Indian-origin UK MP demands sacking of rival for racist tweets

  • PTI, London
  • Updated: Mar 25, 2015 17:38 IST

Britain's most high-profile Indian-origin woman cabinet minister has demanded the sacking of her Labour election rival for posting "misogynistic" and "racist" tweets directed at her in which she was dubbed as a "village idiot" and "sexy bond villain".

42-year-old Priti Patel, who is the exchequer secretary in the UK Treasury as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron's Indian Diaspora champion, was elected from Witham constituency in Essex for the Conservative party in 2010.

Her Labour party rival, John Clarke, was forced to email her an apology after she accused him of "lies" in a leaflet claiming she employed her husband –- Alex Sawyer -– on more than 50,000 pounds a year.

"Until (Labour party leader) Ed Miliband turns around and says 'this is not acceptable, we are taking action against this individual', it is simply not enough," Patel said, dismissing the apology.

Conservative Party vice-chairman Rebecca Harris has also demanded that Clarke is sacked and replaced.

She said: "This sort of behaviour does nothing to improve the image of politics in the eyes of the public, and I believe may be a deliberate attempt to appeal to the most unpleasant racial prejudice in our society."

Clarke, a former teacher and university lecturer who is Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate from Witham for the May 7 election, had emailed Patel to say: "I would like to apologise to you for any offence caused and assure you that any inaccuracies will not be repeated."

Clarke's posts on Twitter included claims that a "village is missing its idiot! Come home Priti Patel."

Last month, he sent Patel a link to another tweet asking: "There's a woman on the Conservative front bench who looks like she'd be the Sexy Bond Villain. Who is she!?"

He then added: "If you're the 'sexy Bond villain' does that make me Bond, James Bond? (Cue the music!)."

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "The candidate has apologised for any offence caused and we are satisfied that any inaccuracies will not be repeated.

However, London-born Patel said, "He has been trolling me for ages and ages. I wrote to Ed Miliband and asked him 'what are you going to do about this nasty piece of work? 'Is this party policy? 'Do you sanction this sort of behaviour?'

"I have had no response so I wrote him another letter asking him 'what are you going to do?' On Friday, I got a one-line email from him (Mr Clarke) saying 'Ms Patel I apologise' and that was it," Patel said.

"It is not just what he has put on Twitter, it has been his conduct for what has been a considerable period of time. I could take further action if I want to," she said.

"The apology does not go nearly far enough. As if he can brush that under the carpet after publishing a leaflet with loads of lies about me. In my opinion he is totally unsuitable for public office," she added.

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