Tory MP blasted for 'racist' tweet blaming Scottish Labour's failures on Richard Leonard's accent
A Tory MP from the north of England has been criticised for a tweet blaming the leader of Scottish Labour’s accent as the reason for the party’s decline.
Dehenna Davison, who represents the town of Bishop Auckland, near Durham, was labelled racist by a SNP councillor and criticised by her own party for the remark.
She said: “Watching @SophyRidgeSky and she is discussing why the Labour Party isn’t doing well in Scotland.
"I think I’ve got to the bottom of it… The Scottish Labour Leader... has a broad Lancashire accent
“No word of a lie, he sounds like he could be the Speaker’s brother.”
Richard Leonard soon corrected the MP, pointing out his accent is Yorkshire due to his upbringing in North Yorkshire, and said Scotland had been his home for four decades after he arrived for university.
He said on Twitter: “I came to study at Stirling University four decades ago. Scotland has been my home ever since. And it’s a broad Yorkshire accent, as it happens.
The remark from Ms Davison was criticised by the Scottish Conservatives as “unacceptable” who said it played into the “divisive politics” they argue is promoted by the SNP.
A spokesman for the party said: “The reason Labour have no credibility or relevance in Scotland, as their own MP Ian Murray has said, has got nothing to do with Richard Leonard’s accent. This criticism is unacceptable. It plays into the kind of divisive politics that the SNP promote.”
SNP MP Neil Gray said: “This is really poor. Thankfully most people in Scotland couldn’t give a hoot about accents, & care more about what you contribute. Having campaigned in elections against Richard, without personal malice in either direction, his accent has never come up once in Airdrie & Shotts.”
SNP MSP and justice secretary Humza Yousaf joked: “Richard Leonard has ninety-nine problems but his accent ain't one” while an SNP councillor said the tweet was racist.
Cllr Michelle Campbell who sits as an SNP councillor on Renfrewshire Council said: “Racism as casual as you like, alive and well in this democracy...
“This is racism. This exacerbates the issue. It is ignorance. An MP should not be required to have this pointed out.”
Scottish Tory MSPs Jamie Halcro Johnston and Dean Lockhart also commented, saying Mr Leonard’s accent was “irrelevant”.
Mr Halcro Johnston said: “Richard Leonard’s accent isn’t the reason (nor should it be in our United Kingdom) why Scottish Labour are struggling so badly. It’s their lack of ideas, internal divisions and their conspicuous lack of opposition to the SNP’s plans to break up the UK.”
Dean Lockhart added: “In fairness, Richard Leonard’s accent is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he leads a party in a poor third position in Scottish politics and has continued to fail to stand up to the SNP in their relentless push for separation.”
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