ASLEF rail union president Tosh McDonald hit back yesterday at “misleading” claims that he compared Hilary Benn with Hitler.
Mr McDonald sought to set the record straight over comments he made at a Labour Representation Committee meeting during TUC’s annual Congress in Brighton on Monday evening.
The straight-talking train driver criticised the former shadow foreign secretary for likening bombing in Syria to British volunteers of the International Brigades.
He told the meeting: “There is a comparison with the Spanish civil war and bombing of Syria that Hilary Benn voted for. But it’s a not a comparison with the International Brigades.
“The only comparison I can draw is Hitler and Mussolini’s air force bombing the Republican lines in Spain.”
It was subsequently reported that Mr McDonald had compared the Labour MP with Hitler.
Mr Benn wrote to Mr McDonald on Twitter, asking: “How can you equate the fascists of Daesh (Isis) with the republicans fighting Franco in Spain?”
But in a statement issued by the union yesterday, Mr McDonald said: “Anyone who knows me knows I would never say those things and everyone who was there at the meeting knows that isn’t what I said.”
He reiterated his criticism of Mr Benn’s decision to vote for bombing in Syria but added: “I know that Hilary, who I respect as a senior Labour politician, was only responding to misquotations of what I actually said.
“And I think it’s time for all of us, in the labour movement, to turn our fire on the Tories, and what they are doing to this country, rather than attacking each other.”