Shaun Bailey, the very dim Tory candidate for London Mayor, came in for another round of criticism last night after his Twitter account posted praise for the supporters of far-right racist extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known to some as “Tommy Robinson”.
Meanwhile, a senior Croydon Conservative councillor and sometime paid staffer of the party re-Tweeted the same social media message, attracting dozens of “likes” from fellow Tories and other right-wingers.
Bailey, an unimpressive member of the London Assembly, had expected to challenge Sadiq Khan at the polls last month, until the Mayoral and London elections had to be postponed because of the covid-19 pandemic. It seems unlikely that Bailey’s gaffe-prone social media campaign will improve his chances of becoming London Mayor any time soon.
Bailey’s tweet yesterday responded to an online message boasting that “Team Tommy” had been helping to clean graffiti on statues after Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest in central London. Bailey’s Twitter feed retweeted the message, adding: “Thank you”.
Bailey was condemned for this apparent support for far-right groups, and his message was soon removed.
Not so with Croydon Tories’ less-than-nimble Ian Parker, though, whose own endorsement of the far-right Tommy Robinson was still online this morning.
Parker is a former political aide to “Lord” Gavin Barwell, having worked as his party agent at three General Elections, and he is ward councillor colleague in Coulsdon Town to Mario Creatura, who until recently was the social media “expert” at No10 Downing Street.
In the past, Parker has been employed as the Croydon Conservative Federation’s local organiser, though his profile on the council website fails to show any declarations of interest.
“At least some faith in human nature restored,” Parker tweeted, gnomically, yesterday as he circulated the message – the same one endorsed by Bailey – from “Jack Dawkins”, an account apparently operated by supporters of Yaxley-Lennon.
Among those to “like” Parker’s tweet were long-time Barwell fan-boy and local Tory Party member John Broadarse and Donald Ekekhomen, a Conservative Party candidate in the 2018 local elections and their parliamentary candidate for Croydon North at last December’s General Election.
Parker’s tweet was also re-tweeted by right-winger and former Croydon UKIP member Michael Swadling.
Before the weekend’s Black Lives Matter marches, the “Tommy’s Team” Twitter account had branded protesters as “vermin” and “ferals”, and had posted messages saying that Yaxley-Lennon had been “stitched up” over a recent arrest.
The same account posted video of men surrounding a war memorial on Whitehall, with a message that read: “We’ve got our football lads and patriots alike out in London protecting our memorials and statues from BLM rioters.” It described protesters as a “mob of thugs.”
And a picture of a teenager protesting on the Cenotaph was accompanied by the message: “They laughed at Enoch Powell”.
Labour MP Dawn Butler publicly messaged the Tory Mayoral candidate: “Shame on you for sharing content from a hateful, Islamophobic Tommy Robinson supporter today, Shaun Bailey. You should apologise to Londoners.”
Bailey had the good grace to concede that an error had been made. “Thanks – you’re right about Tommy Robinson. As soon as my team were made aware of the account and what ‘Team Tommy’ meant, the tweet was deleted,” he wrote.
There has been no similar mea culpa, however, from Croydon Tory Parker.
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