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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Labour apologise for racist leaflet

Welsh Labour have apologised for the disgraceful and unacceptable leaflet that they distributed in the Llanedeyrn and Pentwyn areas of Cardiff during the local election. The leaflet attacked the Liberal Democrats for supporting a site for travellers and Gypsies, even though there were no such proposals. In a statement, the Welsh Labour Party executive said the leaflets dealt with the issue of travellers sites in a totally inappropriate manner and should never have been given out. The CRE's Commissioner for Wales and leading Labour activist, Cherry Short, said: "This leaflet was a disgrace. It flew in the face of Labour's stated commitment to anti-racism."

I thought that Cherry Short's statement was a bit mealy-mouthed. It was almost as if it was choking her to be condemning the Labour Party. She concluded by stating that "Where it is appropriate CRE Wales will assist Welsh Labour with race equality training and advice. These are the kind of things all parties in Wales should be doing and the CRE will be putting points on these issues to the other Assembly parties in the coming months." Frankly, this attempt to spread the blame does not wash. It is Labour that have been caught red-handed. If these had been Welsh Liberal Democrat actvists they would at the very least be barred from being candidates and it is likely that they would be expelled..

What nobody has explained of course, is why the Wales Labour Party had to wait for a CRE ruling before condemning this leaflet. Surely it must have been evident to them months ago that it was inappropriate and that action needed to be taken against the individuals who were responsible for it. Yet the silence up to now has been deafening. Are Labour incapable of saying sorry without being prompted in this way? And when will they be apologising for the racist tone of the leaflets they issued in Birmingham Hodge Hill?

Update: Civil liberties pressure group Liberty and Law has reported the Labour leaflet to South Wales Police Chief Constable, Barbara Wilding, on the grounds that the action may have been in breach of the Race Relations Act.

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