Labour says Philip Normal’s ‘racist’ tweets weren’t picked up because ‘he did not declare them’
Embattled British politician Philip Normal “did not declare” the litany of “racist and transphobic” tweets that prompted his downfall.
Normal, a 39-year-old former councillor for south London’s Lambeth, resigned following a roaring scandal that saw his offence historic tweets resurface.
Among the tweets, jibes against “big Black men”, “hairy Arabs with big hands” and “Muslim terrorists” on the subway, as well as the use of slurs such as “t****y” and “r****d”.
Less than a day after the tweets came to light, Normal stepped down from his years-long role as Oval councillor for Lambeth Labour on Thursday afternoon (13 January).
His resignation left open questions of how the tweets, both in their number and vitriol, were not picked up by the Labour Party when he first applied to be a councillor.
But those meant to act as a check for prospective candidates have said they were not aware of Normal’s tweets because he did not “declare” them when applying, Labour officials confirmed to PinkNews.
Labour Party assessing complaints made against Philip Normal
When a person vies to become a councillor, the council itself does not vet them. Instead, the party they hope to represent does.
For Labour, this vetting process is operated by a patchwork of Campaign Forums, powerful party committees that coordinate with their local constituency Labour Party (CLP) to scrutinise candidates.
Per the Labour Party Rule Book, council candidates must go through a consistent application process.
“During the application, they are required to declare anything that may impact their candidacy or their ability to represent the council and the public as an elected councillor,” a spokesperson for the Labour Lambeth Campaigns Forum told PinkNews.
“Philip Normal has resigned due to tweets that he did not declare during the process in 2017 and which date from several years before he applied to be a council candidate.”
Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann, a Lambeth-based art historian, claimed on Twitter that his own historic tweets – written before he was a member of the Labour Party – led him to be “ruled ineligible as a candidate” by the committee despite having been shortlisted for his ward.
3 months ago, having been shortlisted by my ward, Lambeth LCF ruled me ineligible as a candidate due to historic tweets (some before I was LP member but all supporting CLP positions) against library closures, childrens centres cuts&estate demolition. Interested to see result here https://t.co/9Gh3Dl98i2
— Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann (@benwwk) January 12, 2022
“In the case of candidates who have been removed from the panel due to behaviour and social media comments,” the committee spokesperson said in response, “this has followed a thorough investigation after complaints were made.”
When asked whether the party would consider changing its vetting policies in light of the Normal saga, a Labour spokesperson did not answer directly.
“The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously,” the representative said, “and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate action is taken.”
It is also understood that complaints have been filed around Normal and are now being assessed by Labour officials. Such disciplinary assessments are confidential, however.
Labour councillor bows out after ‘offensive and discriminatory’ tweets
Philip Normal’s drastic fall was almost shocking in its sheer drop.
Only last year, his It’s a Sin-themed ‘La’ t-shirts raised more than £500,000 for HIV charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust.
The year before, he became Britain’s first openly HIV-positive mayor, bringing the then Lambeth mayor to the national stage.
But from at least 2009 to 2014, Normal tweeted a raft of remarks that, in his Wednesday apology, he would come to call “offensive and discriminatory”.
On 29 September, 2011, he posted: “Why do some Muslim women walk like penguins? I’m not being mean? Because I know there’s an issue in the healthcare system there…”
Normal tweeted on 7 July, 2011: “Muslim extremists on the overground seem to love Capri-sun!”
“I’ve not touched up my new assistant yet,” he wrote on 22 October, 2011. “But I will later. #SleazyBoss.”
In one tweet, he wrote the transphobic jab “t****y” over and over again 20 times.
“T****y” is our word,” he posted on 31 May, 2014. “We’ve used it in London for years.”
“I have today resigned as a Lambeth councillor and a Lambeth Labour candidate for Oval ward,” Normal tweeted Thursday.
“I want to apologise again to everyone who I have caused deep hurt and pain to due to my past social media posts.
“I’m proud to have been a ward councillor for Oval and Mayor of Lambeth and I am sorry that my past actions from before I was elected have undermined the positive work that Lambeth Labour councillors do to advance equality in our diverse communities.”
The string of tweets touched off fierce criticism online, mounting pressure for Normal to apologise and quit – or for Labour to suspend him.
Even the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, one of London’s oldest queer venues, distanced itself from Normal.
“I want to make it very clear that bigoted language of any kind is not tolerated at this venue,” said the nightclub’s CEO James Lindsay on Twitter.
“We are not associated with him and he is no longer welcome at The RVT.”