Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is “duplicitous” and a “hypocrite” when it comes to tackling racism within his party, Scotland’s Justice Secretary has said.
Humza Yousaf launched a fierce attack on Mr Corbyn and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, saying they both “completely failed” to deal with a Labour councillor who made racist comments about him in March.
Councillor Jim Dempster apologised after he said of Mr Yousaf – who was then the transport minister – that “no-one would have seen him under his burka” to Transport Scotland officials.
Mr Yousaf hit out on Twitter, saying six months had now passed since Mr Dempster was suspended from the party after he “admitted Islamophobia”.
The Justice Secretary said: “He should have been expelled. What have Labour done in 6 months? Zero, zilch, nada.
“Let’s call Corbyn out – he is utterly duplicitous when it comes to tackling racism in his own Party.
“He says many warm words then fails miserably to follow it up with any action. He is a hypocrite and has been exposed as one time and time again.”
Mr Yousaf challenged Labour leaders north and south of the border to act, tweeting: “To @jeremycorbyn & @LabourRichard – it’s easy to turn up to anti-racism demos & take pics with minorities. Real test is fighting plague of racism & bigotry that exists within your own movement, on that measure you have both completely failed. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
“Ps: I’m usually a pretty calm guy, but yeah I’m pissed off. Demonstrates once again structural bias that exists in society. Switch my race with Dempster’s and imagine it was a White Govt Minister that had been racially abused by an Asian Cllr – he would’ve been expelled long ago.”
At the time Mr Dempster said he was “deeply sorry” for the comment, and told how he had requested further diversity training and had visited a local mosque – although Mr Yousaf dismissed this as a “tokenistic photo opp”.
Mr Dempster has now been referred to Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, after an internal party investigation into the matter.
It is understood Mr Yousaf and others were not contacted as part of this as Mr Dempster admitted the remark.
Mr Corbyn told BBC Scotland the case was “being dealt with”, stressing Labour “do not tolerate racism in any form in our society”.
He added: “The issues that face us all are the need to be united and not allow racism to fester any more than we would allow the far-right to rise anywhere across this country.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman stated: “The Labour Party takes any allegation of racism extremely seriously.
“All complaints about Islamophobia are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
This comes amid claims that Labour has failed to adequately tackle a backlog of disciplinary cases regarding antisemitism, following a joint letter sent by the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, raising the issue. “Outstanding and future cases to be brought to a swift conclusion under a fixed timescale. An independent, mutually agreed ombudsman should be appointed to oversee performance, reporting to the Party and to the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council”, they wrote.
Earlier in September, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson suggested that the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby, should quit if the antisemitism row that has engulfed the party over the summer is not over by Christmas.