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Former Mayor of Lambeth resigns as councillor following revelation of shocking Islamophobic tweets

28th Jan 2022
Former Mayor of Lambeth resigns as councillor following revelation of shocking Islamophobic tweets

Elham Asaad Buaras

Lambeth Council’s former mayor has resigned as a councillor following the resurfacing of a catalogue of racist and Islamophobic tweets.

Philip Normal, who represented the Oval ward for Labour, was widely criticized over scores of vile tweets, mostly dating back to between 2009 and 2014, which were uncovered on January 12. Announcing his resignation Normal, 39, tweeted: ‘I have today resigned as a Lambeth councillor and a Lambeth Labour candidate for Oval ward. I want to apologise again to everyone who I have caused deep hurt and pain due to my past social media posts.’

After hours of backlash, Normal, who served as mayor of Lambeth from 2020 until 2021, making headlines as the UK’s first HIV-positive mayor, apologised on Twitter. ‘I am profoundly sorry for the content of some of my historic tweets,’ he wrote.

‘I sincerely apologise to everyone who has seen them and who I have insulted by their contents. ‘Reading them now I am horrified and deeply disappointed in myself. They are clearly offensive and discriminatory. They do not reflect my views and values today. I have referred myself to the Labour Party for investigation.’

Normal, a fashion designer, likened Muslim women to penguins in the tweets.‘Why do some Muslim women walk like penguins?’ tweeted Normal on September 29, 2011. ‘I’m not being mean? Because I know there’s an issue in the healthcare system there…’

On January 22, 2013 he dubbed Whitechapel as an “aggressively Muslim” neighbourhood.. And on July 7, 2011 he wrote “Muslim extremists on the overground seem to love Capri-sun!” On May 27, 2011, he wrote out a lengthy hashtag slamming a “big Black man” for taking up room on a bus. “He’s not sucking my d**k,” he added in the hashtag.

“Hairy Arab with big hands with his arm around young British blonde girl,” he wrote 29 September 2011, again taking aim at bus passengers.

Across other tweets, Normal used the pejorative “retard”, a hurtful term loathed by advocates for causing “pain for people with intellectual differences”. A Labour spokesperson told The Muslim News,

“The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate action is taken.”

However, the sheer volume and vitriol of the tweets has left lingering questions of how the Labour Party in Croydon failed to notice them during his councillor nomination processes for the 2018 local elections.
According to media reports officials tasked with vetting prospective candidates have said they were ignorant of his tweets because he did not “declare” them when applying.

In a statement issued to Pink News, a Labour Party spokesperson said that when members apply to stand for candidate selection, “They are required to declare anything that may impact their candidacy or their ability to represent the council and the public as an elected councillor.

“Philip Normal has resigned due to tweets that he did not declare during the process in 2017 and which date from several years before he applied to be a council candidate.”

Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann, a Lambeth-based art historian, claimed on Twitter that his own historic tweets – written before he was a member of the Labour Party – led him to be “ruled ineligible as a candidate” by the committee despite having been shortlisted for his ward.

Photo: Philip Normal(Credit: Lambeth Council/CC)

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