Scottish Labour MP at centre of racism row urged to consider his position

A Scottish Labour MP at the centre of a racism row has been urged to consider his position by a Scottish Govt Minister who himself has been a victim of racism.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf said that Hugh Gaffney should be suspended from the Labour Party “at the very least”.

The SNP MSP said: “If an MP used any other racial slur I don’t think then I don’t think we’d say that person would be fit to hold office.”

Mr Yousaf was speaking on the Sunday Politics Show after it emerged that Scottish Labour MP Hugh Gaffney, who had given a speech containing the words “bent” and “chinky” which are offensive terms used to mock the LGBT and Chinese communities, has escaped suspension from Scottish Labour.  Gaffney admitted using the terms during a Burns Supper speech last weekend and has agreed to go to equality and diversity training.

Last week Humza Yousaf revealed racist threats had left him so worried about his safety and that of his family that he carries a personal attack alarm.

The failure of Scottish Labour to suspend the MP was condemned by the SNP MSP who criticised what he claimed was a lack of leadership at the top of Scottish Labour.  Mr Yousaf confirmed a letter he had sent to Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard had not yet been replied to.

The SNP MSP also suggested that the Scottish Labour MP may already have attended the diversity training prior to him becoming an MP.

He said: “There are a number of questions that clearly have to be answered. Has Hugh ever received equality and diversity training before as many, many of his former colleagues have contacted me to say he would have done?”.

The episode follows allegations made by Scottish Labour MP Anas Sarwar who claimed racist comments were directed at him by a Scottish Labour councillor during his leadership contest with eventual victor Richard Leonard.  The councilor in question, Davie McLachlan, who had been leader of the Labour group on South Lanarkshire Council, was suspended from the party following the allegations. He denies making the remarks.

Commenting on the failure to suspend Gaffney, Humza Yousaf said: “This weak action from Richard Leonard is simply unacceptable.”

He added: “Either you’re the leader of your party or your not.  You take a leading role over your Scottish MPs, your Scottish MSPs and your councillors.”

Contrasting the treatment of Mr Gaffney with that of Mr McLachlan, Mr Yousaf said: “The councillor who made the alleged remarks to Anas Sarwar […] rightly he has been suspended.

“Hugh Gaffney admits making a racial slur […] and yet all he gets is barely a tickle on the list.

“That weak action from Richard Leonard is a slap in the face to every ethnic minority in the country.”

Responding to the episode, Scottish Labour said it had new plans to promote diversity and stamp out intolerance.  It said the party’s equalities and diversity sub-committee would develop a comprehensive anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

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2 thoughts on “Scottish Labour MP at centre of racism row urged to consider his position

  1. Alasdair Macdonald

    Setting to one side, the question of whether the Labour Party’s decision in this matter is adequate it is worthy of note how much coverage this incident is getting compared to the rash of extremely racist, sectarian and homophobic comments by various members of the Conservative Party and how THE COLONEL was rarely questioned about this. The fact that the reported ‘training’ that these Tories in appropriate opinions might or might not have occurred was not pursued.

    Now that the Tories are ‘the second party in Scotland’, it is clear that many within BBC Scotland feel they can give freer reign to their true allegiances.

  2. Thomas Valentine

    Labour still has a councillor who handed out leaflets at Party meetings promoting an international Jewish conspiracy using banks and the media to control the world. He even has website promoting clearly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories worthy of Info Wars and the Alt Right.

    All he got was a two week paper suspension. In real life he simply continued as a Labour councillor and member without a pause. Instead immediate expulsion of a obvious wack job Dugdale defended him against “the Nationalist”.

    You wonder about the kind of language that passes as normal in Labour Party circles.

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