Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has made his first statement since Patrick Mercer, one of his frontbench team, had to resign for ill-considered remarks on racism in the army.  Mr Davis told ITV1’s Sunday Edition:

"Although Patrick’s not a racist, what he said could have been judged as condoning racism.  David [Cameron] is quite properly distancing us from an inappropriate non-earned reputation in the past and he had to act as he did.  If you make mistakes in politics sometimes the consequences can be very fierce, and he has paid the price, he has lost his front bench job.  I don’t think anybody should ever see Patrick Mercer as a racist. If there is an opposite of racist, that’s Patrick."

"Eventually, yes," was Mr Davis’ reply to a question on whether Mr Mercer should return to the frontbench.

Liam Fox, Shadow Defence Secretary, speaking to Sky News agreed that Mr Mercer was not racist but that he was wrong not to have been seen to condemn racism within the military.  "I think its unacceptable to say that simply because racism occurs at the present time that you regard it as part of the wallpaper and not condemn it," he said.

Earlier today Oliver Letwin, reflecting on Mr Mercer’s resignation, said that the party needed to change further.

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