Brit Nat Tory MP David Davies was criticised today for “totally ignorant” remarks attacking the traveller communities.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) gave £48,000 to Hampshire Council for a project on the traditions of travelling communities. In a letter to the HLF, Brit Nat David 'Top Cat' Davies said:
"Following the £48,000 you gave for the production of a video aimed at giving schoolchildren a greater understanding of the culture and traditions of 'gypsy travellers,' I am very keen to commission an equally 'useful' and 'informative' piece of film that will serve to educate said 'gypsy travellers' on some of the ancient traditions and communal practices of another group of people, who we might call 'settled folk'."
"I use the term to describe that large group of people in Britain who opt to live their lives in houses or flats. I should like my film to focus on such issues as the importance which the 'settled community' place on property rights, their rigid adherence to an ancient code which they refer to as 'planning regulations', and the time honoured custom of clearing up one’s rubbish. Should time allow we could also include a section about the cardboard circle which settled folk purchase annually from post offices and use to adorn their vehicles – known as a tax disc.”
Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru AM said:
"These statements show not only prejudice but total ignorance. There is absolutely no evidence that members of the gypsy travelling community are more likely to be involved in crime or anti-social activity than any other community. Comments like the ones made by David Davies feed prejudice and bias and are completely unhelpful in regards to dealing with the real issues."
A spokesman for the Gypsy Council described Mr Davies' comments as "distasteful", while the council's secretary, Ann Bagehot, said she considered them to be "just schoolboy thoughtlessness". She added that Mr Davies was "making a mockery of attempts to build bridges between gypsies and non-gypsies".
Chris Myant, director for the Commission for Racial Equality Wales, told BBC Wales:
"He’s trying to play on people’s prejudices. He’s playing games which isn’t really the way serious politicians should engage in public debate.