Ex-Labour councillor censured after “homophobic” remarks

Alasdair Clark

An ex-Labour Councillor has been censured after describing an LGBT campaigner as “deviant”

A FORMER Scottish Labour councillor was censured by the standards watchdog on Tuesday after a comment he made online in 2016 describing an LGBT campaigner who supported independence as “deviant”.

The veteran councillor served on Dumfries and Galloway Council for over 20 years. He was suspended by the Labour party after his remarks and failed in his re-election bid to the council after standing as an independent in May 2017. 

Dr Belle Doyle, who works in the creative industries, told the standards watchdog she felt threatened by the “menacing” comment. 

Ruling on the case, the Standards Commission for Scotland said it would have suspended McAughtrie if he had still been a serving councillor. 

Scottish Labour confirmed to Commonspace that McAughtrie had resigned his party membership some time ago and had since stood against the party. 

The re-emergence of the case will come at a difficult time for Scottish Labour after it emerged an MP had made homophobic and racist remarks at a Burns supper. 

Hugh Gaffney MP, a close ally of Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, was ordered to undertake equality and diversity training after his remarks at the Scottish Labour students Burns supper were revealed. 

Anas Sarwar also claimed earlier this month that a councillor, Davie McLachlan, had made islamophobic remarks to him during the bitter leadership election in 2017 that saw trade union stalwart Richard Leonard elected as the party’s leader. 

Read more: Richard Leonard elected as new leader of Scottish Labour

It is alleged the councillor had told the party’s only Asian MSP that Scotland “wasn’t ready for a brown, Muslim, Paki”.

McLachlan, who denies the remarks, was suspended by the party whilst the claims are investigated. 

Speaking to Commonspace, party members were concerned that Gaffney had not been suspended by the party, and the SNP MSP Humza Yousaf described Gaffney’s reprimand as “barely a tickle on the wrist”.

Referring to the row, Humza Yousaf told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland: “That kind of weak action from Richard Leonard actually is a slap in the face of every single ethnic minority in the country.”

A source close to Leonard told Commonspace that Gaffney had not been suspended because, unlike McLachlan, he had admitted his error and offered a full apology. 

“That kind of weak action from Richard Leonard actually is a slap in the face of every single ethnic minority in the country.” Humza Yousaf MSP

Following the revelations, the party announced an “eight-point plan” which it says will stamp out intolerance within the party. Announcing the plans, Leonard said: “The Labour Party is the party of equality. There is no place for racial, gender or other forms of discrimination or harassment in our party.
“Under my leadership, I will work to build a society free from all forms of sexism, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, discrimination against disabled people and bigotry and prejudice in all their manifestations.

“Diversity enriches our political priorities and policy making. This is why I have made a commitment to invest in developing future candidates and activists who are women, BAME, LGBTI, people experiencing a disability, and other under-represented groups not just when there is an election, but all year round.
“Having led on positive action by introducing All Women Shortlists for the next round of parliamentary selections, my leadership will ensure that fair representation is finally achieved.”

Picture courtesy of Scottish Labour

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