Lancashire Tory suspended in ‘racist’ tweet row

Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott
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A senior Tory politician who commented on a “racist” social media post has been suspended from the party.

Alan Pearmain, the deputy chairman of the South Ribble Conservative Association and a Farington Parish Councillor, commented on Twitter about a picture comparing Shadow Secretary of State for Health Diane Abbott to an ape.

Coun Alan Pearmain

Coun Alan Pearmain

The original tweet, which shows an ape wearing lipstick, states: “Forget the London look, get the Diane Abbott look.”

Coun Pearmain wrote in reply: “Nice lips kid. But a shade too much rouge.”

The post was spotted by Kingsfold Labour Councillor Keith Martin, who reported it to the Labour Party, which was considering police action, but instead informed Ms Abbott’s office.

Tonight the Conservative Party confirmed Coun Pearmain had been suspended.

I don’t live in a PC world. Why should I worry about it?

A Conservative spokesman said: “His comments are completely unacceptable and he has been suspended from the party, pending an investigation.”

Diane Abbott’s office is now in the process of going back to the local Labour Party, asking it to press charges with the police.

Coun Martin said: “It’s not fitting for an elected member to promote such material. It is degrading and offensive.”

He believes the original post is racist, adding: “It reminds me of attitudes from the 70s and early 80s. Re-posting and distributing it further is as bad.”

South Ribble Conservative Association condemned the original post, but said it didn’t believe Coun Pearmain was promoting racist material.

But Coun Pearmain, who describes himself in his Twitter handle as “positioned slightly to the right of Attila the Hun”, was unrepentant.

Despite his position in the South Ribble Conservatives and the fact he was elected in 2012, he said this week: “I’m not a politician, I’m just a guy with more money than sense. I’m not elected.”

He said he has “slightly right wing views having lived in Saudi Arabia and experienced it for six years”.

He added: “I do lots of things that are slightly out of context with the rest of the North West.”

“I don’t live in a PC world. Why should I worry about it?”

A spokesman for Labour’s regional office, said: “I’ve informed Diane’s office and think it is for her to see if she wants to take it further. I don’t think it should become a party political issue, I think it’s better if the community holds him to account.”

Michael Green, deputy chairman political of South Ribble Conservative Association, said: “The original tweet appeared to be racist and offensive. Such comments and images would be unacceptable to the Conservative Party.

“Mr Pearmain, however, appears to have just commented on the original tweet in December and there doesn’t seem to be any intention to promote its content. I have raised the matter with the Chairman of the Association, Phil Smith.

“It appears that the Labour Party has taken two months to raise this issue and their motivation for doing so now could be open to question.”

It is not the first time Coun Pearmain, who is listed as living in Constable Avenue, Farington, and is a local football referee, has courted controversy.

In 2015 he admitted joining the Labour Party to sabotage its leadership election.

At the time he told the Post he was “very right wing and anything goes”.