UK

Ed Miliband condemns David Starkey's race comments

  • 15 August 2011
  • From the section UK

Labour leader Ed Miliband has described historian David Starkey's comments on race as "disgusting and outrageous".

Mr Starkey told BBC Two's Newsnight "whites have become black" after four days of rioting across England.

Mr Starkey added that "a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion".

Mr Miliband said these were "racist comments, frankly, and there is no place for them in our society".

Speaking at Haverstock School, his former school in Chalk Farm in London, Mr Miliband also said it was "absolutely outrageous that someone in the 21st Century could be making that sort of comment".

He added: "There should be condemnation from every politician, from every political party of those sorts of comments."

Mr Starkey was being interviewed as part of a panel on BBC2's Newsnight on Friday when he made his controversial remarks.

He said: "I think what this week has shown is that profound changes have happened... there has been a profound cultural change. I have just been re-reading Enoch Powell, the 'rivers of blood' speech.

"His prophecy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber didn't foam with blood, but flames lambent wrapped around Tottenham, wrapped around Clapham.

"But it wasn't intercommunal violence. This was where he [Enoch Powell] was completely wrong.

'Foreign country'

'What has happened is that the substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black. The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.

"Black and white, boy and girl operate in this language together. This language, which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that's been intruded in England.

"This is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country."

Mr Starkey added: "Listen to David Lammy [Labour MP for Tottenham] an archetypal successful black man.

"If you turn the screen off, so you were listening to him on radio, you would think he was white."

Mr Lammy has since called Dr Starkey's views "irrelevant".

The two other authors who were also on the Newsnight panel on Friday with Mr Starkey have responded to his comments.

Viewer complaints

In the Guardian, Dreda Say Mitchell called Mr Starkey's views random and confused but says "most people will realise this".

While Owen Jones suggested in the New Statesman that Mr Starkey's comments could provoke dangerous repercussions.

However another author, Toby Young, has come to Mr Starkey's defence, blogging on the Daily Telegraph website that the historian was not being racist.

He said: "Starkey wasn't talking about black culture in general, but, as he was anxious to point out, a 'particular form' of black culture, i.e. 'the violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture' associated with Jamaican gangs and American rap music."

The BBC said Mr Starkey's comments had prompted complaints from 696 viewers by Thursday afternoon, who felt they were "inappropriate and racially offensive".

The BBC said: "Whilst we acknowledge that some people will have found David Starkey's comments offensive he was robustly challenged by presenter Emily Maitlis and the other contributors who took issue with his comments.

"Owen Jones particularly highlighted that many people listening would find the views expressed offensive, and Emily provided further context making it clear that David Cameron had said this was not a race issue and that people taking part in the riots came from a range of ethnic backgrounds."

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