Nigel Farage’s Romania comments show he is ‘clearly a racist’, says Labour MP David Lammy

Member for Tottenham describes own leader Ed Miliband’s distinction ‘between a racist slur and racism’ as ‘pedantic’

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The Independent Online

A senior Labour MP has insisted that Nigel Farage’s comments about Romanian immigrants make it “clear he’s a racist”, dismissing party leader Ed Miliband’s refusal to describe him in such terms as “pedantic”.

The Ukip leader has been criticised by members from all the other main UK political parties this weekend after he said in a car-crash interview on LBC Radio that he would feel “uncomfortable” if a Romanian family moved in next door to him.

David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, described how his parents had arrived in the country as immigrants and experienced similar offensive comments.

He told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme: “I remember a context in which some people said, ‘you don't want these people living next door to you’ – that was racist.

“What Nigel Farage said over the weekend was racist,” Mr Lammy said. “So I’m clear, he’s a racist.”

Mr Miliband, Mr Lammy’s party leader, said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that what Mr Farage had said on Friday was a “slur” and “completely out of order”, but stopped short of describing his Ukip counterpart as “a racist”.

He said: “I think our politics is disagreeable enough without political leaders saying about other political leaders ‘they are a racist’.”

When asked if Mr Miliband was “brave enough” in his description, Mr Lammy said: “It’s not helpful to get into a pedantic discussion about the difference between a racist slur and racism.

“He [Farage] is the leader of a national party, he should not be slurring whole communities of Romanians who come to this country and describing them somehow as bandits and criminals.

“It’s deeply, deeply nasty,” Mr Lammy said. “It’s the sort of thing we’ve seen before in Europe, in times of recession and depression, and we must take that kind of slur extremely seriously.”

Yesterday Mr Farage told BBC News he had been “tired” when he made the comments live on radio.

He has since taken out a full-page advert in the Daily Telegraph in which he described Ukip as “not a racist party”, before going on to quote a series of police figures linking Romanians with ATM crime and organised gangs.