A Scottish Labour MP has had to apologise after admitting using "deeply offensive" language during a Burns Supper speech on Saturday night.

Hugh Gaffney, who represents Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, cracked a joke about the bard not being “bent” and also used the derogatory word "chinky" when describing a Chinese meal.

The MP has now agreed to go on equality and diversity training.

Gaffney, 54, made the remarks as he gave the Immortal Memory at a Scottish Labour student event in Edinburgh.

In an attempt at humour, the former postal worker referred to Burns loving women. His speech continued:

“He started of being a farmer/But he really was such a charmer/Going for ales he frequent/Telling the lads and lassies he was not bent.”

The MP posted a picture of himself on Twitter making the speech. "Giving the immortal memory at @ScotsLabStudent tonight in edinburgh."


Labour is fiercely proud of its record on LGBT rights and enacted landmark equalities legislation in government.

The party's general election manifesto from last year, which Gaffney was elected to implement, stated: "Labour has a proud record of championing the fight for LGBT equality. We abolished Section 28, equalised the age of consent, created civil partnerships, and it was only through Labour votes that equal marriage became law. However, there is still a long way to go on issues such as education, equal access to public services, levels of LGBT hate crime, and mental and physical wellbeing."

On February 1st, Gaffney tweeted on LGBT rights and miners: "Today marks the start of #LGBThistorymonth. 30 years ago the London pride march was led by Welsh miners after @LGSMpride supported them during the strike. The miners showed solidarity for the LGBT struggle. That year the @UKLabour put Gay & Lesbein [sic] rights in to the manifesto."

It is understood party bosses hauled Gaffney in for talks this week and he made an apology.

He was elected last year as one of seven Labour MPs north of the border. He is also a councillor in North Lanarkshire.

Gaffney said: “Last week I attended a Labour Students Burns Supper In Edinburgh. At that event I used certain language relating to the Chinese and LGBT communities that was wrong and completely inappropriate. I want to offer my unreserved apologies for what I said; my remarks were deeply offensive and unacceptable. I will be taking part in equality and diversity training at the earliest opportunity.

"I will do everything possible to make amends with both the Chinese community and the LGBT community.”

An SNP spokesperson: “Toasts at Burns Suppers are, of course, meant to be entertaining. But it’s clearly beyond the wit of Hugh Gaffney to toe the line between what’s humorous and what’s downright offensive. He’s an elected representative in 2018, not a pub bore in a working men’s club of years gone by.

“While he’s hardly known as one of the more enlightened or progressive voices of the Labour movement, this language clearly has no place in modern politics – especially at a youth event.”

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “This incident simply highlights the hypocrisy of Scottish Labour. They are the first to attack anyone else using inappropriate language, and yet they are curiously quiet when it’s one of their own.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Hugh Gaffney MP has been reprimanded for using inappropriate and offensive language. He has apologised unreservedly and referred himself for equality and diversity training. The Labour Party is clear that this language is unacceptable.”