A tory councillor has hit back at claims his party is anti-Islamic and described the Labour Party as a “racist, anti-Semitic cesspit”.
East Renfrewshire councillor Jim Swift was appalled by comments made by Provost Jim Fletcher, a Labour councillor, at a heated meeting in January.
The Provost questioned the Tory’s decision to call-in plans to give full ownership of Woodfarm Education Centre to Woodfarm Educational Trust, a Muslim-ran group.
He said the Muslim community had concerns about a future Conservative-led council, adding: “Perhaps the Muslim community is right and I’m a bit naive and wrong.
“There is concern five councillors from one particular party called it in.”
But Mr Swift branded the comments as “groundless” and “unreasonable” when the meeting’s minutes went before the full council on Thursday.
Quoting the minutes, he said: “Provost Fletcher added that it could be arguable that the trust was right to be concerned referring to the call-in and the political composition of those supporting it. And suggesting that if another type of client group had been involved the same issues might not have arisen.”
Mr Swift then questioned whether the Provost was comfortable being a member of the Labour Party.
He said: “Quite directly you accused the Conservatives of being anti-Muslim because we queried the transfer of an asset owned by the taxpayer to an external community group that was beneath market value.
“I took great offence to that statement and I still take offence to that statement. It was utterly unreasonable, groundless and baseless.
“Do you know what I think it’s probably a fair diversion because the Provost represents a party where nine of his own MPs have resigned the whip recently because they can no longer stand to be in the racist, anti-semitic cesspit that is the Labour Party.”
He said someone had wrote to him as they had been so offended by the Provost’s remarks.
“My question would be to you Provost, are you still comfortable being a member of the Labour Party given the racist and anti-Semitic cesspit that it is?”
Mr Fletcher said: “I’m very happy to repeat the debate of that particular minute and I think the group involved who were subjected to the call-in are more than able to make their own judgement on it and I think they’ve done that, so I don’t propose to rerun that.
“Thank you for your question. I don’t think that’s a question on the minute so we’ll move on. Does anyone have any serious questions on the minutes?”
Tory councillor Gordon Wallace described the meeting as “a major step backwards for this council”.
“I would suggest that the 11th of January was not a day in which councillors and officers alike took much glory.”