Two Conservative Party councillors have been accused of sharing racist comments on social media in response to the wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the globe, following the murder of George Floyd in the US.
Linda Symes, a councillor in Portsmouth, has been suspended after questioning why there were demonstrations over the death of Floyd and not over the murder of Lee Rigby or death of seven-year-old Emily Jones.
“Total morons, don’t remember any demonstrations like this when Lee Rigby was murdered on our streets by BLACK people [emphasis in original],” she said in one post.
In another, she suggested Sadiq Khan will remain London mayor “because of his ethnicity”.
— Lauren 🌹 (@LED5991) June 2, 2020
Speaking to Portsmouth’s The News before her suspension, Symes insisted she wasn’t racist.
“In sharing posts on my private Facebook page, I was highlighting there have been brutal killings of children and adults in the UK, but people didn’t protest and riot about that. The death of George Floyd is a tragedy and those responsible should be held to account, but so should those that kill anyone of any creed, colour or religion,” she fumbled.
Robin Vickery has stepped down as a Suffolk county and Ipswich borough councillor after he shared a post on Facebook calling for black and Asian Britons to be deported, and also two further posts on Facebook comparing the response to Floyd’s death with that to Rigby’s. He was due to retire in May 2021, but he was suspended by the Conservatives after the posts were uncovered, and an urgent investigation launched.
“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,” Vickery said in a statement.
— #NoPasaran ✊ (@alargevat) June 6, 2020
Conversely, Aberdeen councillor Ryan Houghton has been allowed back into the party after being suspended for six months for claiming Muslims were trying to create “Eurabia” in the UK and the scale of the Holocaust was exaggerated.
It further emerged 8th June members of Essex University’s Conservative Society have been suspended from the student union after suggesting coronavirus spreading via Black Lives Matter protests was “natural selection”.
“Let them protest, the virus will decide. I think it would be irresponsible to wish Covid on them. But at this point I don’t need to, it’s natural selection,” one commenter said.
A spokesperson for the Conservatives said the party “does not tolerate racism and has acted to investigate and suspend members when appropriate”.