In an age of political gaffes, it seems that we can always rely on our elected representatives to come out with statements ranging from the banal to the crashingly crass. A Havering councillor claimed earlier this week that a proposed merger with Newham council would be 'like putting an African team and an English team together'.
Councillor Jeffrey Tucker departed from message somewhat to criticise a plan to bring together Newham and Havering's back office services, saying that white council workers would find it 'awkward and uncomfortable' to work with Newham's black council workers.
"I think it’s a terrible idea, I can’t see the two councils being able to work together. We’ve got 95% white English workers in Havering Council and Newham Council is 95% not white English. It would be like putting two football teams together – an African team and an English team – and saying: ‘Get on and work together’.”
Needless to say, the remarks didn't win him any friends at Newham, who issued a statement in conjunction with Havering denouncing Tucker's comments and calling them 'offensive and intolerable'.
Clearly not content with attempting to recreate apartheid in the name of efficient working, Tucker also described Newham as 'filthy' with unwashed windows and (laughably) residents who don't take their curtains down and wash them like they do in Havering. We think it's safe to say he's not down with the merger.
Much as we'd like to just consign Tucker to the 'fucking idiot' pile, we despair at how often politicians come out with this kind of claptrap. In time-honoured fashion, Tucker has denied accusations of racism on the basis that he has black friends:
“This isn’t about race at all - I just think Havering isn’t ready for the level of diversity already present in Newham - that’s all. Havering has a mass white English staff and residents, this is not the case in Newham Borough and of course it’s going to cause problems.
“I’m not a racist, I have good friends that are black and anyone that knows me knows I’m not like that."
Well, that's OK then.
Photo by cubemate in the Londonist Flickr pool.