Scottish Labour leader condemns senior party official over 'anti-Catholic' remark

Posted On: 
24th September 2018

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has condemned one of the party's most senior figures over an "anti-Catholic" remark he made to a female member.

Andy Kerr asked a Labour delegate if she had "crossed herself".
PA Images

Andy Kerr, chair of Labour's National Executive Committee asked the delegate whether she had "crossed herself" after calling her to speak in a debate at the party's conference in Liverpool.

Labour MPs were among those who criticised for the comment, with one telling PoliticsHome: "I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A casual gratuitous anti-Catholic insult from the chair of Labour Party conference."

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Mr Kerr later apologised "unreservedly" for the comment and said: "I was trying to be lighthearted but what I said was ill-judged and wrong."

Asked about the remarks, Mr Leonard told BBC Radio Scotland: "I completely disavow that. There is absolutely no room inside the Labour party for that kind of remark, whether it's meant as a form of humour or not.

"It's completely unaccpetable and Andy Kerr has unreservedly apologised for the remark that he made."

The row is especially damaging for Labour in Scotland, where the party needs too win back thousands of Catholic voters who switched to the SNP in the wake of the independence referendum.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Tory chief Ruth Davidson both waded into the row on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Catholics For Labour group said Mr Kerr's comments were "foolish at best, divisive at worst".