Oh dear. Labour has been forced to suspend a leadership candidate for the Unite trade union from the party after he demanded that Home Secretary Priti Patel be deported. Left winger Howard Becket is in the running to replace the incumbent Len McCluskey but somewhat overstepped over the mark on Twitter yesterday in his attempts to prove his socialist credentials.
Responding to a Home Office attempt to deport two asylum seekers in Glasgow, Beckett wrote: 'Priti Patel should be deported, not refugees. She can go along with anyone else who supports institutional racism. She is disgusting.' Beckett, who is currently the union’s assistant general secretary and a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee subsequently issued a grovelling apology and deleted the message following criticism.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) May 13, 2021
My earlier tweet, deleted after half an hour, was never intended to be literal. My intention was to emphasise that racist policies should be rejected & have no place in society. The wording was wrong, offensive & I apologise unreservedly to Priti Patel. No one should be deported.
Gurinder Singh Josan, a fellow member of Labour’s NEC and Unite, wrote in response: 'Howard showing his true colours? I totally disagree on pretty much everything with Priti Patel but this is simply dog whistle racism against a woman of colour. Delete this now!'
Suspension from the Labour Party followed shortly thereafter but even that has triggered another backlash after a Labour source told the BBC 'Keir is prising McCluskey’s cold, dead hand from the Labour Party' prompting Guardian columnist Owen Jones to claim: 'They don’t care about racism. They don’t even understand what it is. They just see an opportunity to gain factional advantage.'