Scottish Labour’s response to racial slurs weak, says SNP minister
Humza Yousaf said Labour MP Hugh Gaffney should be suspended ‘at the very least’ after using racist language.
The leader of Scottish Labour’s “weak” response to racial slurs by an MP is a “slap in the face” for ethnic minorities, the SNP’s Humza Yousaf has said.
The minister said Labour MP Hugh Gaffney should be suspended “at the very least” and should “seriously consider his position” after using offensive language during a Burns Supper speech.
Mr Gaffney is reported to have made a joke about Robert Burns not being “bent”, and to have used a racist term when referring to a Chinese meal.
Mr Gaffney, who represents Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, apologised and has been reprimanded by the party.
It comes after Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, who lost the leadership contest to Richard Leonard, claimed an elected councillor had told him he could not back him because he was a “brown, Muslim Paki”.
Mr Yousaf said that Scottish Labour had shown itself to be “weak in the face of racial slurs”.
He said that although Mr Leonard could not remove Mr Gaffney as an MP he should take stronger action.
He told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland: “I think you’re the leader of your party or you’re not the leader of your party.
“You take a commanding role over your Scottish MPs, your Scottish MSPs, your councillors and, of course, this is the nub of the problem – the complete inconsistency in approach from Richard Leonard.
“The councillor who made the alleged remarks to Anas Sarwar, that is being investigated, he denies those remarks that councillor, but of course rightly he has been suspended.
“Hugh Gaffney admits making a racial slur absolutely comparable to the remark that was made to Anas Sarwar and yet all he gets is barely a tickle on the wrist.
“That kind of weak action from Richard Leonard actually is a slap in the face of every single ethnic minority in the country.”
Scottish Labour has said it is to develop a new anti-discrimination policy.
Mr Leonard has charged his party’s Equalities and Diversity sub-committee to create comprehensive anti-discrimination and harassment guidelines.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Hugh Gaffney MP has been reprimanded for using inappropriate and offensive language.
“He has apologised unreservedly and referred himself for equality and diversity training. The Labour Party is clear that this language is unacceptable.”
Mr Sarwar drew up an eight-point plan on how the party can tackle everyday racism and Islamophobia after speaking out on the abuse he received during the Scottish leadership campaign.