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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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David Blunkett slams 'male-dominated Labour leadership' over Sarah Champion's sacking

3 min read

David Blunkett has condemned Jeremy Corbyn for sacking Sarah Champion after she said the UK has “a problem” with British-Pakistani men abusing vulnerable white girls.

The former Labour Cabinet minister said the party's “male-dominated leadership” were more concerned with being politically correct than protecting children at risk.

Ms Champion was forced to resign as shadow equalities minister on Wednesday following intense criticism over her comments, which she made in an article for The Sun.

In the piece, the Rotherham MP said: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”

The column was published after 17 men and one woman were convicted over the abuse of girls, some as young as 14, in Newcastle.

After it sparked a furious backlash from Labour activists, Ms Champion tried to claim her piece had been amended by The Sun. But it later emerged that an aide had written to the newspaper saying the MP was “thrilled” with the article.

In her resignation statement, she said: “I am concerned that my continued position in the Shadow Cabinet would distract from the crucial issues around child protection which I have campaigned on my entire career.”

In an article for the Daily Mail, Lord Blunkett said he was “aghast” at how Ms Champion had been treated.

He said: “My party, the Labour party, has always sought to stand up for those who are exploited, damaged or treated badly – whatever their position in life.

“Equality is not only about creating a fair economy. It is just as important to face down misogyny and the male domination of women. It is therefore extremely sad and quite unacceptable that it should be the Labour party seeking to portray genuine debate as somehow equivalent to racism. It is not.

“The party's male-dominated leadership, ever mindful of political correctness, is currently unforgiving of dissension. In the past, our great party has always been open to critical thinking. It has welcomed debate from all sides.

“Yet now the Labour party has seen one of its outstanding female MPs take a stance against evil that was widely acknowledged as brave and coherent – and then suffer demotion under undoubted pressure to recant her words.”

The Labour peer added: “The Sarah Champions of our world should be applauded, not silenced, when they seek to protect the most vulnerable people in our society from exploitation. All of us, of every faith and background, must be willing to stand alongside her.

“Let's hope that events over the past few days will cause the Labour leadership to think again and return the party to its long-held values of open thinking and genuine debate. If this doesn't happen, immense damage will be inflicted not just on Labour – but on democracy itself.”

Speaking yesterday, Mr Corbyn accused Ms Champion of trying to “label a whole community” and insisted it was right that she had gone.

He added: “Much crime is committed by white people; crime is committed by people of other communities as well. I think it is wrong to designate an entire community as a problem.”

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