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.”
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/12 Neil Hamilton
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2/12 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
3/12 Natasha Bolter
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4/12 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
5/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
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6/12 Janice Atkinson
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7/12 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
8/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
9/12 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
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10/12 Magnus Nielsen
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11/12 London Live make-up
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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.