Labour councillor and ‘La’ t-shirt maker Philip Normal condemned for ‘racist, Islamophobic’ tweets

·4-min read

Labour councillor and artist Philip Normal has been accused of racism and Islamophobia over a catalogue of historic tweets.

Normal, a councillor for Lambeth in south London known for his slogan t-shirts business, has courted widespread criticism over dozens of disgusting tweets, mostly dating back to between 2009 and 2014, which resurfaced Wednesday (12 January). Warning – offensive content.

“Why do some Muslim women walk like penguins?” tweeted Normal, now 39, on 29 September, 2011. “I’m not being mean? Because I know there’s an issue in the healthcare system there…”

He described Whitechapel, in London’s East End, as an “aggressively Muslim” neighbourhood in a tweet on 22 January, 2013.

(Screen capture via Twitter)
(Screen capture via Twitter)

According to screen captures, he tweeted on 7 July, 2011: “Muslim extremists on the overground seem to love Capri-sun!”

On 27 May 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 blond girl,” he wrote 29 September, 2011, again taking aim at bus passengers.

Among other tweets, Normal used the slur “t****y”. In one, dated 31 May, 2014, Normal simply tweeted the slur in all caps 20 times. He said this was in opposition to not being able to use it on Facebook.

(Screen capture via Twitter)
(Screen capture via Twitter)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)

“T****y” is our word,” he posted earlier that day. “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.”

“And I saw the best bad t****y pushing a wheelchair in a gold pleated skirt blowing a while really loud!” he said 2 December 2009. “Ultimate Camden town experience.”

Across other tweets, Normal used the pejorative “retard”, a hurtful term loathed by advocates for causing “pain for people with intellectual differences“.

Normal served as mayor of London’s Lambeth from 2020 until 2021, making headlines as the UK’s “first HIV-positive mayor”. He found publicity again last year after his It’s a Sin-themed ‘La’ t-shirts raised half a million pounds for HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust

Many members of the LGBT+ community were disgusted by the tweets, calling on the Labour Party to take action against its councillor.

Some noted that the remarks were particularly offensive given that Normal represents Lambeth, a vibrantly diverse borough of more than 300,000 people.

After 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. I have referred myself to the Labour Party for investigation.”

Lambeth Labour told PinkNews in a statement: “We are aware of a number of past tweets being circulated on social media from a Lambeth Labour councillor.

“A Labour Party investigation into these tweets is underway. Lambeth Labour rejects racism and prejudice in all its forms and expects the highest standards of behaviour and integrity from all councillors and candidates, particularly in regards to the fair and equal treatment of all residents in our diverse borough.”

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