Cambridge Area Momentum supports the following statement:
Cambridge Stand Up to Racism believes that all forms of racism are totally unacceptable, and for this reason was appalled to learn that our newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, has refused to apologise unconditionally for anti traveller comments he made in the past and when challenged on a number of occasions he has dismissed his comments as ‘pub banter’.
We should never forget that Gypsies were one of the main victims of the Nazi holocaust. Even today they are one of the most discriminated against groups in Europe.
In 1999 the McPherson report concluded that the police were institutionally racist. Nearly 20 years later, is it really acceptable for the person elected to hold the force to account, to make light of using racist language, and then to refuse to apologise? As someone who is responsible for setting policing priorities we can have no confidence in his judgement or ability to do so without discrimination. The election of Mr Ablewhite has set policing in Cambridgeshire back years.
Use of the word ‘pikey’ is not, as Mr Ablewhite, suggests, just harmless ‘banter’. We agree with gold medallist event rider Phoebe Buckley, whose family is “old school Romani Gypsy,” who said that the use of such derogatory language from a leading public official risks making such opinions respectable. “Jason Ablewhite threw the word ‘pikey’ around and I just don’t believe he would think it was OK to use [similar terms towards] any other ethnic minority”.
The use of the term is deeply offensive. Comments such as those of Mr Ablewhite have had terrible repercussions on families like Ms Buckley’s, who said her parents are not registered to vote because they feel that politicians “wouldn’t take them seriously.” Such derogatory language risks reinforcing the marginalisation of this community, making them second class citizens.
Gypsy Roma Travellers are the biggest ethnic minority in the county; these remarks are of grave concern, and call his competency into question. We therefore agree with The National Alliance of Gypsy Traveller and Roma Women and call on the chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Feldman, to suspend Mr Ablewhite pending investigation or an unequivocal statement condemning anti traveller racism and undertaking to treat all sections of the community equitably.