Home Secretary’s anger at Peterborough Labour activist’s ‘coconut’ jibe

Tariq Mahmood
Tariq Mahmood

The new Home Secretary has spoken out angrily in Parliament against “racist” abuse he claims to have suffered from a Peterborough Labour Party activist and members of the “hard left.”

Sajid Javid expressed his anger at being called a “coconut” during a debate in the Commons today. The word had been used in a Facebook post from Tariq Mahmood who campaigns for Labour election candidates in Peterborough and attends election counts with them.

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid

Mr Mahmood, who is not a member of the Labour Party, has been heavily criticised by Conservatives, but he insisted he was referring to the shape of Sajid Javid’s head and that he could have used the words “turnip” or “egghead” instead.

He told the Peterborough Telegraph: “Coconut as far as I’m concerned is not a racist word. If someone twists the word that’s their problem.”

However, Mr Javid said today members of the hard left had created a “hostile environment” which had led to him being called a “coconut” and an “Uncle Tom” after being named Home Secretary on Monday, following the resignation of Amber Rudd.

In 2010 a Liberal Democrat councillor was found guilty of racial harassment in court after describing an Asian political opponent as a “coconut.” The phrase can mean brown on the outside, ‘white’ on the inside.

Speaking before Mr Javid’s comments, a Labour Party spokesman said: “Any complaints we receive which relate to party members are fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action is taken in line with our procedures.”