Hastings Conservatives have picked a racist to represent them in the current Borough Council elections.

In a Twitter post on March 9, John Sydes [@johnsydes] wrote:

Every Tom Dick Harry and Meghan is jumping on the “race card” these days.

Following up with this comment:

Black people should by default win all awards regardless of talent. Also, all black people should be promoted regardless of talent. Black people are the future, white people should cower in the magnificence of black peoples superior skin colour and magnificence.

The comments have since been roundly condemned by many on Facebook.

Sydes’ remarks, because of their racism, are designed to wound. Racism as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race”. So Hastings & Rye Labour Party have no hesitation is calling John Sydes a racist.

‘Sydes has been a member of UKIP and the Brexit Party … any  rightwing group that will have him’

But it doesn’t say much for the party who picked him to represent them in Castle ward. 

The Conservatives are obviously not fussy.  And Sydes certainly isn’t. He’s been variously a member of UKIP and the Brexit Party. Any rightwing group that will have him in fact.

Labour has brought this to the attention of the Conservatives and also Electoral Services at Hastings Borough Council.

Racism is corrosive: it results in discrimination, poor health and fewer opportunities for ethnic minority people in our society. Something we saw all too plainly at every stage of the pandemic.

We believe a man like Sydes should not represent our town – and that voters in Castle ward will agree. And we challenge the local Conservative party to disown Sydes and his racist views.

No apology from Tories

Since our statement went out, the Tories say they have  ‘instigated an urgent investigation’ at the request of MP Sally Ann Hart. But there is no apology from the party to the people of Castle or the town.

Martin Clarke, chairman of the Hastings and Rye Conservatives, said in a press statement:

“We have been made aware of offensive comments on social media by John Sydes, a candidate for borough council in Castle Ward. Offensive language is unacceptable, and these comments do not reflect our values as an association or as a party. Therefore we have instigated an urgent investigation into this matter.

“I have spoken to John and made him aware that these comments are unacceptable. He clarified that these comments do not reflect his true beliefs and that he has apologised to the association and to the public for any offense caused. Whilst it is easy for people to make political capital from screen shots taken out of context John agrees that any of these which could cause offense are not acceptable.

“The Hastings and Rye Conservative Association has always prided itself on being a welcome environment for people of all backgrounds and beliefs. We will continue to support the diversity that makes Hastings strong.”

Questions for the Conservative Party:

Don’t you do background checks on prospective candidates? If you did, you would have learnt about some of Sydes’ “offensive views”. If you don’t, what sort of party are you?

Sydes has apologised to you – but not to the people of Hastings or Castle ward.

Blaming people for drawing attention to Sydes’ remarks is just shooting the messenger.

As a party, when are YOU going to apologise to the electorate?