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Johnson told to drive out ‘dinosaur mentality’ from Tory party after race row

dinosaur mentality

Johnson told to drive out ‘dinosaur mentality’ from Tory party after race row

Boris Johnson has been urged to drive out a “dinosaur mentality” from the Conservative party amid warnings that an MP mixing up two ministers of Asian heritage was “not an isolated incident”.

James Gray confused his Tory colleagues Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid at a charity reception in parliament last month, allegedly saying “they all look the same to me,” it emerged on Tuesday.

It was the second time in less than a month that Javid, the health secretary, was mistaken for another minister of Asian heritage. He was confused with Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, at Conservative party conference in Manchester. A fellow delegate commented on him being driven in a gas-guzzling car despite supposedly being in charge of the climate summit, it is understood.

On Tuesday, Gray, the MP for North Wiltshire, was called in for a meeting with the chief whip and reminded of the standards expected of him. St John Ambulance, which appointed Gray as a commander last year, stripped him of the role after the alleged racist remark made at an event held in honour of its volunteers in September.

Gray, who was hosting its reception, tried to introduce Javid but incorrectly called Zahawi, the education secretary, up to the front. When the mistake was pointed out, the MP was said by a witness quoted in the Daily Mail to have told the audience: “They all look the same to me.” The witness added that Zahawi pulled Gray to one side for a private conversation afterwards.

Gray denied making that specific remark, telling the BBC he thought he might have said “I mixed you up” and adding it was a “very silly non-story”. In a statement to the Daily Mail on Monday night Gray insisted he had said the ministers “look very alike” and that he was “sorry if I got you two mixed up”. He added that the two were close friends of his and that “the notion this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous”. His office did not respond to requests for further comment.

A spokesperson for St John Ambulance said it “does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form”, adding: “We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”

The revelation about Gray’s comment prompted criticism from Sajjad Karim, a Tory former MEP. “He should have apologised immediately,” he said. “It’s certainly demonstrative of the huge journey the Conservative party needs to go on when it comes to the issue of diversity and – dare I say it – levelling up internally.”

Karim told the Guardian it was “not an isolated incident at all” and that he had lost count of the number of times other minority ethnic Conservatives had recounted being confused with someone else or he had experienced it personally, including being mistaken for the innovation secretary, Syed Kamall.

He said it was symptomatic of a “dinosaur mentality” and signalled his concern at the seemingly soft action taken against Gray. Karim said Gray should at the very least apologise and undergo diversity training, adding: “It is a clear signal that such behaviour and flippant reactions by perpetrators are still regarded as the order of the day. Back to the 50s, 60s and 70s, it is.”

A Tory anti-racist activist, who asked not to be named, called Gray’s remark “unpleasant and sloppy” and said comments like his would not have been accepted under past Conservative leaders but “in the post-2016 era, we seem to have to accept mediocrity”. Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said it was a “sign of an endemic inability and lack of political will to tackle racism”.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”

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Peace Accord With Jonathan Secured 2015 Polls- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that signing of the Peace Accord with former President Goodluck Jonathan and other presidential candidates in the build up to the 2015 elections contributed largely to the peaceful outcome of the polls.

The president stated this when he received the National Peace Committee (NPC), led by former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, on Thursday at State House, Abuja.

“The timing of the First National Peace Accord is significant considering political party campaigns have already commenced in the country.

“The initiatives undertaken by the NPC are commendable as these efforts would ensure issue-based campaigns.

“I look forward to the second phase of the signing of the National Peace Accord coming up in January 2023.

“You may recall that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and I signed the first National Peace Accord before the 2015 elections.

“It is my conviction that it contributed significantly to the peaceful outcome of the 2015 election.

“It is my hope that the National Peace Committee continues this important work post 2023,” the president said.

Buhari reiterated that credible, free and fair elections could only be achieved in a peaceful environment.

He added that the signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions underlined his resolve for a transparent and all-inclusive Electoral Process.

He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to conduct themselves in a manner that would ensure the successful conduct of the 2023 elections as well as smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another.

Abubakar, who briefed the president on the activities of the Committee in the build-up to the 2023 elections, said they met with various stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Heads of security agencies.

He affirmed that the meetings further reassured the readiness and preparedness of the affected stakeholders to conduct the polls creditably.

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Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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