Salmond: Tony Benn Would Be 'Birling' In His Grave

3 December 2015, 10:37 | Updated: 31 August 2016, 12:27

Alex Salmond told LBC's James O'Brien that Tony Benn would be 'birling' in his grave after his son's speech backing air strikes in Syria.

Labour shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn made rousing speech in parliament on Wednesday, backing the bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria.

"His father, whose speech I heard in the Iraq debate all these years ago, would be birling in his grave hearing a speech in favour of a Tory prime minister wanting to take the country to war and that’s just a reality," the former SNP leader said.

Birling is Scots word for spinning. Watch as he attacks Hilary Benn for supporting war in Syria.

"I think that is fair political comment to contrast the view of the father and the son," he said when James grilled him on his controversial comments.

Mr Salmond's comments were picked up by others who criticised the MP for an attack they viewed as too personal. This lead to Mr Salmond issuing a statement this afternoon, saying that the word 'birling' was not offensive in the context he intended:

'Birling in your grave' is a well-known Scottish idiom, which means a deceased person would be enormously surprised by the current turn of events.

"I think it is a fair comment that Tony Benn would have been astonished to hear his son make a pro-war speech in favour of a Tory Prime Minister’s war plans.

"There was certainly no disrespect meant to Tony Benn, who I held on the highest regard. Not least of which because of his passionate anti-war speeches – for which I was present.

"The Labour Party would be better employed demanding an apology from the Prime Minister for calling their own party leader a ‘terrorist sympathiser’."