After having seen the incident of Ms Gayle being racially abused onboard a Ryanair flight, I felt anger and disappointment. This disgusting racism is shocking and has no place in society.
I am deeply disappointed by the way Ryanair handled this incident. By not removing the person responsible from the flight but asking the victim if she would like to move to another seat, I am concerned that the company has sent a terrible message that this type of behaviour is acceptable on its flights and that responsibility rests with the victim. Furthermore, the delay in responding to the incident sends a message that Ryanair does not take this issue seriously enough.
It is vital that Ryanair ensures that sufficient procedures are in place to ensure all people are welcomed and treated with respect on their flights in the future.
More broadly, I am deeply concerned over the recent rise in hate crime in England and Wales. According to Home Office data, the total number of hate incidents reached a record 94,098 from April 2017 to March 2018 – a rise of 17% from the previous year. Just over three-quarters of those – a total of 71,251 – were classified as “race hate”.
We must stand up to hatred and discrimination wherever it is found. At the last General Election, I stood on a manifesto which committed to build a society and world free from all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The Opposition’s Race and Faith Manifesto also pledged to take robust action against violence and hate crime. It committed to develop a cross-department strategy to deliver strong and cohesive communities and outlined plans to recruit 10,000 more police officers to work on community beats.