Tories urged to drop MP candidate after he accused Sikh Labour rival of 'talking through his turban'

Posted On: 
28th November 2019

The Conservatives have been urged to drop a general election candidate after he accused his Sikh Labour rival of "talking through his turban".

Philip Dunne formerly served as a defence minister

Former minister Philip Dunne made the comment to Kuldip Sahota at a hustings debate in Ludlow, the seat he has held since 2005, on Wednesday night.

Mr Sahota said: "I was shocked and deeply hurt that someone who was an MP for 14 years would make such a derogatory comment about the Sikh faith.

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"These are the kind of offensive comments I remember receiving in the 1970s. They have no place in modern Britain and they certainly have no place in our Parliament.

"I hope the Conservatives will investigate this matter immediately."

In a statement on Thursday morning, Mr Dunne said: "I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments last night. I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused."

But Labour's Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first turban wearing Sikh MP, said the Conservatives would be condoning "blatant racism" unless they removed Mr Dunne as a candidate.

"This disgusting, racist remark wasn't just made by a Conservative parliamentary candidate, it was made by someone who was a Conservative MP for 14 years, who has served as a minister in several Conservative governments, and this year was even given an honour by the Conservative leadership," he said.

"This attack on the turban, which we consider a crown, is an attack on the entire Sikh community, who fought and died for Britain wearing those same turbans.

"The Conservatives must suspend him immediately and strip him of his honour. Anything less that that will be condoning blatant racism."

The incident comes just hours after the Tories were forced to suspend Glasgow Central candidate Flora Scarabello for making Islamophobic remarks.