Labour MP Helen Goodman criticised over tweet about Jeremy Hunt's wife

Labour MP Helen Goodman has been criticised after a tweet from her account asked why, “if China is so great”, Jeremy Hunt’s wife – who is from China – had come to England.

A tweet from Helen Goodman’s account referring to the wife of Jeremy Hunt. She later deleted tweet and apologised.
A tweet from Helen Goodman’s account referring to the wife of Jeremy Hunt. She later deleted tweet and apologised. Photograph: Twitter

The comment comes after the health secretary referred to his wife’s nationality when suggesting that the government’s tax credit cuts would encourage Britons to work as hard as people in some Asian economies.

Goodman, the MP for Bishop Auckland and a Treasury select committee member, was criticised by the Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, among others.

A Labour spokeswoman said: “This does not represent the views of the Labour party. Helen will be reminded of her responsibilities as an elected Labour politician.”

Labour peer Angela Smith told the BBC’s Westminster Hour: “It is absolutely bizarre, I do not understand it at all. I do not know what she is trying to say, or the meaning behind it. But, yes, if that is her tweet, she should apologise ... Presumably, Mrs Hunt lives in the UK because she is married to Mr Hunt and she is in love with him and wants to be with him, so end of story.

“But I think there is a lesson for all here: that our partners and our families are not in the public domain to be criticised or commented on.”

She added that there would be a “queue around the block” if everyone who “said something stupid on Twitter” was made to apologise. Labour MEP Claude Moraes also criticised Goodman.

Goodman later deleted the tweet and posted an apology.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Tory party conference last week, Hunt said the controversial welfare changes would strengthen the nation’s work ethic.

“My wife is Chinese, and if we want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years’ time there’s a pretty difficult question that we have to answer which is essentially: are we going to be a country that is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating culture where work is at the heart of our success.”

In July last year, Goodman was criticised for saying that the most interesting things about the then newly promoted female Conservative ministers Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Penny Mordaunt were their looks.

A tweet appeared on her account that read: “All are puppets who’ll change nothing and their appearance really is the most interesting thing about them.” The tweet was later deleted.

Neither Goodman nor Hunt have responded to requests for comment.

Powered by article was written by Kevin Rawlinson, for The Guardian on Sunday 11th October 2015 23.22 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010