A Tory MP has been accused of “disgraceful and overt racism” following his comments claiming that the “vast majority” of those ignoring lockdown restrictions in his area are from BAME communities.
The comments were made by Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, and came following the government’s decision to enforce a localised lockdown in parts of Northern England.
Mr Whittaker, whose West Yorkshire constituency was involved in the new localised lockdown, said on an LBC radio show that: “What I have seen in my constituency is that there are sections of the community that are not taking the pandemic seriously.”
When asked if his comments were about the Muslim community, he answered: “Of course. If you look at the areas where we’ve seen rises and cases, the vast majority — but not by any stretch of the imagination all areas — it is the BAME communities that are not taking this seriously enough.
He added: “Look at the areas. You’ve got Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees. Bradford and Kirklees have two of the largest populations in West Yorkshire.”
Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, tweeted in response: “Disgraceful and overt racism from this Tory MP blaming black, Asian and minority-ethnic people, the very people whose lives and livelihoods have been the worst hit by Covid-19.”
The new restrictions in northern England, which were announced late last Thursday, hit Muslim communities particularly hard as they were getting ready for Eid al-Adha celebrations, which are considered Islam’s most holy annual celebration.