Chinese Labour MP accuses Piers Morgan of making racism 'permissible'

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Labour MP Sarah Owen has blasted Piers Morgan

A Chinese MP has accused Piers Morgan of making racism “permissible” in the wake of bigoted abuse aimed at the Chinese for Labour group.

Sarah Owen, the MP for Luton North who chairs Chinese for Labour, questioned why the Good Morning Britain presenter has not been reprimanded after he repeatedly mocked the Chinese accent during a segment of the programme on Tuesday.

Chinese for Labour, a branch for Chinese members of the party, was targeted with racist abuse on Wednesday after it became the number one Twitter trend having backed Lisa Nandy to be the party’s leader.

Though Ms Owen doesn’t consider Mr Morgan responsible for the abuse, she told Yahoo News UK of his behaviour: “It allows an environment where it’s permissible to racially mock Chinese and east Asians. It’s so disappointing.”

Among the racist tweets aimed at Chinese for Labour were tropes about takeaways and accusations of it being an arm of China’s government. Ms Nandy and her leadership rival Sir Keir Starmer were among those who called it out.

Ms Owen said today: “I thought we had got rid of these tropes that we saw in the ‘70s. The abuse ranged from everything to questioning whether I was Chinese, to jokes about squinty eyes and takeaways, to questioning why we have a socialist society for Chinese people.

Chinese for Labour chair Sarah Owen (Sarah Owen)

“From the accounts I looked at, the majority of it came from the far-right, with a couple left-leaning. I’m not surprised because racism against Chinese and east Asians seems to still be OK.

“We had, the day before, Piers Morgan thinking it’s OK to mock the Chinese language.

“It [the abuse of Chinese for Labour] probably wasn’t directly related to him. But he hasn’t been reprimanded. He hasn’t apologised. It allows an environment where it’s permissible to racially mock Chinese and east Asians. It’s so disappointing.”

By Wednesday, Good Morning Britain had received more then 300 Ofcom complaints after Mr Morgan mocked the Chinese language while discussing Peter Phillips - the Queen’s grandson - promoting milk in a Mandarin-language advert.

Mr Morgan described it as “yang yank yong ying ming milk” and “ching chang chong milk”.

He later insisted he was “mocking a member of the British royal family appearing in an advert for Chinese state milk, not Chinese people”.

But Ms Owen, who said she will be complaining to Good Morning Britain, added: “This ilk of commentator - Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins, Laurence Fox - use being controversial as a platform.

“And there hasn’t been the outrage you would expect had he mocked another ethnicity.”

Ms Owen, who is due to give birth in two weeks’ time, added Chinese people are “still not visible enough” in mainstream society.

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In last month’s general election, she was only the second Chinese MP to be elected into Parliament after Conservative Alan Mak in 2015.

She added: “We are going to be celebrating Chinese New Year at the weekend and all this is happening in the run-up to it. It’s heartbreaking we are being openly mocked on mainstream TV and on social media.”

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