Scottish Labour has moved to distance itself from a Glasgow councillor who warned of “rising racist attacks on white children and teachers” in the city’s schools.

A spokesperson said the comment was “not reflective of the view of the Scottish Labour Party.”

Details of the remark from Audrey Dempsey were included in an agenda for a meeting of the Labour group on Glasgow Council, which was subsequently leaked to The Herald.

In a section on potential questions for last week's full council meeting, the Springburn and Robroyston councillor had tabled one on “racist attacks on teachers.”

It read: “To ask the relevant Convenor if they [are] aware of the rising racist attacks on white children and teachers in our schools and how do they plan to tackle this?”

The Herald:

The question was never asked. 

A council source said there was no evidence of any increase in racism against white students or teachers in the city.

According to the most recent figures, there were 2,075 racist incidents recorded in primary and secondary schools across all councils in 2022-23, roughly the equivalent of 11 cases per school day.

Some 352 of those were in Glasgow.

The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights has long argued that the true figure is likely higher, as many incidents will go unrecorded.

Nuzhat Uthmani, a lecturer at the University of Stirling and a board member of the Scottish Government's Antiracism in Education Programme, said Cllr Dempsey's question was “unhelpful.”

“We are trying to eradicate racism in all its forms against all communities and that's why I think that the wording and her approach to it is really unhelpful.

“The other thing to say is that obviously racist incidents overwhelmingly are experienced by minority communities. And there is plenty of evidence out there to show that.”

Ms Uthmani said the government's own behaviour survey, published in November last year, showed that racism is “endemic across our schools and the vast majority of those victims are people of colour or from marginalised communities.”

An SNP spokesperson said it was “utterly abhorrent to single out children from a black and ethnic minority background with questioning such as this.”

They called on Labour to immediately distance themselves from this line of questioning "and assure the public that it is not the position of Glasgow Labour to single out non-white children as a problem in our schools.”

Cllr Dempsey said her question was about a particular situation. She said she found it “baffling that the SNP would turn this into a political attack when they have never once approached me to find the basis of the question and the situations that led it to be submitted.”

She added: “If someone hinted to myself that children were suffering abuse, I would do all I could to find out the details and resolve it for the children, not play political football with it. That in itself tells a story.”

The councillor said she was “very aware of incidents where racist abuse against white children and teachers is happening.”

She continued: “ The victims I am aware of feel the action taken at the time of the incident was not appropriate for the act that was carried out on them, and they seek answers from education [department at Glasgow council] as to what will change to make their complaints be taken as seriously as others.

“I think this is a valid question for them and they deserve to have it answered.

“Unfortunately the question was not selected for reasons unknown to myself, so it would have been nice for the SNP to show some care and compassion for the children in question and simply ask me what it was about.

“We should not be supporting one vulnerable group by making another group vulnerable. We have to treat everyone equally with the same rules and same consequences.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "Cllr Dempsey's question was not supported by the Glasgow Labour Group and is not reflective of the view of the Scottish Labour Party.”