Tory race gaffes: Anne Marie Morris is just the latest MP in the dock

Written by Dods staff on 10 July 2017 in Diary

At least five other Tory MPs have been accused of racism in recent years.

Theresa May has said she was "shocked" to hear that Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris had talked about "the real nigger in the woodpile" at a meeting about Brexit.

But Morris is by no means the only Conservative MP to face condemnation for using racist language in recent years.

Here are five other Tories who have been embroiled in racism rows during their time in the House of Commons.


1. Boris Johnson

Johnson had been an MP for one year when he when he described black people as "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles" in the Telegraph in 2002. Six years later – when he was running to be mayor of London – Johnson apologised but insisted the words had been taken out of context by his critics. More recently, was accused of dog-whistle racism for the way he criticised Barack Obama’s intervention in the EU debate - in 2016, Johnson penned an article which quoted claims that Obama’s "part-Kenyan" heritage had driven him towards anti-British sentiment.


2. Liam Fox

The international development secretary was forced to apologise for telling a racist and sexist joke at a Christmas party in 2000, when he was shadow health secretary and a rising Tory star. Fox had asked: "What do you call three dogs and a blackbird? The Spice Girls." He later issued a statement apologising for the joke, which he had uttered in the presence of journalists. "In repeating a widely circulated joke, I very much regret if anyone was offended," the statement read. "I naturally apologise if any offence was caused."


3. Ann Winterton

Winterton had the Tory whip removed by Michael Howard in 2004 after telling a shockingly offensive ‘joke’ about drowned cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay. The then MP for Congleton told a rugby club dinner: "One shark turned to the other to say he was fed up chasing tuna and the other said, 'Why don't we go to Morecambe Bay and get some Chinese?" The right wing MP had previously been sacked from the shadow cabinet after telling a joke about an Englishman throwing a Pakistani out of a train that ended with the line: "They are 10 a penny in my country."


4. John Townend

In 2001, Townend sparked a race row when responding to Robin Cook's "chicken tikka masala" speech in which the then foreign secretary hailed Britain's varied communities. "Presumably, he considers us a mongrel race," said Townend, who had first been elected as Conservative MP for Bridlington in 1979. The outburst was immediately condemned by then leader William Hague who stressed: "I believe in a multicultural Britain." Townend retired from the Commons soon afterwards.


5. Oliver Letwin

Letwin’s comments about the morals of black people sparked a race row in 2015 – 30 years after he first made them. Papers in the National Archives released two years ago showed that Letwin had blamed "bad moral attitudes" for the rioting in black inner-city areas when he was an aide to Margaret Thatcher. The Cabinet Office minister and Tory policy architect had also dismissed proposals to foster a new class of black entrepreneurs, saying they would simply set up in the "disco and drug trade".




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