by Atul Hatwal
Another day, another shambolic intervention from Labour’s leader. This time it was about Nigel Farage and racism.
When asked the inevitable question on the Today programme, Ed Miliband said,
“I believe what Nigel Farage said a couple of days ago was deeply offensive. I said it was a ‘racial slur’. I think, though, our politics is disagreeable enough without political leaders saying about other political leaders ‘They’re a racist’.”
It’s excruciating. Ed Miliband might have been dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge that Farage’s comments were a “racial slur,” but his refusal to follow through on his own logic and say that Farage was being racist is ludicrous.
The implication of Ed Miliband’s interview is that Nigel Farage can say whatever he likes, no matter how prejudiced or bigoted, and it still won’t be enough for the Labour leader to call him a racist.
It’s almost as if the Labour leader finds the act of calling someone a racist more disagreeable than the racism itself.
Contrast this with two interventions this lunchtime.
First, David Lammy on the Daily Politics. Same question, different answer.
“What Nigel Farage said over the weekend was racist. So I’m clear, he’s a racist.”
And then there was Yvette Cooper on ITV News,
“It’s not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls, but it is racist to some how stir up fears about Romanians living next door. So Ukip should say they were wrong on that.”
Both Yvette Cooper and David Lammy are absolutely clear on condemning Nigel Farage’s racism. No caveats, attempts to soften the criticism or shy away from the ‘R’ word.
On the central issue in the European election campaign, Ukip’s racism, the Labour leader is now hopelessly isolated. Senior backbenchers like David Lammy, and senior frontbenchers like Yvette Cooper are both taking a very different line from him. His authority and judgement are in question on this, and a raft of other issues, as never before.
If Ukip beat Labour on Thursday in the European election, expect much of the dissent currently rumbling just beneath the surface across both the right and left of the PLP, to explode into public view.
Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut