An activist appointed by Sadiq Khan to review London’s historical statues has been called a “racist” after he accused Labour MP Diane Abbott of being “disloyal to her own community” and David Lammy of being a “poor example of Africans”.
Toyin Agbetu, who was recently appointed to the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, made a series of disparaging racial remarks about senior black Labour politicians in a blog online, it was reported in The Telegraph.
The comments have led Shaun Bailey, the black Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, to urge Sadiq Khan to immediately remove the commissioner due to his “racist past”.
In a blog post condemning Ms Abbott’s decision to run for the Labour leadership in 2010, Mr Agbetu said the Hackney MP had been “disloyal to her own community and, worst yet, with minimal coercion, willingly betrayed herself” by engaging in frontline politics.
He went on to say that Labour would not win black votes by “elevating a woman who – to be frank – the African community is embarrassed about”.
He also directed criticism at Labour MP David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, Baroness Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and Baroness Amos, who has served as British High Commissioner to Australia.
“Lammy, Amos and Scotland are all poor examples of Africans whose quest for influence and status has dwarfed their duty to human rights, social justice for African people and opposition to imperialism,” he said.
He added: “Many Africans in positions of status cling to their scraps of celebrity as if they are owed it by virtue of their ethnicity.”
Sadiq Khan’s Commission for Diversity has come under heavy fire from academics and members of the public alike.
Oxford Professor Nigel Biggar recently warned: “To compose a panel without any politically conservative historians is both illiberal and lets the false ‘decolonising’ assumptions go unchallenged.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq makes absolutely no apologies for acting to ensure our public realm reflects the amazing wealth of diversity of our city and our history.
“City Hall carried out an open and transparent recruitment process in order to form an inclusive and representative board of the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm.
“All panel members were assessed for the role by a review panel and a decision was made on the basis of what they could bring to the role.”
“Toyin Agbetu was appointed for his significant expertise, knowledge and experience as a social rights activist and in setting up Ligali, which challenges the misrepresentation of African people and culture in the media.
“His vast experience will provide a valuable contribution to the Commission.”
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