Cowley Street officials yesterday launched a “comprehensive investigation” into Reading Liberal Democrats over the botched handling of a race row, Political Scrapbook can reveal. The decision to welcome back Cllr Warren Swaine without an apology for offensive comments to a mixed-race Labour MP left black party members exasperated, with one senior councillor threatening to resign.
Rather than address concerns, however, local group leader Daisy Benson attempted to sweep the crisis under the carpet by ignoring phone and email messages on the subject. Swaine’s belated apology — some SIX MONTHS after his “is it because I is black” remark — may now do little to placate ethnic minority members.
“This is not just about Swaine, many of us in the party are completely frustrated with the lack of progress the party is making on the diversity front. These incidents remind us just how far we have to go both on a local and national level.”
With the episode likely to be raised at party conference in September, Reading councillors will now find themselves under scrutiny by figures from across the country:
“The English Party … has now launched a further, comprehensive investigation into the local party and the local council group to ensure that all issues are investigated and dealt with in a robust manner. This investigation will draw on expertise from other regions, including London.”
To think this could have all been avoided with a timely and heartfelt apology.