POLITICS
27/09/2019 11:14 BST | Updated 27/09/2019 12:29 BST

Tory MP Desmond Swayne Says Wearing Blackface An 'Entirely Acceptable Bit Of Fun'

Former minister comes close to admitting to doing it himself.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Conservative MP has said wearing blackface is an “entirely acceptable bit of fun” and came close to admitting he has done so himself.

Desmond Swayne, the MP for New Forest West, said he once went to a party as the singer James Brown and dressed as “authentic as possible”.

The comments were made in a blog post on his website in which he defended Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau has seen his general election campaign overshadowed by the revelation he wore blackface or brownface on multiple occasions in the past.

Swayne, a former international development minister, wrote earlier this month: “I suspect that Justin Trudeau’s cringing apology for blacking himself ‘blinded by his own white privilege’ has done him rather more harm than the original offence.

“It was a themed ‘Arabian Nights’ fancy-dress party for heaven’s sake!

“It comes to something when you can’t dress-up as Aladdin without attracting the opprobrium of the ‘great and good’. He would have done better to have said it was an entirely acceptable bit of fun and refused to apologise.

“I once went to a ‘Blues Brothers’ themed fancy-dress party as James Brown. I went to some trouble to be as authentic as possible. I can assure readers of this column that I have no intention of apologising.”

Swayne added he often heard from constituents who were “infuriated by some latest absurdity of political correctness”.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow women’s and equalities secretary, said the Conservative Party had to “explain what action will be taken against” Swayne.

“This is a Party that failed to reprimand an MP who used the N-word, implemented the hostile environment policy that has led to black people being wrongfully deported, and is run by Boris Johnson whose racist words incited a 375 per cent increase in racist hate crime,” she said.