Cllr Columba Blango has always been semi-detached from reality, but in an extraordinary outburst last night he equated the aims and policy of Labour and the Labour Government on council housing with those of the BNP. What is more extraordinary is that his colleague Cllr Adele Morris, Executive Member for Citisenship, Equalities and Communities (responding to his question) agreed with him completely and even the Leader of the Council nodded his agreement!
Have the LibDems in Southwark taken leave of their senses? Do they know what the BNP policy is on council housing? I've looked it up on their website and can tell you that BNP policy is to make all benefits and social housing only available to British citizens and make the length of residency in an area the key criterion for council house allocation.
It is the sort of inward-looking and racist policy which you would expect from the BNP. But it is not the Government's policy and it is not Labour policy, which bases allocation of council housing on need. We are not an inward looking Party but recognise the challenges which we face in an ever inter-dependent world.
So for Cllrs Blango and Morris to equate Labour with the BNP was wrong, stupid and fundamentally insulting to every Labour member who places equality and the fight against racism as central to their core beliefs. For such an insult to come from Southwark's Executive member with responsibility for this area of work raises a serious question over her fitness to hold that post.
The BNP has always faced united opposition from the main political parties, so it is incredibly disappointing that the LibDems in Southwark have chosen to take this line. I am sure it will only give succour to the BNP. Maybe that is what they intended? I have no explanation for this insulting comparison.
I invited Cllr Stanton to distance himself from the remarks last night, but he would not do so. There was no apology or any contrition from the LibDems.
As soon as I have the transcript of the comments I will be writing to Nick Clegg asking if he agrees with his colleagues in Southwark. I hope he at least has the common sense to distance himself from remarks which were genuinely insulting.