RICHARD Leonard’s speech to Labour conference has been overshadowed by his failure to deal with a racist councillor.

During a fringe event on Saturday, the party’s leader in Scotland claimed the media was “at war” with him, because they kept asking why he has yet to be discipline a councillor who racially abused Humza Yousaf.

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He complained that the media were dodging the “important questions” on party policy in favour of inquiries about Jim Dempster, who last year said that he did not know whether Yousaf had ever visited his constituency because “no one would have seen him under his burka”.

He was suspended after admitting to making the remarks at a transport conference 18 months ago but he has yet to be formally disciplined.

Leonard told the Morning Star event that broadcasters had quizzed him on the investigation into Dempsie during an event with John McDonnell in Glasgow earlier this month.

“John was going to speak about economic transformation and I was going to speak about democratic transformation and renewal,” Leonard said. “And when we were interviewed by the broadcast media, they didn’t want to speak about any of that. They wanted to speak about what was our position on a second independence referendum.

“They wanted to know about what our position was on Brexit because Tom Watson had made a speech that week and they’d like to know our position on a suspended councillor in the south of Scotland. They didn’t want to ask important questions about how we were going to transform our economy and how this Labour Party is going to renew our democracy as well.”

Yousaf tweeted: “Hey @LabourRichard here’s an idea, how about you *actually* discipline the Islamaphobic Cllr 18 months after he admitted making his slur, and you never know, media might stop asking you about it.”

He added: “Leonard just adding insult to injury with his latest blunder, not fit to be leader.”

In his speech, Leonard tried to warn those at the top of the UK party against a General Election deal with Nicola Sturgeon, saying there would be “no shortcut to a Jeremy Corbyn government through the SNP”.

He also said a Labour government in Holyrood would seek to give councils and housing associations the “right to acquire land at an existing use value”.