Conservative candidate Philip Dunne apologises after offending Sikh candidate
Dunne, sitting MP in Ludlow, accused Sahota of “talking through his turban”, a remark that was described as racist. The remark prompted demands instead of an apology, the Conservative party should drop him as a candidate.Updated: Nov 28, 2019 22:45 IST
Philip Dunne, Conservative candidate in Ludlow, Shropshire, on Thursday apologised after making a comment about Labour candidate Kuldip Singh Sahota’s turban before a packed audience during hustings on Wednesday before the December 12 general election.
Dunne, sitting MP in Ludlow, accused Sahota of “talking through his turban”, a remark that was described as racist. The remark prompted demands instead of an apology, the Conservative party should drop him as a candidate.
Sahota said: “I was shocked and deeply hurt that someone who was an MP for 14 years would make such a derogatory comment about the Sikh faith. These are the kind of offensive comments I remember receiving in the 1970s”.
“They have no place in modern Britain and they certainly have no place in our Parliament.
“I hope the Conservatives will investigate this matter immediately”, he added.
On Thursday, Dunne tendered the apology: “I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments last night. I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused.”
In London, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who became the first turban-wearing Sikh MP in 2017, has demanded Dunne’s expulsion from the party: “This disgusting, racist remark wasn’t just made by a Conservative Parliamentary candidate”.
“It was made by someone who was a Conservative MP for 14 years, who has served as a minister in several Conservative governments, and this year was even given an honour by the Conservative leadership”.
“This attack on the turban, which we consider a crown, is an attack on the entire Sikh community, who fought and died for Britain wearing those same turbans. The Conservatives must suspend him immediately and strip him of his honour. Anything less than that will be condoning blatant racism.”
Heather Kidd, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Ludlow, who was also at the hustings, added: “The audience was obviously shocked. It was the worst kind of unthinking Tory prejudice. The comment came 15 minutes after holier-than-thou assertions that the Conservative Party always acts on Islamophobia and prejudice, which does make you wonder”.