Tories want Labour election candidate who described Witham MP Priti Patel as ‘sexy Bond villain’ to be axed
A prospective Labour MP in Essex who has been “trolling” MP Priti Patel with “misogynistic” and “racist” tweets should not be allowed to stand, the Conservatives have said.
John Clarke, who is standing in Witham for the Labour Party, has apologised for any offence caused to Ms Patel after she wrote to party leader Ed Miliband to raise social media posts describing her as a “sexy Bond villain” and likening her to the “village idiot”.
She has also accused him of “lies” after he issued a leaflet claiming she employed her husband on more than £50,000 a year and suggesting she was the most expensive MP in Britain.
Ms Patel told Mr Miliband that Mr Clarke had been making “derogatory, sleazy and demeaning comments, which had misogynistic and racist undertones to them”.
Last week Mr Clarke emailed her to say: “I would like to apologise to you for any offence caused and assure you that any inaccuracies will not be repeated.”
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And a Labour Party spokesperson said: “The candidate has apologised for any offence caused and we are satisfied that any inaccuracies will not be repeated.”
But Ms Patel has said: “Until Ed Miliband turns around and says this is not acceptable, we are taking action against this individual, it is not enough”.
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Tory vice chairman Rebecca Harris has called for him to be removed from his role, adding: “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.”
Mr Clarke’s posts on the social media website Twitter include: “@pritipatelmp was elected to represent the constituents of Witham, NOT the Indian community (note I didn’t say Asian…why?)”; “Witham calling: the village is missing its idiot! Come home Priti Patel…”; and “@pritipatelmp Did the character Deepa on the Channel 4 programme UKIP first 100 days remind u of anyone? Like…Selling out principles, etc”.
Ms Patel also hit back at what she claimed were “lies” over her links to tobacco firms, and the amount she pays her husband, who works for her.
“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 and that was it. 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.
“I am going to get back in touch with Ed Miliband and say: ‘Are you going to stand by this guy? Are you sanctioning this kind of behaviour basically? The apology does not go 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.”
Mr Clarke was unable to respond to the EADT prior to going to press.