Labour will now withdraw and destroy an election leaflet that made pledges about “dealing with Traveller incursions” after heavy criticism.
Charlotte Nichols, the shadow minister for women and equalities, said she wanted to “unreservedly apologise” for the offence she had caused to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
The MP tweeted pictures on Thursday of herself and activists distributing the leaflet for upcoming local elections in her Warrington North constituency in Cheshire.
However, after being challenged on social media, Nichols initially said she wasn’t aware of the meaning of “incursion” or its negative connotation.
On Friday morning she said that she could “understand concerns raised about the language” used in the election leaflet, adding that the terminology around “incursions” appeared to be widely used in legal and local government contexts and she was unaware of its “problematic definition”.
After the criticism continued, Nichols tweeted a new statement that said: “I have spoken to the local Labour party, the leaflet has been withdrawn and the leaflet will be destroyed. I regret that this leaflet has been distributed in the town. The leaflet is not in line with my personal values or those of the Labour party.”
A statement: pic.twitter.com/PDYsaHwmJV— Charlotte Nichols (@charlotte2153) April 2, 2021
Laura Pidcock, former Labour MP for North West Durham, described the leaflets as a “disgrace.
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley called it ‘vile and obviously racist’ and asked Sir Keir Starmer to condemn the leaflet and ‘take appropriate disciplinary action.’
It comes after the passing of the Government’s police, crime, courts and sentencing bill in the House of Commons which hands new powers to police with regards to traveller encampments.
The brutal truth is prejudice and bigotry against Travellers, Roma and Gypsies is absolutely rampantly permissible and acceptable in society, and the fact that Labour MPs tap into it – including those supposedly hailing from the left – is completely nauseating.— Owen Jones ? (@OwenJones84) April 2, 2021
Labour are fighting all the wrong battles at the moment. https://t.co/6weuG27NaW— Tim Walker (@ThatTimWalker) April 2, 2021
?? Yesterday: the Tory government's useless report declared "there is no structural racism in the 'UK'"— Northern Independence Party ?? (@FreeNorthNow) April 2, 2021
?? Today: the Labour party is delivering leaflets promising more structural racism against travellers.
?? Labour are reactionary. Do not support them. pic.twitter.com/pBShIiBnTL
‘Dealing with traveller incursions’— Laura Smith (@LauraSmithCrewe) April 2, 2021
Replace the word traveller with any other race.
When will Labour remember that it promised to fight for equality and tackle racism??
The situation facing Travellers in Britain and Ireland:— Ronan Burtenshaw (@ronanburtenshaw) April 2, 2021
50% not living to 40 years of age; 1 in 5 losing children in childbirth; 65% of kids not completing basic schooling.
It is not an inconvenience, it is shameful and a scandal. That’s the only acceptable left-wing position.
Two weeks ago I raised a number of interventions against the current policing bill because of its discrimination against Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. I got Labour members (on “left” and “right”) telling me “why are you defending these people”. https://t.co/EFy9jNoze7— Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP??️? (@lloyd_rm) April 2, 2021
Solidarity to all Gypsy, Roma Traveller people. While the government seeks to pass the horrendous Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill, the Labour Party should be standing with you, not pushing anti GRT rhetoric on the doorstep.— Ellen Morrison (@ellenlmorrison) April 2, 2021