Peterborough Labour activist denies racism after calling new Home Secretary a '˜coconut'

An activist for the Labour Party in Peterborough has categorically denied being racist after being criticised for calling the new Home Secretary a 'coconut.'

Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 5:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 5:47 pm
Tariq Mahmood

Tariq Mahmood said the Facebook comment on his personal account was to do with the shape of Sajid Javid’s head and that he could have used the words “turnip” or “egghead” instead.

Mr Mahmood, who is not a member of the Labour Party, has been strongly criticised for the “coconut” comment by Conservative MPs and local Tory members, but 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.”

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The Facebook post from Tariq Mahmood

In February UKIP Assembly Member in Wales Michelle Brown was excluded from the assembly for a week after calling Labour MP Chuka Umunna a “coconut.”

And in 2010 a Liberal Democrat councillor was found guilty of racial harassment in court after describing an Asian political opponent as a “coconut.”

Mr Mahmood described Mr Javid as a “coconut” after sharing a Sky News article with the headline ‘Sajid Javid announced as new Home Secretary after Amber Rudd’s resignation’.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Any complaints we receive which relate to party members are fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action is taken in line with our procedures.”