A senior Conservative MP has described wearing blackface as an “entirely acceptable bit of fun”.
Sir Desmond Swayne hinted he wore blackface when attending a fancy dress party as soul singer James Brown – and said he “went to some trouble to be as authentic as possible”.
The former minister also defended the embattled Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose re-election campaign ran into trouble after photographs showed him dressed in an Aladdin costume and wearing black make-up.
Labour immediately criticised the comments by the MP for New Forest West, and called on the Conservatives to take action.
Mr Trudeau had expressed regret after images and a video of him wearing blackface emerged – and said “the layers of privilege” he benefited from meant he did not see that darkening his skin was racist.
But on his official website, in a blog post entitled Trudeau’s Turban, Sir Desmond argued the Canadian politician should not have apologised.
The Tory, who was knighted by David Cameron in 2016, wrote: “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.”
Asked by Sky News if he had worn blackface, Sir Desmond said: “I think you can draw your own conclusions from [the blog].”
Shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler said: “This is another example of a politician not even trying to understand the history of oppression and racism.
“Desmond Swayne has not only admitted to blacking up himself, but is now actively encouraging others to do so.
“The Tories need to explain what action will be taken against him and whether this took place while he was a government minister.”
Sir Desmond was in the news earlier this year after he appeared to fall asleep in the House of Commons.
The MP said at the time the picture of him dozing behind former chancellor Ken Clarke was “horrible” and “embarrassing”.
Source : Sky News : http://news.sky.com/story/blackface-entirely-acceptable-bit-of-fun-says-tory-mp-sir-desmond-swayne-11820863
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