Layla Moran Admits Jar Jar Binks Tweet 'Mistake', And Calls For Lib Dem BAME Targets

Leadership candidate tells HuffPost UK that local parties should have representation targets as Black Lives Matter protests continue.

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Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Layla Moran has admitted she made a “mistake” when she mimicked an allegedly racist Star Wars character on Twitter.

The MP told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast she was “mortified” when Lib Dem supporters pointed out that Jar Jar Binks, the much-derided character from the Star Wars prequels, had “racist overtones”.

The character has faced criticism as an example of minstrelsy and a parody of Caribbean and west African patois, and Moran was forced to delete a 1am tweet in which she mimicked his speech in reply to former leader Tim Farron.

In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, Moran also admitted her party was too white and middle class and called for targets at local party level for Black and ethnic minority (BAME) representation.

Asked about the Jar Jar Binks tweet, Moran told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast: “I was absolutely mortified, I had not made the connection between Jar Jar Binks and the racist overtones frankly of that character.

“I tweeted in response to something Tim Farron had said and I think it was about 1am so there’s probably a don’t tweet at 1am message to be learned here.

“But as soon as members told me there was that connotation I took it down, I contacted them, I apologised to them, it was a mistake and I was absolutely mortified that I’d done that inadvertently.”

Jar Jar Binks
Jar Jar Binks

Moran said the episode showed that it was right to reassess films, TV shows and culture from the past as society gets more progressive.

“I remember at the time people going I don’t like him as a character - I didn’t realise then the connotations between Black history that he was representing,” Moran said.

“And it made me think: would a character like this be created now? Obviously I hope not.

“Little Britain was taken down this week, we saw that too.

“It’s right that as society gets more progressive and as society gets more enlightened that we take account of that.

“I will not be tweeting or saying anything about Jar Jar Binks again.”

Moran also admitted that the Lib Dems have “failed” so far on diversity as she called for local targets for BAME representation.

Lib Dem leadership candidate Layla Moran
Lib Dem leadership candidate Layla Moran
NurPhoto via Getty Images

“We join clubs where people in the clubs already look like you,” Moran said.

“And we are, many political parties are, but we are as well - well educated, white, middle class, male, a bit older - that’s the classic look of the party.

“We need to attract people to our party by reaching out to them.

“I think we need to stop being so complacent about it.

“And the reason I think it’s quite hard in the Lib Dems to make the case for this - although Black Lives Matter has really helped - is that we are a party that naturally believes in equality, it is one of the central tenets of liberalism, it’s something we are really proud of.

“And so for people to then say we are not doing good enough in this area doesn’t work in our own psyche.”

Moran did not back Liverpool university’s decision to rename a building named after former prime minister William Gladstone due to his links to the slave trade, insisting the Liberal government he headed was “very progressive”.

But she urged the government to issue guidance to local authorities to help them initiate reviews of monuments to historical figures, after Bristol protesters tore down a statue to slave trader Edward Colston after years of attempting to get it removed by the council.

“All political parties have this as part of their history,” Moran said.

“Gladstone himself wasn’t a slaver, it was his father.

“The Liberals under Gladstone were actually very progressive for their time.

“But I think the issue more generally around should we as a country be confronting this? Absolutely.”


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