12 Mar 2015

Farage: should Ukip scrap race discrimination laws?

Nigel Farage sparks a Twitter row after calling to scrap “much of” race discrimination legislation in a Channel 4 documentary, due to be shown next week.

The Ukip leader has come under attack by party leaders after calling for laws banning racial discrimination to be axed, with David Cameron branding the comments “deeply concerning” and Ed Miliband calling them “wrong, divisive and dangerous”.

But Nigel Farage hit back saying that the law as it stands, does not protect British workers “black or white”.

Mr Farage was forced to defend comments he made in a Channel 4 documentary: Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True, with ex-equalities watchdog chief Trevor Phillips, due to be shown next week. Mr Farage said concern over preventing racial discrimination in employment “would probably have been valid” 40 years ago.

“If I talked to my children… about the question of race, they wouldn’t know what I was talking about,” he was reported to have gone on to say. He said he would get rid of “much of” existing legislation.

Asked if he retain bans on discrimination on the grounds of race or colour, he said: “No… because we take the view, we are colour-blind. We as a party are colour-blind.”

However, Mr Farage posted a series of a tweets following the remarks, claiming that the comments had been “misinterpreted”:

He also reportedly called for recruitment laws to change: “I think the situation that we now have, where an employer is not allowed to choose between a British-born person and somebody from Poland, is a ludicrous state of affairs.

“I would argue that the law does need changing, and that if an employer wishes to choose, or you can use the word ‘discriminate’ if you want to, but wishes to choose to employ a British-born person, they should be allowed to do so.”

The Ukip leader said he heard that Labour’s shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan was “upset” by the comments.

Mr Khan criticised Mr Farage saying things were still far from perfect”: “This is one of the most shocking things I have ever heard from a mainstream politician and demonstrates breathtaking ignorance.

“We have made huge progress on tackling racial inequality and discrimination in this country, partly because of Labour’s strong anti-discrimination laws, but things are still far from perfect.”

“When my parents moved to London they frequently saw signs saying ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’; what Ukip is suggesting would take us back to those days.”