Analysis: Angela Rayner’s ‘scum’ comments seem a mistake but colleagues aren't so sure

It’s Labour conference this week, which gives the party space for some much needed good coverage, and a chance for Sir Keir Starmer to finally show off his vision for Britain.

Except we aren’t talking about that, or at least it isn’t the focus, because as always happens with these things, it’s been overshadowed as someone has said something silly.

In this instance, it was the deputy leader Angela Rayner who like most of us when on a night out appeared to have made a mistake.

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Speaking to party members, she said: "We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile... banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian... piece of scum."

Deputy leader Angela Rayner is believed to have leadership aspirations.

It seems an unguarded moment that steals headlines away from announcements such as a green new deal or affordable housing and allows the Conservative response to lead the coverage.

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There is also no defence to it being a private comment, it was said to members with journalists in attendance.

Ms Rayner has refused to apologise, saying she was using "street language" to convey her "anger and frustration", which is an excuse worse than saying you were present but not involved at a memorial for terrorists.

While this may seem like a mistake, a verbal slip up in front of her own supporters, it’s worth noting others in the cabinet don’t feel this way, and consider it part of a pattern of behaviour.

Leadership bids have been briefed, Ms Rayner has sided with unions not affiliated and now made what many of her colleagues see is an act focused on her own future, not that of the party.

The Labour membership have repeatedly called for Sir Keir to be stronger in his criticism of the Government, despite growing support under his stewardship in the polls.

Now at a time when everyone should be discussing the gas crisis, Ms Rayner has poured her own fuel on the fire for Tory messaging allowing them to reframe the current party as the same as what came before.

It could be a mistake, it could be calculated, either way it’s furthered Ms Rayner’s popularity with people already going to vote Labour, not those who need to be convinced.

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