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‘Bikers are orphan-makers’ MP in ‘cynical U-turn’

Published: 25 April 2010

Updated: 19 November 2014

A Labour MP who called motorcyclists “widow-makers and orphan-makers” has been accused of a “cynical” bid to diffuse the scandal to protect votes.

Four weeks ago Barry Sheerman said 650 people died a year on bikes and claimed the number for men aged 30-60 was rising.

But the Huddersfield MP has now said rider deaths are falling and that the latest annual figure is just 493.

An Early Day Motion for debate in the House of Commons submitted by Sheerman says the number has fallen from 1743 in 1960 to 493 in 2008.

The motion “further commends all those, including motorcyclists and motorcyclists' organisations, that have contributed to this reduction; further notes that all too often motorcycle accidents are caused as a direct result of the abysmal road behaviour of car drivers; and further calls for co-ordinated efforts to significantly reduce this avoidable cause of death and serious injury”.

Nich Brown, spokesman for the Motorcycle Action Group, said: “This is a complete about-face compared to his sickening and utterly cynical 'widow-makers and orphan-makers' jibe at biking a couple of weeks ago.

“It could be a cynical bit of electioneering. He started the EDM just as parliament was about to quit for the elections, so given the flak he has had from MAG members in his constituency, not to mention MCN, it may just be he wants to avoid a scandal at the ballot box.”

Sheerman has previously said many motorcycle casualties are caused by drivers, while maintaining motorcycling should be discouraged.

In a recent interview with MCN, he said it was “extremely dangerous” before hanging up the phone. 

Over 3,000 people joined a “Don’t vote Labour” Facebook group over his orphan-maker remark.

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