Labour’s David Lammy MP launched into a furious tirade against a government anti-knife campaign being rolled out in chicken shops, suggesting it plays into racist tropes about black people.
The campaign, spearheaded by the Home Office under its new secretary of state, Priti Patel MP, will see chicken boxes at “210 chicken shops in England and Wales, including Morley’s, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage” branded with the #KnifeFree hashtag on the outside and short “true stories” about young knife criminals and the negative impact of crime on their lives on the inside.
But David Lammy, a former government minister during the premierships of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who has become one of Parliament’s leading proponents of racial identity politics during Labour’s years in opposition, is not happy with the initiative.
“Is this some kind of joke?!” the Tottenham MP erupted on social media. “Why have you chosen chicken shops? What’s next, #KnifeFree watermelons?”
He later added that Boris Johnson’s government was, in his view, “using taxpayers’ money to sponsor an age-old trope… pushing the stereotype that black people love fried chicken” in comments to the Guardian.
“This ridiculous stunt is either explicitly racist or, at best, unfathomably stupid,” he seethed.
In fact, the Home Office tweet which triggered Mr Lammy made no mention of black people, with the Labour MP apparently having seemingly inferred racism from his own personal associations of them with chicken shops and knife crime.
Is this some kind of joke?! Why have you chosen chicken shops? What's next, #KnifeFree watermelons? https://t.co/34DwwxSmCN
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) August 14, 2019
Lammy was joined on the attack by Diane Abbott, who is Priti Patel’s opposite number in the Shadow Cabinet.
“Instead of investing in a public health approach to violent crime, the Home Office have opted for yet another crude, offensive and probably expensive campaign,” she tweeted.
“They would do better to invest in our communities not demonise them.”
Ms Patel has yet to back down in the face of the outrage, however, and even fired back, tweeting: “Shame to see [Diane Abbott] playing politics with knife crime. I will do everything in my power to stop it traumatising communities — recruiting 20k officers, empowering police to stop & search, communicating tragic consequences of carrying a knife. I will not apologise for that.”
“The government is doing everything it can to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives, including bolstering the police’s ranks with 20,000 new police officers on our streets,” added junior minister Kit Malthouse.
Just days ago, the left-wing Guardian was reporting that “chicken shop gangs” were using such establishments to groom people into crime from a young age with offers of free food.
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