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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Tory councillors accused of racist social media posts

It can be very frustrating sitting at home in lockdown, as an observer of events rather than an initiator, but that is no excuse for taking to social media and letting off stream in an unacceptable and racist manner.

The Guardian reports that two Conservative councillors have been accused of sharing racist comments on social media following the wave of Black Lives Matter protests sparked around the world by the death of George Floyd in the US.

They add that another of the party’s local representatives has described the former slave trader Edward Colston, whose statue was pulled down and dumped in Bristol harbour on Sunday, as a “hero” and condemned the action as “thug violence”. My view on that action is here and here.

According to the Guardian, Linda Symes, a Portsmouth councillor, has been suspended from the party after appearing to question why there were demonstrations over the death of Floyd and yet not over the murder of Lee Rigby or the death of seven-year-old Emily Jones.

She shared a post which read: “Total morons, don’t remember any demonstrations like this when Lee Rigby was murdered on our streets by BLACK people.”

In another post on Facebook, Symes shared a comment about the mayor of London which said: “Because of his ethnicity Khan (Sadiq) will remain Mayor.”

They also report that Robin Vickery has stepped down as a Suffolk county and Ipswich borough councillor after he was found to have shared a post on social media calling for black and Asian people to be deported:

He also shared two further posts on Facebook comparing the response to Floyd’s death with that to Rigby’s.

Vickery, who has also resigned from the Conservative party, was due to retire in May next year but quit after hundreds of people complained to the local authority over the posts.

The local Conservative groups on both councils suspended Vickery after the posts were uncovered, saying they had launched an urgent investigation.

Vickery said: “I have resigned from the councils and the party. I had been planning to stand down at the next elections, but I’ve had enough.

“I’m going to enjoy my retirement. I don’t need this hassle. I have been subjected to some horrible comments – far worse than anything I have said.”

Bristol Conservative councillor Richard Eddy has accused protesters who toppled Colston’s statue of engaging in “frenzied thug violence”. Describing the former slaver as a “hero”, Eddy said he was “horrified and appalled” after the statue was dumped in the harbour.

Eddy, who was forced to step down as deputy leader of Bristol City Council in 2001 after he used a golliwog doll as a mascot, said he had received more outraged responses to the removal of the statue than any other issue.

Another Tory councillor has been allowed back into the party after being suspended for six months for claiming that Muslims were trying to create “Eurabia” in the UK and saying the Holocaust was exaggerated.

It emerged on Tuesday that the Aberdeen councillor, Ryan Houghton, has been readmitted to the Scottish Conservatives after a six-month ban. In an online posting in 2013, he suggested that some parts of the Holocaust had been “fabricated and exaggerated”, wrote that Muslims were having big families with the aim of creating “Eurabia”, and questioned whether homosexuality was “good for the human race”.

It emerged on Monday that members of Essex University’s Conservative Society have been suspended from the student’s union after they suggested coronavirus spreading via Black Lives Matter protests was “natural selection”.

These unacceptable views have no place in the twenty first century, or indeed any time prior.
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