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Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK

UK Politics

Liverpool anger at Straw jibe

Jack Straw said that Scousers were "always up to something"

Home Secretary Jack Straw has apologised to the people of Liverpool after provoking anger with an off-the-cuff comment about Scousers.

At a public meeting he joked that Scousers were ''always up to something''.

But the comments were met with a furious reaction in the city.

[ image: Liverpool is working to improve its image]
Liverpool is working to improve its image
City Council leader Mike Storey led the condemnation of the home secretary's remarks.

"I would have thought the home secretary should be very careful how he uses language.

"Liverpool people can take a joke like everyone else, but this idea, this view of Liverpool people, like with the television series Mersey Blues, that crime is a career option on Merseyside ... the facts prove that wrong.

"It's a constant drip, drip of stereotypical views. Mr Straw has just reinforced prejudiced, stereotypical views of Liverpool people."

Mr Straw was addressing about 35 councillors and residents at a crime prevention meeting in Milton Keynes when he said: ''You know what Scousers are like, they are always up to something.''

He then added: ''Please do not repeat that to anyone from Liverpool.''

Mr Straw's comments went unreported when he made them on Friday, but after word of them reached the city the outcry began. The Liverpool Echo devoted its front page to the news on Tuesday.

In an attempt to make his peace with Liverpudlians he went on a local radio station to say: "As an Essex man and a Blackburn supporter I often find myself the butt of jokes.

"My comments were meant to be lighthearted. I didn't intend to cause offence, but if anybody was offended by what I said then I offer my apologies."

He added: ''I always enjoy my regular trips to the city to meet local people and see old friends."

Liverpudlian comedian Stan Boardman said: ''Once again it's someone in power having a go at Liverpool.

''It's something you'd expect from a Tory not a Labour minister. In a league table of thieves Liverpool wouldn't even qualify for Europe.''

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