Glasgow & West Scotland

Leonard pledges to drive racism out of Scottish Labour

Richard Leonard
Image caption Mr Leonard spoke at the event which was part of an international day of action

The leader of Scottish Labour has pledged to take action to drive racism out of the party.

Richard Leonard was speaking at an anti-racism rally in Glasgow a day after a Labour councillor was suspended for making islamophobic comments against the SNP's Humza Yousaf.

Hundreds of people marched in Glasgow to protest against all prejudice based on race, colour, creed and gender.

The demonstration was part of the UN's international anti-racism day.

Organisers, Stand Up to Racism Scotland, said that about 1,500 campaigners from a coalition of civic organisations, trade unions, political groups and others took to the streets.

They were protesting against the "rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the scapegoating of refugees and migrants".

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators faced off during the march but police said there had been no arrests.

The demonstrators marched from Holland Square to George Square in Glasgow, where Mr Leonard addressed a rally.

He added: "We need to build unity between young and old, between black and white.

"In the fight to rid our society of racism, we cannot be moderate, we cannot be patient, we need to be impatient and angry in our pursuit of justice and equality.

"And that applies inside the Labour Party just as much as in wider society."

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA
Image caption Lawyer Aamar Anwar was among those who attended the anti-racism march

Mr Leonard is under pressure to expel Dumfries and Galloway Labour councillor Jim Dempster who admitted making Islamophobic remarks against Mr Yousaf, the transport secretary.

Mr Dempster had been "stating his opinion" to transport officials at a meeting that Mr Yousaf "did not give much regard to road transport issues in the south west" and had been "largely anonymous in his presence".

A transport official said he had told Mr Dempster that Mr Yousaf attended the South West Transport Conference and had met residents in the village of Springholm.

He said Mr Dempster responded by saying: "He may have been at Springholm but no-one would have seen him under his burka."

The councillor has apologised to Mr Yousaf, saying he was ashamed and embarrassed and could offer no defence or explanation.

But Mr Yousaf said the "Islamophobic outburst" was "utterly outrageous".

In response to Mr Leonard's speech, Mr Yousaf repeated his call for Councillor Dempster's expulsion and said that while he welcomed the Labour leader's rhetoric, Mr Leonard would be judged on actions, not words.

Other speakers at the rally included Labour MSP Anas Sarwar and SNP MP Alison Thewliss.

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