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County Durham Tory candidates suspended over racist and Islamophobic social media posts

TWO Tories standing in May’s council election in Durham have been suspended by the party over racist and Islamophobic social media posts. 

The Conservative Party is investigating Durham County Council candidates Terry Batson and Laura Rides over posts which anti-racism campaigners have described as an “outrageous attack on Muslim and BAME communities.”

Mr Batson, standing in the Tow Law ward, shared an image of a golliwog on Facebook, while another post launched an offensive diatribe at a black Labour activist, referring to “coloured citizens.”

Local businesswoman Ms Rides, a candidate in Consett North, admitted to being Islamophobic in a Twitter post in January 2020, claiming that she did not hate Islam but was “to a degree fearful” of the religion.

She added: “Yet with terror attacks, grooming gangs and the way Muslim women are treated, I find that, although it is a minority of people who follow Islam who do these things, I do not see the community of Islam standing up and condemning them.”

Both individuals have now been referred to Tory headquarters for investigation. 

Alex Mayer of Stand Up to Racism North East said: “The Islamophobic and racist comments that have been made by two candidates for the Tory Party in County Durham are an outrageous attack on Muslim and BAME communities. 

“No-one from any party should be standing or be selected when they hold these backward views. It is important that these candidates have been disciplined. However, their backward ideals and views are clearly much more widespread within the Tory Party. 

“It isn’t a surprise that Tory candidates would make such remarks. This government has continued to propagate Islamophobia and racism from the top.”

Both candidates were endorsed on social media by North West Durham MP Richard Holden, leading to calls for him to also face investigation. 

A County Durham Anti-Racism Coalition spokesman said: “Holden should definitely be suspended pending an investigation into why on earth he’s endorsed these candidates. He can’t deny that and it’s not good enough for an MP who’s meant to be representing a constituency such as ours.”

The Conservative Party and Mr Batson were approached by the Star. Ms Rides could not be contacted for comment.

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