Hugh’s sorry now

Labour leader rep­ri­mands Gaffney over slurs

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Front Page - Ian Bunt­ing

Coat­bridge MP Hugh Gaffney has apol­o­gised to his con­stituents for any em­bar­rass­ment he caused them when he made “deeply of­fen­sive” re­marks at a Burns Sup­per.

The Labour MP re­ferred to a Chi­nese meal as a “c*****” and joked about Robert Burns not be­ing “bent”.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn called Gaffney’s re­marks “com­pletely wrong”.

Hugh Gaffney has apol­o­gised to his Coat­bridge con­stituents for the “deeply of­fen­sive and un­ac­cept­able” com­ments he made dur­ing an ill- ad­vised speech at a Burns Sup­per event.

The MP ad­mit­ted us­ing “com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate” lan­guage re­fer­ring to the LGBT com­mu­nity and Chi­nese peo­ple in front of a stunned au­di­ence at the Labour stu­dents’ gath­er­ing in Ed­in­burgh last week.

The 54-year-old made a joke about Robert Burns not be­ing “bent”, and used the term “c*****” when re­fer­ring to Chi­nese food.

De­spite re­peated re­quests, Mr Gaffney de­clined to speak to the Ad­ver­tiser di­rectly, and in­stead is­sued an up­dated ver­sion of his pre­vi­ous apol­ogy.

It read: “Last week I at­tended a Labour stu­dents’ Burns Sup­per In Ed­in­burgh.

“At that event I used cer­tain lan­guage re­lat­ing to the Chi­nese and LGBT com­mu­ni­ties that was wrong and com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

“I want to of­fer my un­re­served apolo­gies for what I said; my re­marks were deeply of­fen­sive and un­ac­cept­able.

“I will be tak­ing part in equal­ity and di­ver­sity train­ing at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.

“I will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make amends with both the Chi­nese com­mu­nity and the LGBT com­mu­nity.

“I would also like to apol­o­gise to the peo­ple of Coat­bridge, Chrys­ton & Bell­shill for any em­bar­rass­ment this has caused them.”

Mr Gaffney’s racist re­mark came just weeks af­ter he vis­ited China on an all-ex­penses paid trip.

The for­mer post­man trav­elled to Guang­dong and Guangxi in Novem­ber with West­min­ster’s all­party par­lia­men­tary group (APPG) on China; an or­gan­i­sa­tion founded to build re­la­tions be­tween the UK and China.

Mr Gaffney has said he will now un­dergo equal­ity and di­ver­sity train­ing fol­low­ing his ill-judged com­ments – and has vowed to “do ev­ery­thing in his power to make amends” with both the Chi­nese and LGBT com­mu­ni­ties.

De­spite the Coat­bridge, Bell­shill & Chrys­ton MP’s ex­pres­sion of re­morse, there have been calls for his sus­pen­sion, with Glas­gow MSP Humza Yousaf claim­ing Mr Gaffney’s be­hav­iour was “not sim­ply of­fen­sive but racist and ho­mo­pho­bic”, and a “slap in the face” to mi­nori­ties.

Com­ment­ing on Mr Gaffney’s Chi­nese ex­cur­sion, Mr Yousaf added: “The fact Hugh Gaffney re­cently went on an all-ex­penses paid trip, and is part of the APPG on China, make his com­ments all the more stag­ger­ing.

“Ca­sual racism and big­otry are se­ri­ous is­sues that a se­ri­ous leader wouldn’t need to think twice about, and Richard Leonard shouldn’t need me to re­mind to him of that.

“We need deeds not words and at the very least, the whip should be with­drawn and Hugh Gaffney sus­pended from the party.”

Dur­ing a visit to Scot­land on Mon­day, Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn con­demned Mr Gaffney’s com­ments as “com­pletely wrong”.

He said:“Hugh has apol­o­gised for what he said. He has been rep­ri­manded for it and is un­der­tak­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate di­ver­sity train­ing.

Mr Cor­byn added: “What he said was com­pletely wrong, of course, but he has recog­nised and un­der­stood that and apol­o­gised, and that’s what we have done.”

Cheers Hugh Gaffney in China

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