EXCLUSIVE: Conservative Party to investigate “disgraceful” Durham candidate comments

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Two candidates for Durham County Council local elections have been referred to the central Conservative Campaign Headquarters after several comments made on social media.

Durham North West Labour Party have labelled the comments, seen by Palatinate, “a disgrace” and “completely beyond the pale”, calling for the candidates to resign.

On 20th December 2020, Laura Rides, candidate for Consett North Ward, tweeted: “I cannot remember the Muslim extremist who said but apparently they are just going to OUT BREED US”.

In another tweet on 6th January 2020, Ms Rides said: “Personally I will admit to being Islamophobic. It is a fear of something. This does not mean I HATE Islam. It means to a degree I am fearful of Islam”.

The local Labour Party said they were “left wondering how Muslim voters in North West Durham are supposed to feel when they read such prejudiced views from the Tory candidates”.

A representative told Palatinate yesterday: “It’s especially ironic that on the day the government’s Race Commission controversially concluded that the UK wasn’t institutionally racist, that these disgraceful comments have come to light from Tory party local election candidates.”

In a post from 9th February 2020, Terry Batson, Conservative candidate for Tow Law Ward, said: “It is good to see the Chinese Ambassador on [the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show], dressed in a modern British gentleman’s suit. Well done to the Chinese Ambassador. Wouldn’t it be good for British moral[e], if other ethnic groups followed the Chinese Ambassador’s choice of attire, when appropriate?”

“It is of particular concern to us that the Conservative MP for North West Durham, Richard Holden, has endorsed these candidates too.” 

North West Durham constituency Labour Party

Mr Batson, a former Labour and Brexit Party voter, claimed in a Facebook post on 29th July 2020, that as a “White Englishman” he could not use the ‘thumbs up’ symbol on Facebook because it had “changed to black”, accusing Facebook of “PROMOTING RACISM”.

Both candidates are standing in the Durham County Council elections, due to take place on Thursday May 6th, and have been endorsed by local Conservative MP Richard Holden.

A separate post saw Batson condemn Labour MP Yvette Cooper, saying he could not imagine a country run by Jeremy Corbyn “and his wonderful ladies”.

In another post, Batson described Andrew Marr as “a tepid little pussy”, and MP Angela Rayner and former MP Jo Swinson as “vipers”. On 10th February 2021, Batson referred to an ethnic minority Labour activist interviewed by the BBC as “coloured”.

In response to the comments, the North West Durham constituency Labour Party said: “It is of particular concern to us that the Conservative MP for North West Durham, Richard Holden, has endorsed these candidates too. 

“Richard Holden really should know better than to endorse candidates without checking on their views, just because they wear the same colour rosette as him.”

The North West Durham Conservative Association told Palatinate: “In line with the normal complaints procedure, both individuals have been referred to CCHQ, and it would be inappropriate to comment further until CCHQ have fully investigated the complaint.”

Both candidates have been contacted for comment.

Image: North West Durham Conservatives

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