In the Scottish Labour Students’ Burns Supper, held at Edinburgh University on Saturday, Hugh Gaffney, the MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, made “deeply offensive” racist and homophobic remarks. He was there to make an ‘Immortal Memory’ speech and talk about the national poet Robert Burns.
However, it’s said that the MP shocked the Labour students with his own poem, in which he said Burns was not “bent.” “He started off being a farmer/But he really was such a charmer/Going for ales he frequent/Telling the lads and lassies he was not bent,” he said.
Another line said: “Like all good Scots we love the banter. Rabbie [Burns] had a pal Tam O’Shanter. The story goes he had a few ales. Riding his horse into the night. Passing the cemetery he gets a fright. He nearly done a s**te.”
He also used racist words and phrases, when he was talking about a Chinese meal. He told his audiences that he could have stayed at home instead to eat a“Ch***y.” His use of racist words caused a wide range of protests and criticisms.
“Hugh Gaffney MP has been reprimanded for using inappropriate and offensive language. He has apologized unreservedly and referred himself for equality and diversity training. The Labour Party is clear that this language is unacceptable,” Labour said.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) also asked him to withdraw from the party. “This is utterly awful. A simple apology and diversity training does not cut it. In fact, it is a slap in the face to suggest this absolves him,” the SNP’s Humza Yousaf said. “At very least he should be suspended from the party and whip withdrawn,” he continued.
This is utterly awful. A simple apology and diversity training does NOT cut it! In fact it is a slap in the face to suggest this absolves him.
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) February 7, 2018
“Today is sadly another example of why we need to recognize that everyday racism is a reality,” the contender Anas Sarwar tweeted in response to Gaffney’s comments, who claimed that he was subjected to racial abuse.
Today is sadly another example of why we need to recognise that everyday racism is a reality. I published an 8-point plan yesterday on how @scottishlabour can lead by example…. Deeds not words. https://t.co/TLuSaQGLrW
— Anas Sarwar (@AnasSarwar) February 7, 2018