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Labour Party official apologises for ‘anti-Catholic’ comment

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A senior official in the Labour Party has apologised after making an apparently anti-Catholic comment at the party’s conference in Liverpool.

Andy Kerr, chairman of the National Executive Committee for Scottish Labour, said that he “might not” call a female delegate to speak after seeing her making the sign of the cross.

He was speaking on the main stage at the party’s conference when he invited questions from the audience. When the delegate put up her hand, Kerr said: “Did you cross yourself there? In that case, I might not.”

He later apologised “unreservedly” for the comment, which he said was “ill-judged”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard was asked by BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’ show if the remark was “bigoted”. He responded: “That might be one way of describing it.”

“It’s completely unacceptable and Andy Kerr has unreservedly apologised for the remark that he made,” Leonard added.

“There should be no space for it inside the Labour Party and I condemn it.”

The comment has also provoked anger among some Labour MPs. The party has struggled to win back Catholic voters in Scotland, who have deserted it for the Scottish National Party.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A casual gratuitous anti-Catholic insult from the chair of Labour Party conference,” one unnamed MP told the Scottish Sun.

Another added: “To have any chance of winning again in Scotland we need to persuade tens of thousands of Catholic voters we’ve lost to the SNP to come back to Labour.

“The sight of the NEC chair mocking someone for blessing themselves live on television at our party conference doesn’t exactly aid that task.”