Friday, 16 March 2018 14:25


Humza Yousaf MSP has called for Councillor Jim Dempster of Dumfries and Galloway Council to stand down, pending the investigation of an alleged Islamophobic remark made in the presence of transport officials.

Cllr Dempster, who was suspended by Scottish Labour last night, made the slur during a meeting with transport officials on Tuesday 13th March after learning that Mr Yousaf had recently been in the village of Springholm to discuss transport issues. Cllr Dempster allegedly responded:

“He may have been at Springholm but no one would have seen him under his Burka.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is being criticised for double standards after refusing to suspend Hugh Gaffney MP, a friend of “over two decades”, following his bigoted speech, because the MP had admitted to racism straight away.

Mr Gaffney's speech came just days after Anas Sarwar revealed he had suffered racist abuse while standing for Scottish Labour leader, and only a month after Richard Leonard suggested that he was prepared to allow the suspended Aberdeen Labour councillors back into the party, as the group contained "personal friends.”

Commenting on the incident, Humza Yousaf said:

“It is beginning to look like Richard Leonard has one rule for his pals and another for everyone else as the racist incidents plaguing Scottish Labour continue to unfold.

"I have written to Richard Leonard demanding he takes serious and credible action, and while it is fit and proper that Cllr Dempster has been suspended pending an investigation, if he is found guilty of these remarks, which I am certain he is, then he must be permanently expelled from Scottish Labour.

“The Scottish Labour party have refused to admit whether or not Hugh Gaffney had already undergone diversity training before his racist outburst, which makes a mockery of this so-called punishment.

"Richard Leonard has recently said he has zero tolerance for Islamophobia, now is the time for deeds not words.

"Jim Dempster should do the honourable thing and resign as a Councillor. As elected members we are rightly held up to the highest standards. Using hate speech of any kind in such a deliberate and malicious way is simply not acceptable and makes Cllr Dempster's position untenable.

"The fact Cllr Dempster was able to make such hate filled remarks, in a meeting with Government officials and members of the public present shows how emboldened those with Islamophobic views are.

“Islamophobes and racists will never silence me and I will challenge them at every possible opportunity. Collectively, we all have a duty to root out hatred wherever we see it and from whoever espouses it."

Mr Yousaf has also stated his intention to report the incident to Police Scotland, to investigate if a hate crime has been committed, and will submit an official complaint to Dumfries and Galloway Council.

1. Letter from Humza Yousaf MSP to Richard Leonard, leader of Scottish Labour, calling for investigation of Cllr Dempster’s alleged remarks, and his expulsion from the Labour Party if found to be guilty:
Councillor suspended over Islamaphobic slur about Humza Yousaf:
3. In last year’s Scottish leadership contest, Mr Gaffney backed Mr Leonard against Mr Sarwar. Mr Leonard said he was “delighted” by the endorsement, while Mr Gaffney said: “Richard and I have been friends for over two decades and I know him to be a man of honour, decency and hard work. Together we founded the Keir Hardie Society in 2010.

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