John Cherry, a Conservative county councillor in Sussex, resigned from both his party and the council after a national scandal surrounding deeply prejudiced comments about Brixton schoolchildren.The slur, which I will not quote, was in response to Stockwell-based Durand Academy announcing plans to open a boarding school for 600 secondary school-aged pupils in a village 5 about miles southwest of Haslemere. The Academy, which enjoys a gold standard reputation for academic excellence, has received praise from across the political spectrum for what has been described as ‘an innovative social experiment’. Clearly this is a view that is not shared by a tiny, bigoted fringe that should lie on the outer edges of society. Evidently, there are a few such people who somehow remain in positions of responsibility.Cherry alleged that certain ethnic groups lacked the work mentality of others, in what was a disappointing display of regressive stupidity.
Within a day of the national press covering the story, the retired merchant banker stood down. It is reassuring that his intolerant views were rejected by his Conservative colleagues so swiftly, but less so that it is still possible to be so ignorant of Britain’s wealth of cultures in modern Britain.John Cherry said that the Academy should take over another school in London rather than opening one in rural Sussex. In order to educate him on the benefits of multiculturalism, he should undertake some form of community work in Brixton, or, as Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey has suggested, visit Durand Academy, where he can see how successful multiculturalism is where intolerance and hate have become a thing of the past.
Perhaps then he might consider the effects that words can have on the people they are used about, and might consider with more care the value of the near-eradication of racism in modern Britain.I understand that, as his nominations for the May local elections were submitted weeks ago, they are ‘locked’- so Cherry will appear on ballot papers and as the Conservative candidate next week. Streatham Young Labour is aware that West Sussex is not the strongest Labour area, but urges voters to reject the disgraced Conservative candidate. It would be a humiliation for Cherry’ ward if they re-elected him despite the disgusting views that he has aired in public.
Originally written for Streatham Young Labour