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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 20:04 GMT
Reaction to Patrick Mercer's comments
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has resigned from his frontbench post as homeland security spokesman following comments about racism in the Army. Here is a selection of reaction to his comments:

MP PATRICK MERCER

The offence I have obviously caused is deeply regretted.

I had the privilege to command soldiers from across the East Midlands of whom many came from racial minorities.

It was a matter of great pride to me that racial minorities prospered inside the unit, and, indeed at one stage all of my Company Sergeant Majors were black.

What I have said is clearly misjudged and I can only apologise if I have embarrassed in anyway those fine men whom I commanded.

I have no hesitation in resigning my front-bench appointment.

TORY LEADER DAVID CAMERON

The comments made by Patrick Mercer are completely unacceptable and I regret that they were made.

We should not tolerate racism in the Army or in any walk of life.

Patrick Mercer is no longer a Shadow Minister.

LABOUR ARMED FORCES MINISTER ADAM INGRAM

Racist abuse can have no place in any walk of life, and it is appalling and inappropriate for any politician, never mind a senior Tory MP like Patrick Mercer, to suggest that 'this is just the way it is in the Army'.

Our troops and our officers are 21st century people who recognise that there is no place for prejudice in the modern world... Patrick Mercer may have a military background but he no longer speaks for the Armed Forces.

It is an insult to the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces with great distinction, and it does not represent a true picture of today's Army which goes to great lengths to ensure that all those who serve, irrespective of their race or ethnic origin are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

LIB DEM CHIEF OF STAFF EDWARD DAVEY

These are staggering remarks from a frontbench spokesman. Comments like this undermine all those in the Army who have gone to great lengths to ensure that every soldier is treated fairly.

COMMONS LEADER JACK STRAW

The comments are breathtaking and dreadful and Mr Mercer's resignation is appropriate.

COMMISSION FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

We are relieved that the leader of the opposition has sacked Patrick Mercer.

This sends a clear signal that racist attitudes and comments are not acceptable. Grown up modern politics has no place for bigots.

It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure regressive comments such as these do not undermine the achievements that have been made in race equality over the last 30 years

RICHARD ALEXANDER, NEWARK COUNCILLOR

I know him quite well and I am sorry to learn that he has decided to step down.

We all say things in the heat of the moment that do not read too well in print but I understand where he's coming from.

He's an ex-Army man and is entitled to his robust views. I think that's all he was doing. There's no racist element to him. He knows his mind.

We are sorry to learn that someone of his integrity, honesty and ability has had to step down but I believe he will be back. He has a lot to offer.


SEE ALSO
Top Tory quits over Army race row
08 Mar 07 |  UK Politics



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