Wales politics

UKIP-Labour row over avoiding racism in local elections

Neil Hamilton
Image caption Neil Hamilton wanted to amend the cross-party statement

Labour and UKIP AMs have blamed each other after failing to agree an all-party anti-racism pledge.

The statement urges local election candidates not to address immigration in a way that builds resentment against different races or nationalities.

Labour said all the assembly party leaders, apart from UKIP's Neil Hamilton, had backed the statement.

UKIP said it wanted a version making clear the majority of people concerned about immigration "are not racists".

The introduction to the 366-word statement begins: "All local authorities in Wales will be subject to elections on 4 May 2017.

"They are taking place against a backdrop of heightened attention being given to immigration and its impact, both in Britain and internationally.

"Local government has a vital role to play in caring for migrants and asylum seekers, particularly with new people coming unexpectedly to their area in need of council services.

"In this situation, it is vital that candidates for election avoid addressing the issue in a way which serves to build up resentment against those of different nationality or race."

The statement continues: "Racism has absolutely no place in Wales. We are united in this message."

Image caption The statement was sent to UKIP by Labour's Jane Hutt

Labour said it had a "shared vision" - with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Liberal Democrats - of Wales as a vibrant, tolerant and welcoming place to live and "only the UKIP leader declined to sign-up to the joint statement".

Responding, a spokesman for UKIP said Labour was "incorrect".

"UKIP was happy to sign up to the following statement sent to us by the Leader of the House, Jane Hutt AM," he said.

"UKIP condemns racism in every shape and form."

The spokesman said the party wanted to add an amendment to the statement "to make it clear, however, that the overwhelming majority of people in Wales who are concerned about immigration are not racists".

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