An ‘urgent’ investigation has been launched by local Tories into the social media activities of one of their candidates in next week’s borough council elections.
Online comments by John Sydes, who is standing in Castle Ward were branded ‘racist’ by the local Labour party who say: “The ‘investigation’ must act fast or be meaningless. Whatever happens, his name will still be on the ballot paper on May 6th.”
Labour sights a Twitter post from March 9th in which Mr Sydes wrote: “Every Tom, Dick, Harry and Meghan is jumping on the ‘race card’ these days.”
He followed up with: “Black people should by default win all awards regardless of talent. Also, all black people should be promoted regardless of talent. Black people are the future, white people should cower in the magnificence of black peoples superior skin colour and magnificence.”
“The comments have since been roundly condemned by many on Facebook,” a spokesman for the local Labour party told Hastings In Focus.
A statement issued by Labour this afternoon says: “Sydes’ remarks… are designed to wound.
“It doesn’t say much for the party who picked him to represent them in Castle ward. The Conservatives are obviously not fussy and Sydes certainly isn’t.”
Labour say it has drawn Mr Sydes behaviour to the attention of the Conservatives and also Electoral Services at Hastings Borough Council.
“We challenge the local Conservative party to disown Sydes and his racist views.”
“Racism is corrosive: it results in discrimination, poor health and fewer opportunities for ethnic minority people in our society. Something we saw all too plainly in every stage of the pandemic.
“We believe a man like Sydes should not represent our town – and that voters in Castle ward will agree. We challenge the local Conservative party to disown Sydes and his racist views.”
Martin Clarke Chairman of the local Conservative party said this afternoon: “We have been made aware of offensive comments on social media by John Sydes. Offensive language is unacceptable, and these comments do not reflect our values as an association or as a party. Therefore we have instigated an urgent investigation into this matter.
“I have spoken to John and made him aware that these comments are unacceptable. He clarified that these comments do not reflect his true beliefs and that he has apologised to the Association and to the public for any offense caused.
“While it is easy for people to make political capital from screen shots taken out of context John agrees that any of these which could cause offence are not acceptable. The Hastings and Rye Conservative Association has always prided itself on being a welcome environment for people of all backgrounds and beliefs. We will continue to support the diversity that makes Hastings strong.”