the speech.

The former SNP leader said: "The button he pressed was appealing to Labour's internationalism, the United Nations, therefore it's not about the Tory Party... so he appealed to a lot of traditional Labour buttons. But I'll tell you this, his father, whose speech I heard in the Iraq debate all those years ago - and I was sitting virtually in the same place - his father would be burling in his grave hearing a speech in favour of a Tory Prime Minister wanting to take the country to war. That's just a reality."

SNP MP Stewart McDonald, in what appeared to be a direct reference to Mr Kerevan's tweet, described the comments as "repulsive". The Glasgow MP had earlier said that while he disagreed with Mr Benn over airstrikes, he had made a "respectful and powerful case for what he believes in."

 

 

Tony Benn's granddaughter, Emily, was also upset by Mr Kerevan's comments. She wrote that they were "deeply offensive" and asked that he retract them. She later also called for Mr Salmond to retract his "deeply offensive and simply untrue" comments.


After saying Mr Benn's father must be "turning in his grave," Mr Kerevan, a former journalist, went on to praise his opponent's speech. "This is a leadership speech," he wrote, before expressing shock when some members of the Tory benches applauded the Leeds Central MP.

In a sign of Labour splits over the issue, Mr Benn closed the debate for Labour by arguing strongly in favour of airstrikes after leader Jeremy Corbyn opened the 10-hour debate for his party by making the case against UK intervention.

MPs eventually voted overwhelmingly in favour of bombing raids against IS in Syria by a margin of 397 votes to 223.