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Conservative councillor resigns after racist comments

Cllr John Cherry of Chichester District Council has resigned from the Conservative Party after comments he made opposing a state boarding school opening in his area.

Cllr Cherry says:

"My remarks about Durand Academy, as reported in the Mail on Sunday today, were plainly wrong. They were thoughtless and extremely foolish. I unreservedly apologise and withdraw them. I very much regret the distress this must have caused."

His remarks were as follows:

"Ninety-seven per cent of pupils will be black or Asian. It depends what type of Asian. If they're Chinese they'll rise to the top. If they're Indian they'll rise to the top. If they're Pakistani they won't.

"There are certain nationalities where hard work is highly valued. There are certain nationalities where they are uncertain what this hard work is all about.

"If the children are not allowed out of the site then it will make them want to escape into the forest - it will be a sexual volcano.

"Has anyone asked whether these children want to be plucked from their natural surroundings? They have never done boarding before, so they won't know how it works.

"The trauma of taking the children out of their natural surroundings is going to be considerable."

Durand Academy is planning to use a site a disused boarding school in Stedham in West Sussex.

The Conservative Party had already made clear that if Cllr Cherry had not resigned he would have forced out. This is right. I do not accuse Cllr Cherry of racial hatred. It may well be that if a black or Asian resident of the Stedham Ward had emailed him seeking assistance over a planning application that he would have provided it. It may well be that as a "committed Christian" he would have come to the aid of such a resident had he seen them on Midhurst High Street under attack from some skinhead thug from the BNP.

However the mistake that Cllr Cherry makes is to regard black people as inferior. This is racism of a different variety but it is still unacceptable. Cllr Cherry thinks it was fine for him to go to Wellington but that black children should stay in their "natural surroundings."

Cllr Cherry should consider the evidence from the United States where a voucher system has meant black children are able to close the gap on white children. Last year I wrote for The Spectator about the dramatic progress children in care (often from ethnic minorities) make when placed in boarding schools.

The truth is that Durand Academy is a fantastic success story. In sniping and suggesting that high standards of education are unsuitable for poor people or black people Cllr Cherry enters into an unholy alliance with the National Union of Teachers. They are the enemies of promise. Rather than embracing aspiration they feel people should know they place and take what they given.

The Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg rightly called for Cllr Cherry to be forced out of the Conservative Party. Now this has happened would Mr Twigg care to put his own house in order? Several Labour councillors have made the most appalling comments rejoicing in the death of Lady Thatcher. Does Mr Twigg find that acceptable?


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