A Conservative general election candidate has been accused of racially abusing his Labour competitor at a hustings last night.
Labour supporters have demanded former Tory defence minister Philip Dunne step down after he told Labour’s Kuldip Sahota “he’s talking through his turban”.
Sahota, who is challenging the seat of Ludlow that Dunne has held for 14 years, said he found the comment reminiscent of 1970s racism.
Sahota said: “I was shocked and deeply hurt that someone who was an MP for 14 years would make such a derogatory comment about the Sikh faith. This is extremely insulting to the Sikh community.
“These are the kind of offensive comments I remember receiving in the 1970s. They have no place in modern Britain and they certainly have no place in our parliament.”
The remark is said to have been made at a hustings in the Shropshire town of Church Stretton.
Labour MP for Slough, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, tweeted that he was “appalled”.
Dunne has since apologised for the comment, saying in a statement: “I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments last night. I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused.”
But Singh Dhesi has applied pressure on the Conservatives to deselect Dunne.
He said: “This disgusting, racist remark wasn’t just made by a Conservative parliamentary candidate, it was made by someone who was a Conservative MP for 14 years, who has served as a minister in several Conservative governments, and this year was even given an honour by the Conservative leadership,” he said.
“This attack on the turban, which we consider a crown, is an attack on the entire Sikh community, who fought and died for Britain wearing those same turbans.
“The Conservatives must suspend him immediately and strip him of his honour. Anything less that that will be condoning blatant racism.”
Both major parties in the general election are coming under significant pressure to address accusations of racism and religious prejudice within their ranks.