AN ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ tweet which has drawn accusations of racism has seen a Rugby borough councillor kicked out of the ruling Conservative group.
Coun Jim Buckley, who represents HIllmorton ward, was permanently expelled from the party after he sent a tweet comparing Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Kahn’s HQ to a ‘corner shop’.
The tweet, which was deleted shortly after it was posted, showed a picture of Mr Kahn’s closed office with the caption: “Your next London mayor? You think his corner shop would be open on a Saturday?”
Council leader Coun Michael Stokes said: “His comments were unacceptable and the decision was taken by a unanimous vote to permanently expel Coun Jim Buckley from the Conservative group.”
Coun Buckley said he was mortified to have caused offence to Mr Kahn or the people of Rugby.
He said: “It was an absolutely moronic choice of words. I hope that my constituents know I don’t and never have made assumptions about anyone other than the content of their character.
“If I’ve caused upset to Sadiq or any of the members of community then I am deeply embarrassed. I’d really like to meet Sadiq if possible and apologise in person – that’s all I can say.
“I didn’t even think about it – I would have made the same stupid mistake if it was somebody called John Smith. The idea of anything remotely with a racist context never even remotely occurred to me – that’s why I feel so bad about it.
“I will continue to work hard to serve the people of Hillmorton.”
But an Observer reader who wished to remain anonymous said: “As a resident I am appalled that an elected representative for my town would make remarks which are outwardly racialist in tone.
“He has tried to belittle someone by ridiculing a outdated stereotype. He should do the decent thing and resign.”
London-born Mr Kahn’s family has a British Pakistani background. His office has not responded to a request for comment.
The Conservatives are now outnumbered by non-tories on Rugby Borough Council, following Coun David Ellis’ departure from the party last month which left them with exactly half of the 42 total seats.
Coun Buckley’s dismissal means the Conservatives now have just 20 seats on a ‘hung’ council, and would need help from non-Conservative councillors to pass legislation before full council.