Oliver Letwin's claim that helping black youth in the 1980s would have merely helped them to "set up in the disco and drug trade” has led to savage mocking of his comments - about disco.
The Tory's "racist" remarks were revealed in declassified government documents published by the National Archives on Wednesday. His comments followed the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots in north London, when he was a policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher.
But while many were quick to lambast Letwin for his attitude towards black people, others - including journalist Jeremy Vine - highlighted the absurdity of his "disco" warning.
Ah yes, so many lives irreversibly ruined by the evils of the “disco trade” pic.twitter.com/Tzu3B4cJw1— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) December 30, 2015
In fairness to Letwin, "disco" has always been an especially pernicious trade, and a gateway to harder stuff like "funk" and "house".— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) December 30, 2015
the weirdest thing is that Oliver Letwin still thinks disco was a thing in 1985— Sean Kavanagh (@PlinyTheMundane) December 30, 2015
Oliver Letwin worrying about the 'disco and drug trade' like he's the minister from Footloose.— Joe Murphy (@JophesRumphy) December 30, 2015ADVERTISEMENT
Shows you how out of touch these Tory toffs are. Disco was long dead by 1985. #Letwin— Barnaby Wilde (@WildeBarnaby) December 30, 2015
Also, what exactly is the disco trade? Sounds like fun #Letwin— michael blair (@MichaelBlairSky) December 30, 2015
The documents revealed that Letwin blamed “bad moral attitudes” for the rioting that broke out in across several predominantly black inner-city areas.
He also dismissed claims the disturbances were the result of deprivation and cabinet pleas to help black youth, scoffing they would simply "set up in the disco and drug trade.”
Despite cabinet colleague demanding that assistance be given to impoverished communities following the riots, Letwin dismissed the proposals, rubbishing the tabled £10million communities programme as nothing more than a subsidy for "Rastafarian arts and crafts workshops.”
The news of Letwin's comments has sparked fierce opposition, particularly from Labour MPs.
Chuka Umunna, who grew up in Lambeth, criticised Letwin's attitudes as being ignorant and "disgusting".
The Labour MP said in a statement: "The authors of this paper illustrate a complete ignorance of what was going on in our community at that time, as evidenced by their total and utter disregard of the rampant racism in the Met Police which caused the community to boil over - there is no mention of that racism in their paper.
"The attitudes towards the black community exhibited in the paper are disgusting and appalling. The tone of it in places is positively Victorian.
"People will draw their own conclusions but I hope the authors will feel thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed at what they wrote back then. At the very least they should apologise."
The Booth/Letwin 1985 paper for Mrs Thatcher, released today, illustrates a complete ignorance of what was going on in our community then.— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) December 30, 2015
Diane Abbott slammed the Tory MP, against whom she stood in the 1987 General Election, and said there was "no excuse" for his "bigotry".
Scarman Inquiry on 1981 riots dealt exhaustively with economic & social factors. No excuse for 1985 Letwin bigotry pic.twitter.com/7DoFhTw5me— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) December 30, 2015
Is Letwin proud to have blocked action against bad housing & to encourage entrepreneurship after 1980's riots? pic.twitter.com/Dp5BSqSgwE— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) December 30, 2015
Letwin my Tory opponent in 1987 GE. Somehow he forgot to mention his views on black people & our "moral attitudes" pic.twitter.com/1p02BW2RVJ— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) December 30, 2015
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, said Letwin's comments show how out of touch those in authority are with the public.
Letwin comments are misguided and offensive. It shows just how out of touch those in power can be with the reality of what is happening.— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) December 29, 2015
And many were filled with disbelief that a man who advises the Prime Minister held these thoughts.
Yes. Yes, we actually live in a country where people who think this advise the PM on government policy. https://t.co/4W5Prrgjgx— Adam Jogee (@AJogee) December 29, 2015
Cameron's policy advisor thinks black British people are thieving drug dealers. Letwin must resign, not get away with apology! @tom_watson— Marcus Storm (@MarcsandSparks) December 30, 2015