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Corbyn and McDonnell 'fought apartheid while Tories wanted Mandela hanged'

Shadow chancellor speaks out after Theresa May refuses to say whether she backs Thatcher's description of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist

SHADOW chancellor John McDonnell pointed out today that he and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigned fiercely against apartheid in the 1970s and ’80s while the Tories were calling for Nelson Mandela to be hanged.

He hit out after Channel 4 News presenter Michael Crick made Prime Minister Theresa May squirm in an interview on Robben Island, where Mr Mandela spent 18 years locked up by the racist South African government.

Mr Crick quizzed the PM whether she felt “guilty” about the Tories siding with Mr Mandela’s oppressors before he went on to become president of South Africa.

And he asked if she agreed with the then Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who branded Mandela a “terrorist” for fighting against the apartheid regime.

Ms May, who was in South Africa on Tuesday as part of a three-day trade mission to Africa, sidestepped those questions.

Asked if she went on any protests against apartheid, she said: “I think you know full well that I didn’t go on protests.”

At the time of Mr Mandela’s incarceration, Federation of Conservative Students members produced infamous posters and badges with the slogan “Hang Nelson Mandela.”

At the time, Mr Corbyn was arrested outside the South African embassy for protesting against white racist rule and calling for Mr Mandela’s release.

Mr McDonnell said: “For years there was a 24-hour permanent picket of South Africa House in Trafalgar Square that Jeremy and I supported.

“I spent one Christmas Day there singing anti-apartheid carols. This was at a time when the Young Tories and many Tory MPs were calling for Mandela to be hung.”

Labour chair Ian Lavery said: “We deserve a prime minister who is on the right side of history, stands by their beliefs and doesn’t ignore justice anywhere in the world.

“That PM is my friend and comrade Jeremy Corbyn.”

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