POLITICS

Local Elections 2013: 'Racist' Leaflet Row Between Labour And Lib Dems In Bristol

30/04/2013 14:19 BST | Updated 30/04/2013 14:33 BST

The Labour Party has complained of racism about a Lib Dem election leaflet - because it points out the Scottishness of one of its candidates.

Lib Dem councillor Steve Comer said he did it to highlight his own local credentials and show voters that the Labour pick did not live in the constituency.

The Liberal Democrats said their candidate had been "defamed" by the racism accusations.

The row has blown up in Bristol, which is gearing up for Thursday's local elections.

scottish leaflet

The offending leaflet referred to Mhairi Threlfall as "Labour's candidate from Scotland (and St Paul's)".

St Paul's is another part of Bristol, about a mile from the Eastville ward being contested.

Darren Lewis, chairman of the Bristol Labour Party, told the Bristol Post: "It is racist and any party pushing it is racist."

He said: "I'm disappointed but not surprised that Steve Comer and the Lib Dems have chosen to emphasise a candidate's nationality in their election leaflets.

"Ability and integrity not nationality and ethnicity are the determining factors for a great local councillor."

During last year's mayoral elections, Lewis accused independent candidate George Ferguson of racism when he asked whether a comment sounded "Irish".

Tim Kent, the leader of the Lib Dems in Bristol, called on Lewis to withdraw his latest comments.

He said: "Steve has been defamed by these accusations of racism. There is no intention at all to imply there is something wrong with being Scottish.

"It makes no negative comments at all about her origins. What it does do is point out she lives in St Paul's and doesn't have the same kind of connection to Eastville as Steve does."

Comer told the Bristol Post: "What I'm doing is trying to contrast our different records in the ward.

"I don't think its essential to be from the ward or live there, but you need to have a stake in the area you represent and a record on local issues."

The leaflet says Comer was "Born and raised in Bristol, went to local schools, lives in this area, uses local shops, buses and services."

Labour's candidate, it says, "lived in Scotland most of her life, now lives in St Paul's.

"Used to pass through this area on the bus to university."

Threlfall did not comment on the row, telling the paper: "How Steve Comer chooses to conduct himself is a matter for his own conscience."