A resigned Blairite tries to smooth over the racism row, but gets egg on himself in the process

Chris Leslie on Newsnight
Support us and go ad-free

Blairite Chris Leslie tried to smooth over the racism row that engulfed his new centrist group on 18 February. But the MP for Nottingham East managed to get egg on himself in the process.

Within hours of the formation of the Independent Group, fellow resigned MP Angela Smith appeared to refer to Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people as being a “funny tinge”.

Racism – “a pesky footnote”?

Later in the day, on BBC Newsnight, Leslie tried to downplay the remarks:

Yeah I mean, she made a slip and she has apologised for that. But I mean at the end of the day the issues that we were talking about were not just about antisemitism, were about Brexit, were about national security…

But a number of viewers found the response dismissive and superficial:

In his response, Leslie also said that the problems his group has with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour “root back” to disagreement with what he called a “a narrow outdated ideology”. But despite months of planning, the new centrist group has so far announced zero policies.


In September 2018, a YouGov poll found that just 1% of Labour supporters vote for the party because of their local MP. 88%, meanwhile, said they vote for Labour either because of its policies or values. Nonetheless, seven MPs are quitting the party without calling a by-election to re-contest their seats. Instead, it looks like they’ll simply sit in parliament on their own terms rather than those they were elected on. This reeks of entitlement.

The UK public elected the resigning MPs on Labour’s policy platform. As long as they sit as independents, they are essentially fleecing the taxpayer for a huge ministerial salary and expenses.

On top of that, neither Leslie nor Smith seem too bothered about casual televised racism. No values, no vision, no plan.

Featured image via Newsnight

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us