David Lammy is calling for a controversial ex-Tory councillor to stand down after he sent an offensive blackface image on Twitter.
Bob Frost, councillor for north Deal in Dover, tweeted an image of a character in blackface in response to a post from the Labour MP about the recent Gucci jumper row.
Lammy wrote in response: “Councillor @bobfrost you owe me and my wife an apology. You dishonour your wonderful community in North Deal and your country. You should stand down.”
Frost then dismissed his initial tweet as a joke, calling the Labour MP a “humourless prat”.
A number of aghast online users were also offended by Frost’s tweet. One user wrote: “The oldest line in the book. Say something formidably offensive and excuse it by saying ‘only joking’. Passable if a teenager. Not as a grown wanker. Only joking.”
Another posted: “That should be a sackable offence”
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Frost said: “This whole matter is literally a storm in a tea cup.” He said the photo, of the character Papa Lazarou from BBC comedy The League of Gentleman, was not racist.
“Lammy, as ever, was getting on his high-horse furore. He’s a self-publicist, let’s face it. He whines about absolutely anything and everything. I merely pinged over a photo of Papa Lazarou and it looked almost identical and, rather amusingly, the tagline that he went around saying was ‘you’re my wife now, Dave’,” Frost said.
When asked whether or not he would apologise to Lammy, Frost said: “Apologise for what?”
Referring to the Gollywog characters which featured on the jars of Robertson’s jam, and were particularly popular between the 1950s and 1980s, Frost argued that blackface has only recently become offensive because “values change over time” and previously “nobody considered them to be a reference to persons of colour”.
When asked how he’d explain his use of the image to black constituents, he told HuffPost UK: “I would try to explain exactly what I’ve said to you – everything is context.”
“There’s important things to be getting on with out there - which I am trying to do as a councillor for the better of the community. This is just noise. People love getting really excited and offended. Racism is a word that’s used nowadays when anybody is losing an argument over anything.
“Rod Liddle is probably the best person who’s spoken on that, the outrage that people get into.”
Last year, Frost was suspended from the Tory party after apparently sending another racist tweet and suggesting a Liverpool abortion clinic is a form of crime prevention.
A spokesman for the Conservative confirmed to HuffPost UK at the time that Frost had been suspended and was being investigated centrally.
This was the councillor’s third suspension from the party in recent years.
As it stands, he is not currently a member of any political group.