THE community in Upper Nithsdale has rallied behind local councillor Jim Dempster after two new racism allegations were made against him.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has renewed his call for Cllr Dempster to resign. The Labour councillor has been suspended by the party and has apologised after he made an Islamophobic remark about SNP MSP Yousaf.

However, in Cllr Dempster’s Mid and Upper Nithsdale ward, it seems the majority of his constituents support the councillor.

David Haddow felt that the whole scenario was blown out of proportion. He said: “There seems to be some dubiety about people digging up past evidence that doesn’t exist. The comments were not made directly to Mr Yousaf so therefore they were conveyed by a third party.

“I find it rather underhand in some respects. Therefore, I think I’d probably support the local councillor in all honesty. I think he does a reasonably good job. I think it’s boiling down to petty politics and calling people everything disguised as racism which is not necessarily the case.

“Racism is a very good excuse, a very good label to label people with and tarnish their reputation by saying someone is a racist. It is a word that is used very loosely and a lot of times incorrectly.”

However, there were some who felt Cllr Dempster should think about his position as an elected representative. James Landui said: “I think he shouldn’t be saying things like that. You can’t say things like that, especially as a politician.

“You’ve got to be clever about what you’re saying. I don’t think there’s a place for that sort of language. He should apologise. It depends on what the other fella thinks if he should resign. If he’s got a track record for racism then he probably should resign.

“It’s not really for me to say but, in my opinion, he should think about resigning anyway especially if those are the sort of attitudes he holds.”

Pat Brown has known Cllr Dempster for a long time and he felt the councillor would still be able to do his job. Mr Brown said: “I’ve known him for 20 years and he’s alright as far as I’m concerned. What’s happened with the transport minister shouldn’t affect his day-to-day job.”

A woman, who did not wish to be named, added: “I can’t believe what’s even said about it. He’s not a person like that.”