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Why Are We Tolerating This Language From An MP? Sorry Will Not Do.

27/07/2016 13:18 | Updated 27 July 2016

Like many people, I am still grieving for the loss of what a win for Vote Leave means for the future of our country, the language people see as appropriate to use towards one another, and the Pandora's Box of race hate and xenophobia that has been unleashed as a direct result.

Many a self-identifying racist has told me to "pack my bags and go home", something that began as early as 08.31am on Brexit Day 1 which myself and the police believe was the first incident of this nature as a direct result of the vote. I had just got back home from my local referendum count, I got a tweet telling me to do just that. The wounds that this Vote Leave campaign have inflicted onto British society and culture are deep and will take a long long time to heal - if ever at all.

With this in mind, I am astonished at the language being used by some elected politcians in Wales, if it's not derogatory remarks about women from the Welsh Labour Party then it seems to now be our minority ethnic communities. On the radioI listened to Wayne David, Labour MP for Caerphilly talking about the EU Referendum and the reasons that Caerphilly (where I was born) had voted out.

David, a veteran Labour MP was asked by the presenter "In terms of hard figures, how much of an issue is immigration in Caerphilly?"

He said "Well, in terms of numbers it's not an issue. I mean, I think the only people who have coloured skin, if you like, are people who run takeaways".

Caerphilly is actually diverse and there are many people living and working there from all walks of life. Hearing such unsettling language from a Member of Parliament makes me think there is a wider problem in the Labour party about understanding issues of diversity and equality. It was obvious that he had not said it maliciously and in many ways this made it worse, he said it because as the MP for the area he felt it to be true which is all the more devastating.

Historically, the word "coloured or colored" is associated with segregation, especially in America where black people were kept separate from white people - on public transport, or at drinking fountains which were described as "'colored-only".

What sticks out in my mind is Rosa Parks and her brave move in 1955, when she was sitting in the then named "colored" section of a bus when the driver --moved the sign down a row and demanded that four seated passengers, including Rosa Parks, vacate their seats. Rosa Parks refused to acknowledge the offensive sign and so setting the wheels in motion change. Decades on we should not be hearing this appalling terminology used to describe Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic people in Britain, by an elected representative.

I am proud to be Welsh and proud of my East African Asian heritage. I astounds me that in this country we have some politicians who regard highly offensive racial slurs which recall a time of the civil rights movement and an era of racial segregation as acceptable day to day language. I wonder perhaps the use of this language tells us something deeper about the problems deeper within the current Labour Party.

After I had pointed out the offensive nature of Wayne David's comments, he was forced to issue a statement saying that "I apologise for any offence I may have caused for remarks on the Radio yesterday. Ethnic minorities play a vitally important role in our society." This is disheartening - it's not even a proper apology. When you are elected you have a responsibility to the public. From what I have seen of the Labour Party, I would say that there needs to be some training provided to all elected officials on equality and diversity and there needs to be the very basic understanding of why they need to understand these issues. They are elected to represent diverse communities and so should at the very least be able to understand those communities.

On the issue of reported race hate crimes soaring since the Brexit vote, a Labour Spokespersonin Wales has said "Labour Assembly Members and MPs are solidly behind any agenda that supports minorities. It's important that we represent the interests of our communities and we condemn racism and bigotry." They are not succeeding in this vision- because there own MP in Caerphilly is using highly offensive language which they have not come out to condemn.

At a time when I have personally been urging members of the public to report unpleasant and offensive post-Brexit rhetoric to the police - with the racial hatred and xenophobia spreading across the UK, hearing these words normalised by a elected Member of Parliament is truly is a disaster for community cohesion in all parts of Britain.

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