Douglas Ross said he would enforce tighter legislation against the community
A Tory MP has been roundly criticised by campaigners and for comments made about Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller community.
In a YouTube video, Moray MP Douglas Ross is asked what he would do if he were prime minister for a day to which he replies "tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers."
Lynne Tammi of campaign group Article 12 in Scotland, told TFN Ross’s comments serve only to reinforce negative social representations of the Gypsy/Traveller community in Scotland.
She said: “Such narrative serves only to create further divisions in society.
“Rather than scapegoating Scotland’s oldest ethnic minority community, I would urge Mr Ross to use his position, as an elected representative, to help shape policy that reflects and includes Gypsy/Traveller culture and tradition."
It follows condemnation of the Tories by the Greens earlier this week after two Conservative councillors suspended for online abuse and racist comments were readmitted to the party.
Ross defended his comments, which were made during a Meet The MPs interview on the Core Politics YouTube page, saying travellers “flout local planning procedures”.
Naomi McAuliffe, Scottish programme director of rights group Amnesty International also voiced her disapproval at Ross’ stance.
“Douglas Ross said his aim as an MP was to ensure as good a deal as possible for the people of Moray – we really should not have to remind him that Scottish Gypsy/Travellers living in his constituency also deserve representation and respect.”
John Finnie MSP, justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, joined the condemnation.
“Douglas Ross was given an open goal, be PM and sort anything you want,” he said.
“He didn’t choose improving health, education or housing, he didn’t seek to eradicate poverty, work for a better planet or peace. Rather he chose to attack an already beleaguered minority, our Gypsy/ Travellers.
“Much like Donald Trump seemed emboldened the more outrageous he became, so Scotland’s Conservatives, whose ranks boast racists and sectarian bigots, keep up the nastiness.”
Some 4,200 people identified themselves as Gypsy/Traveller in Scotland according to official figures but the Scottish Government estimate the community actually comprises 15,000 to 20,000 people.