Labour MP in sexism row after Louise Mensch tweet

Labour MP Austin Mitchell found himself embroiled in a sexism row today after he sent an aggressive tweet to former Tory MP Louise Mensch.

The former chick-lit author has been busy denying reports she quit her Corby seat due to the threat from Labour after her husband gave an interview to the Sunday Times suggesting she wold get "killed" by the opposition in the 2015 general election.

"Shut up Menschkin," Mitchell tweeted today.

"A good wife doesn’t disagree with her master in public and a good little girl doesn't lie about why she quit politics."

Mensch, who has previously brought attention to abuse which comes her way online, quickly retaliated.

"Lovely to see @AvMitchell2010 speaking for the Labour party on feminism. 'her master'? 'a good wife doesn't disagree with her master'? Nice," she wrote.

"Can I have a repudiation from Ed Miliband please? My husband is my partner. And it's 2012. #feminism."

She added: "No private company would tolerate a man saying 'a good wife doesn't disagree with her master in public' Let's what Labour will do."

It was not immediately clear that Mitchell was joking in the tweet, although he does have a reputation for regrettable interventions.

He recently referred to new MPs as "mundane hacks who struggle to do a job that's too big for them" and called London a "dead weight crushing the life out of Britain".

Mitchell offered a very equivocal form of clarification with a tweet which used the famous Michael Winner phrase 'calm down dear'. It had prompted howls of outrage from Labour backbenchesr after David Cameron used it in prime minister's questions.

"Calm down dears," he tweeted.

"Irony may be a low form of wit but it's clearly above my level.And yours.So my wife has banned me from tweeting today."

A little later, he added: "Wife,three daughters,one granddaughter and Labour press office all demand that I withdraw my tweet.No chance of front bench now."

A Labour party source told Labour List: "Austin Mitchell has made clear the tweet was a joke not a serious comment. It is not funny, understandably people find it offensive, and it is not the view of the Labour party.”