The Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, has denounced as "disgusting", "utterly outrageous" and "racist" comments made by David Starkey on the BBC's Newsnight last night.
During the panel discussion, which focused on the recent riots across England, the popular historian David Starkey went on what his co-panellist Owen Jones has described as a "racially inflammatory tirade." The third participant of the discussion, novelist Dreda Say Mitchell, said Starkey's comments were "random and confused" and showed "complete ignorance about the social dynamics of urban life in Britain."
Starkey, in reference to Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech that saw him dismissed from the Heath's Shadow Cabinet in 1968, said "the Tiber didn't foam with blood but flames lambent wrapped around Tottenham and [...] Clapham." Blaming a "profound cultural change" for the riots, he said "the whites have become black."
In what Jones said was an equation of "white" with "respectable", Starkey claimed of the black Tottenham MP David Lammy that, "if you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you would think he was white."
Jones said that this was "utterly outrageous. What you're doing is you're equating black culture with criminality."
In another controversial passage, Starkey claimed that "a particular sort of violent, destructive nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion. And black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together. This language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England. And that's why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country."
The BBC reported that Miliband, speaking at Haverstock School in Chalk Farm - a multi-faith, racially mixed state school - said that "there should be condemnation from every politician, from every political party of those sorts of comments."