Increasing calls for DUP MP Gregory Campbell to be held accountable after ‘BBC at its BLM worst’ comment

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The Democratic Unionist Party MP, Gregory Campbell, is coming under increasing scrutiny after his comments describing an episode of BBC Songs of Praise and an all black lineup as “Black Lives Matters at its worst”.

Campbell, who is the MP for East Londonderry, too to his Facebook, posting “There were five singers, all of them black. There were three judges all of them black and one presenter who was incidentally, yes black."

“The singers were all very good but can you imagine an all white line up with an all white jury and presented by a white person? No I can’t either.”

Speaking to BBC Ulster, the singer, vocal coach and Songs of Praise judge David Grant MBE called for the DUP’s leader Arlene Foster to act, and he was not alone. 

It is disappointing. I don’t believe this is a world view and a principle and a prejudice that is shared by the majority of people in Northern Ireland…. The idea is that in these times we do a gospel music singing competition and people feel joy...all Gregory Campbell saw was division and separation."

“It tells me more about his world view than it does about anything that was on screen.”

David Grant MBE

He has been joined in his call by more than 1,000 plus signatories who (as with Grant) are calling for Campbell to be ‘held accountable’ for his words. The African and Caribbean Support Organisation of Northern Ireland has also registered similar disapproval regarding Campbell’s comments. In a letter released Monday, they stated their desire to meet with the Northern Ireland Executive and the DUP to discuss the impact of Campbell’s statement, and to find solutions moving forward.

The Northern Ireland First Minister gave her reaction to the situation stating that it was “not a sentiment that I identify with”, before adding that, “We [the DUP] are totally, absolutely committed to racial equality,” she said in the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

"Why would I apologise for something that’s correct and accurate?"

Campbell has refuted any suggestion that his comments were racist.

“If I have caused offence by stating the obvious, by stating something that is irrefutable - that the BBC are committed to reflecting the diversity of the UK and they didn’t on that occasion, and no-one can say that they did - why would I apologise for something that’s correct and accurate?” he said. 

“No I don’t apologise. 

"I’m an anti-racist. Do I apologise for that? No. I stand with the black footballer [Nottingham Forest’s black striker Lyle Taylor] who refused to take the knee. Do I apologise for that? No I don’t. 

“I am a committed anti-racist, and I am happy to explain that to the [North West Migrants] forum or anyone else, and I have always been.”

The MP has also added that he hoped people would think about the “proper context” of the comment and “why” he said it.

He said he had made a “repeated assertion that we have to move forward against racism in all its forms”.

“But we don’t have to adopt the single identity that BLM does and the BBC seem to adhere to in that edition,” Gregory Campbell added.

Mayowa Ayodele

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