Invited by the University of Birmingham Conservatives, controversial backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg visited campus on Friday 9th March, speaking about his views on free speech, housing, mental health, Russia and tuition fees to a packed lecture theatre of around 300 students.Written by Erin Santillo & John Wimperis on 16th March 2018
Solihull Councillor Suspended Over Tweets
The Conservative majority Solihull Borough Council is continuing to face allegations of fostering a culture of online hate and xenophobia
Complaints have now been made against two councillors, Jeff Potts and Margaret Bassett, after they retweeted posts that called for Muslims to be deported from the UK ‘or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come’.
The latest allegations follow last summer’s suspension of Councillor Ken Hawkins from his Cabinet position. Hawkins caused uproar after posting the words ‘Let's get ourselves a hangin!’ (sic) above images of Grenfell Tower protesters.
“Let's get ourselves a hangin!
The latest investigation is against Councillor Jeff Potts who retweeted posts that included: ‘You’ve clearly not experienced the Pakistani hospitality, having a daughter raped by men who think she’s “white trash”’.
West Midlands Police launched a probe into Potts at the beginning of the month. The force stated: ‘We can confirm that Solihull Police have received two allegations of hate crime. An appointment has been made with the complainant and enquiries are on-going’.
Bassett, who has also faced allegations of an Islamophobic rhetoric, retweeted a comment, directed at the U.S. that stated, ‘Islam has no place in this country’. This was in addition to retweeting posts made the by former EDL leader, Tommy Robinson. Bassett, who currently sits on the Committee on Religious Education, defended the tweets, stating: ‘I do think it’s a political witch hunt. I am not anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish or anyone else’.
“I do think it’s a political witch hunt. I am not anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish or anyone else
The local Conservative group has since suspended Potts, although Bassett and Hawkins both continue to represent the party.
Redbrick contacted the Conservative Party for comment but, at the time of going to press, received no response.
Mend, a charity dedicated to tackling Islamophobia in the UK, stated: ‘retweeting offensive and prejudiced views clearly demonstrates both support for these sentiments, and attempts to achieve wider support’. The charity urged the party to investigate Islamophobia within its ranks. It argued that ‘the failure of fellow Conservative councillors to report xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic comments is indicative that many within the Conservative group may find these views acceptable’.
“We need to send a clear message that these views are absolutely not shared by the council and that everyone is welcome in Solihull
Leader of the opposition, Councillor James Burn, has issued a response to the allegations. ‘I have been shocked and dismayed at the recent tweets sent by some councillors on Solihull Council’, he said.
‘Their views are not representative of the people of this borough, and have caused considerable upset to many of our residents who have been left feeling unwelcome in their own hometown’.
Burn added, ‘As a council, we need to send a clear message that these views are absolutely not shared by the council and that everyone is welcome in Solihull’.