A Tory candidate has been criticised after she compared the abuse she receives for being Conservative to homophobic and racist abuse.
Linden Kemkaran, who is standing in Bradford East, said if the word “Tory” is substituted for “gay”, “black” or “trans” in abuse that is aimed at Conservatives then it is “eerily similar to the bad old days of discrimination, bigotry and intolerance”.
She was replying to another Twitter user who had said she understood when “people” say that “coming out” as a Tory is “almost worse” than coming out as gay in today’s society.
It provoked a furious reaction, with her tweet racking up hundreds of replies. Users said it was wrong for her to compare political beliefs with sexuality and ethnicity.
Ms Kemkaran told Yahoo News UK she did not intend to cause offence.
I made this EXACT point on Facebook last week. If you substitute the word Tory with gay/black/trans, the abuse that is heaped on us is eerily similar to the bad old days of discrimination, bigotry & intolerance #tolerance #manners— lindenkk (@Linden_Kemkaran) December 2, 2019
She later tweeted that as a mixed race person she had been given “great insight” into being discriminated against for something “trivial”.
Conservatives pushed through gay marriage - fact. And being mixed race has given me a great insight into how depressing it is being discriminated against for something as trivial as the colour of my skin. I get historical oppression with bells on. I call out hatred and bigotry.— lindenkk (@Linden_Kemkaran) December 2, 2019
Thank you I shall read it. On your other points, I am half-black so have suffered all manner of racial abuse in the past (the bad old days to which I referred). I now call out abuse whenever I see it.— lindenkk (@Linden_Kemkaran) December 2, 2019
A Twitter user said she was suggesting that being held accountable for her “own personal beliefs” was the same as “when people violently attack minorities”.
Another told her that being gay, black or trans is not a choice, to which Ms Kemkaran admitted being a Conservative is a decision she took.
Take your point about it being a choice (being a Tory) but I'm not cruel. I've gone into politics to make a positive difference - change from within.— lindenkk (@Linden_Kemkaran) December 2, 2019
She later clarified that she views hate being thrown at politicians as being the same as hate directed at anyone and also tweeted that she was “making the point that hate and intolerance are not acceptable in any form, to anybody”.
No, I'm saying that heaping hatred upon people who choose to go into politics is just as unpleasant as heaping hatred upon anyone. We all need to be more tolerant of others, no matter who/what they are. That was my point which seems to have been missed rather ...— lindenkk (@Linden_Kemkaran) December 2, 2019
Speaking to Yahoo News UK, Ms Kemkaran said: “I am a woman of colour and a Conservative.
“I experienced years of racist abuse and violence, mostly when at school and in my teenage years. I was regularly threatened and told to ‘go back to where I came from’, and received many, many other insults on a daily basis. I was literally the only brown kid in the village.”
She is glad society is more tolerant and diverse, she said, and claimed to have noticed the abuse she has got since becoming a Tory bears a “similarity” to the abuse she received as a child and was “worried” some people think it is acceptable.
“That was the basis of my tweet which was replying to another woman of colour who said she felt like it was a sort of “coming out” process, admitting she was a Tory,” Ms Kemkaran said.
“Obviously no offence was intended by me and I haven’t taken any offence from the many negative and insulting tweets I received in reply.
“I did my best to respond politely to most people giving my further point of view which mostly was appreciated.”
According to ConservativeHome, Ms Kemkaran has worked as a producer, reporter and presenter for BBC News.
Recently she has run her own production company, carried out freelance journalism and media training, written for the Spectator and handles communications for the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich.