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Devon knows why they can’t agree

exeterWe don’t often hear much about Exeter, but the west country city has come to our attention twice in as many weeks

First, the universities minister David Lammy – in his speech to Operation Black Vote’s Black History Month celebration – recalled a recent visit to Exeter University, a city that “doesn’t look like this room” he said, before going on to praise the uni’s leadership team.

Now actress Emma Thompson, whose Rwandan son goes to Exeter (both pictured above), criticised the lack of diversity, saying that “Nick Griffin would feel at home” in the city.

The attack prompted the government’s Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw to hit back, saying her comments were “both untrue and insulting.”

Lammy himself did not suggest that there was any racism in the area, merely that there were not many people of colour living there, which is true. The last census put the total African and Caribbean population at just 0.25%.

But Bradshaw is also right when he says “The BNP is virtually non-existent in Exeter and polled dismally here in the last local elections.” In fact in this year’s elections, the BNP took just 0.5% of the popular vote, coming last out of the seven parties that stood.

So here we have a virtually all-white municipality that has completely rejected the far right’s politics of hate.

But that doesn’t mean that Thompson is entirely wrong. She was talking about the bullying her son, Tindyebwa Agaba, received. By the same token, just because the city shuns the BNP that does not mean that racism does not exist.

So although all the people here may not necessarily agree with each other, in their own way they all have a point!

By Lester Holloway

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