Philip Normal has resigned as a Labour councillor for Lambeth, completing a stunning downfall for the politician after he was accused of racism and Islamophobia.
Across a catalogue of tweets dating back to 2009 and 2014 that surfaced Wednesday (12 January), Normal wondered why “Muslim women walk like penguins” and described “Muslim extremists” on the London Underground.
In other inflammatory tweets, he used transphobic and ableist slurs and fumed about a “big Black man” before adding: “He’s not sucking my d**k.”
After the tweets touched off a wave of fury from LGBT+ people, Normal, 39, apologised for his remarks and referred himself to the Labour Party for investigation. But on Thursday, he resigned from his post altogether.
“I have today resigned as a Lambeth councillor and a Lambeth Labour candidate for Oval ward,” Philip Normal tweeted Thursday.
I’m proud to have been a ward councillor for Oval and Mayor of Lambeth and I am sorry that my past actions from before I was elected have undermined the positive work that Lambeth Labour councillors do to advance equality in our diverse communities.
— Philip Normal (@philipnormal) January 13, 2022
“I want to apologise again to everyone who I have caused deep hurt and pain to due to my past social media posts.”
“I’m proud to have been a ward councillor for Oval and Mayor of Lambeth and I am sorry that my past actions from before I was elected have undermined the positive work that Lambeth Labour councillors do to advance equality in our diverse communities.”
In a statement to PinkNews, Labour Lambeth councillor Claire Holland, the leader of the south London borough’s council, said Normal stepping down will not be a quick-fix to the “hurt” his “appalling” remarks caused.
Trust, she said, must be earned.
“I welcome his decision to resign and unequivocally condemn the tweets and the sentiments expressed in them,” Holland said.
“On behalf of Lambeth Labour, I am very sorry that such appalling statements were made by a member of our group. I deeply regret, and I share, the hurt caused in our community by this incident.
“Yet I know that sorry is not enough. Many in our community continue to experience racism and are exposed to discrimination in their daily lives.
“There is a great deal that we must do to reach out to our communities: to listen, understand, and earn back their trust – which I am absolutely committed to doing.”
“I know that whilst this incident is particularly shocking, our Black, Asian and multi-ethnic residents, staff and councillors face racism and prejudice on a daily basis and throughout their lives.
“Being anti-racist isn’t just about how we respond to an incident such as this but how we listen, the actions we take and doing and knowing better.”
Philip Normal slammed for ‘offensive and discriminatory’ tweets
As the somewhat eccentric owner of a slogan t-shirt company, Normal came to national attention after becoming the first person living with HIV to be elected mayor in Britain in 2020, serving for the municipal year.
His It’s a Sin-themed ‘La’ t-shirts, produced under his namesake brand, raised more than £500,000 last year for HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust.
But Normal faced criticism when a raft of tweets written when he was in his late 20s and early 30s came to light.
Among the alarming remarks, on 29 September, 2011, he tweeted: “Why do some Muslim women walk like penguins? I’m not being mean? Because I know there’s an issue in the healthcare system there…”
Normal, who for years represented one of London’s most diverse districts, described east London’s Whitechapel as an “aggressively Muslim” area.
Describing two experiences on the 55 bus in separate since-deleted tweets, Normal mocked a “hairy Arab with big hands” and a “big Black man”.
According to screen captures, he tweeted on 7 July, 2011: “Muslim extremists on the overground seem to love Capri-sun!”
Another is simply the slur “t****y” written in capital letters 20 times.
“T****y” is our word,” he posted on 31 May, 2014. “We’ve used it in London for years.”
The day after, he tweeted: “I love the word homo. Shall I do a HOMO t shirt? I’m doing a T****Y one.”
Following hours of backlash, Normal 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.”
PinkNews contacted the Labour Party for comment.