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Plaid Cymru candidate apologises for ‘unintentional offence’ caused by ‘nasty’ ad

09 Apr 2021 4 minutes Read
The controversial advert. Inset: Plaid candidate Carrie Harper

A Plaid Cymru Senedd candidate has apologised for using language that “unintentionally caused offence” in a political advert.

Carrie Harper, who is standing for the party in Wrexham, posted the public electronic billboard advert on social media which read “Don’t want a Tory for a neighbour? Vote Plaid, not Labour.”

She later deleted the post after coming under fire from other parties who branded the advert “nasty” and “an insult”.

Labour said it was uncomfortably close to a racist slogan used during the notorious Smethwick by-election of 1964. During that election, a slogan was used that used a racist term “if you want a ****** for a neighbour, vote Labour”.

In an article written 50 years on from the campaign in the West Midlands constituency, The Guardian referred to it as “Britain’s most racist election”.

Carrie Harper later apologised for the ad: “Plaid Cymru in Wrexham is campaigning to win and the local team has been trialling messages on the new Mold Rd billboard.

“One of those included the word ‘neighbour’ to reference the fact that the billboard was next to the office of the Conservative MP. We will continue to make our case directly to the people of Wrexham.

“I realise that the language used has unintentionally caused offence, I deeply regret that, and it was in no way the intention. I want to focus on a positive campaign aimed at delivering real change for the community where I grew up and live. The advert in question has now been withdrawn.”

‘Dogwhistle’ 

The Labour Party had earlier said: “Either Plaid are naive and don’t know what this sounds like or it’s a dogwhistle and they don’t care,” Welsh Labour said. “Riffs on Smethwick 1964 slogans should stay in the past.”

They later added: “It should be removed and there should be an investigation into how it was signed off by Plaid Cymru.”

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “I can’t see that the candidate Carrie Harper or Plaid Cymru have posted anything to explain or apologise for yesterday’s political message inspired by the racism of Smethwick. Pretending it hasn’t happened won’t make it go away.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives told Nation.Cymru: “This is an insult to over a half million people who voted Welsh Conservative in 2019.

“If the people of Wrexham want change after 22 years of Labour Government in Wales, and a decent, hard working local MS, they should vote for Jeremy Kent.”

Tim Sly, Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate in Wrexham said: “Slogans like this are horrible, divisive and have no place in politics and those responsible for writing and sharing this slogan should be ashamed.

“Serious questions also need to be asked about the judgement of those who chose this slogan and their suitability to stand for office

“After the suffering that people and businesses in Wrexham have gone through in the last year, serious politicians should be looking for ways to bring our community together, not divide it!”

Leena Sarah Farhat, Welsh Liberal Democrat Candidate in neighbouring Clwyd South added: “Many people passing though Wrexham will see this advert and be deeply offended. I am working to make Welsh politics the best it can be here in North East Wales and this unacceptable behavior by the Plaid Cymru campaign is hurtful to minority communities in Wrexham and across our region.

“We are a diverse region and instead of preaching a politics of division we need to come together to put recovery first as we move out of this pandemic. Plaid Cymru and Carrie Harper should issue a public apology and take this message down”.

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