A Liberal Democrat councillor has been accused of racism after publishing election leaflets which point out that his Labour challenger is SCOTTISH.
Councillor Steve Comer describes his rival Mhairi Threlfall as “Labour’s candidate from Scotland” while referring to himself as the “local campaigner”.
Ms Threlfall, who grew up in the Edinburgh area, is challenging Mr Comer for his Eastville seat on Bristol City Council.
Darren Lewis, chairman of the Bristol Labour Party, branded the leaflets – which have been delivered to over 5,000 homes – and the Lib Dems as racist.
He said: “My view is that the leaflets are racist and any party pushing it is racist. That is clear because race includes national origin.
“Why is it in there if they do not think that it is negative? They think she should be judged on it. They want her to be judged negatively on it otherwise why is it in there?
“It is not like they are just saying she is from outside the city – they are very clear to describe her as Scottish, as being from Scotland.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that Steve Comer and the Lib Dems have chosen to emphasise a candidate’s nationality in their election leaflets.
“Ability and integrity not nationality and ethnicity are the determining factors for a great local councillor.”
Mr Comer, 57, said there was “certainly nothing racist” about the leaflets which it is understood were pushed through more than 5,500 letterboxes.
He said: “I think it’s a storm in a teacup really.
“What I’m doing is trying to contrast our different records in the ward.
“I don’t see there being anything inflammatory in pointing out that someone who has lived most of their life in Scotland has lived most of their life in Scotland. To call it racist is ridiculous.”
Mr Comer has been a councillor in Eastville for eight years and is hoping to defend his seat for the second time in Thursday’s local elections.
He added: “I don’t think it’s essential to be from the ward or live there, but you need to have a stake in the area you represent and a record on local issues.”
Bristol’s Lib Dem leader, Tim Kent, defended his colleague and called on Labour to withdraw their accusations of racism.
He said: “It makes no negative comments at all about her origins.
“What it does do is point out she lives in St Paul’s and doesn’t have the same kind of connection to Eastville as Steve does.”
Ms Threlfall, who was a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Musselburgh and Edinburgh East, before studying in Bristol, declined to comment on whether she though the leaflets were racist.
She said: “How Steve Comer chooses to conduct himself is a matter for his own conscience.”