James Chapman, Daily Mail (London), November 21, 2009
A former Tory Parliamentary candidate was suspended by the party last night after complaining that people bidding to become an MP did not have ‘normal’ English names.
Councillor Peter Hobbins is accused of sending racist emails to colleagues attacking the list of prospective Parliamentary candidates for the Orpington seat in Kent.
It is the latest selection row to hit the party following the revolt of activists in Norfolk against a Conservative candidate who had an affair.
Their defiance of David Cameron’s high command led to them being nicknamed the ‘turnip Taliban’.
Mr Hobbins, who stood unsuccessfully for the Tories at the 2001 election and was shortlisted for the London mayoral race, suggested he should change his name to ‘Petrado’ to succeed in the party.
One email said: ‘I have been contacted by a Mr Dilon Gumraj and a Zerha Zaidi and others who are all on the approved Conservative Parliamentary Candidates list.
‘Not one of them has a ‘normal’ English name.
‘They want to be the PPCs for Orpington and asked me for my personal advice on how they would be the best candidates for the Orpington Constituency. My view? For Hell’s sake.
‘Why are the Candidates Department so keen on these foreign names?!!!! Maybe I should change my name to something foreign–how does Petrado Indiano Hobbinso sound to you?!’
Mr Hobbins also said he was fed up with reading about ‘Africa’ on the CVs of would-be candidates.
Orpington Conservative Association chairman John Esler, one of the recipients, said: ‘Councillor Hobbins shouldn’t have sent these emails. They were entirely inappropriate.
‘I didn’t read all of it as I decided it was not worth the effort. But he definitely shouldn’t have sent them.’
Chuka Umanna, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Streatham, South London, said: ‘The language used by Councillor Hobbins–shortlisted by David Cameron to run London–is offensive in the extreme and shows his party has not come to terms with modern Britain.
‘We are told the Tory Taliban surge in Norfolk was an isolated incident–but clearly there is a growing insurgency in the party.’
A Tory spokesman said: ‘Councillor Hobbins has been immediately suspended from the Conservative Party and from the Conservative Group on Bromley council and he will play no part in the selection of the Parliamentary candidate. There is no room for racism in the Conservative Party.’
Orpington, a safe Tory seat, is selecting a candidate for next year’s election, when MP John Horam steps down.
The row comes after Mr Cameron thwarted the ‘turnip Taliban’ revolt against the candidate for South West Norfolk, Liz Truss.
Local party members were angered after she failed to tell them she had had an affair with Tory MP Mark Field.
Tory HQ says it has been ‘inundated’ with more than 4,000 applications from a ‘diverse’ range of people responding to Mr Cameron’s decision to reopen the candidates’ list in May.
The 150 new candidates on the approved list include businesswoman Merryn Myatt, who hosted a TV consumer show, and Colonel Bob Stewart, who received the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in Bosnia.