Seven disgraced election candidates: from aliens to offensive tweets

Sex, drugs and the electoral roll, the 2019 general election has seen a number of candidates step down already

Labour MP Keith Vaz is standing down after causing ‘significant damage’ to the reputation of Parliament
(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

The selection of candidates for a snap general election always throws up some unusual personalities and, with the major parties all finalising their choices ahead of the 12 December poll, this time is no different.

The Week takes a look at seven candidates who have been grabbing the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Kevin McNamara - Liberal Democrats

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McNamara stepped down as the Lib Dem candidate in Thurrock, Essex, after tweets emerged in which he appeared to use racist and homophobic language.

According to the Daily Mirror, the Lib Dems said it had “immediately opened disciplinary investigations” after screenshots showed he used the word “n*****” on various occasions, as well as using the homphobic slur “f****t”.

He has apologised, saying: “I am deeply sorry for the comments that I made that are currently being reported in the press.”

Francesca O’Brien - Conservatives

O’Brien made headlines earlier this month, when an old social media comment was unearthed in which she said that people on reality TV programme Benefits Street needed “putting down”.

According to The Guardian, O’Brien replied to a friend’s comment about the TV show, saying: “My blood is boiling, these people need putting down.” The newspaper adds that she also apparently endorsed another suggestion of “twat a tramp Tuesday”.

Selected to stand in Gower, South Wales, a Labour-held Tory target seat, O’Brien apologised for the comments. The Conservative Party told the Guardian that it was standing by O’Brien.

Chris Williamson - Labour

A long-standing figure of contention in the Labour Party, Derby North MP Williamson was deselected ahead of the December election after he was suspended over accusations he had downplayed anti-Semitism in the party.

A video emerged in which he claimed Labour had been “too apologetic” over anti-Semitism allegations. The Guardian notes that Labour also imposed a separate suspension on 3 September over “additional allegations of misconduct”, while Williamson also lost a High Court bid to be reinstated to the party.

Williamson was barred from standing by the party’s national executive committee (NEC), but vowed to stand as an independent in Derby North, adding that the party had “capitulated to the Jewish Labour Movement”, PoliticsHome reports.

Keith Vaz - Labour

Vaz announced that he would be standing down from politics at the general election. The Labour MP was facing a six-month suspension from the House of Commons for causing “significant damage” to the reputation of the House, HuffPost reports.

The suspension followed the news that Vaz had expressed a willingness to purchase cocaine for others during an encounter with male prostitutes, the website adds. His excuse that his drink had been “spiked” and that he was suffering from amnesia was “not believable and, indeed, ludicrous”, said the Commons disciplinary body.

The Leicester East MP had the whip removed by Labour. He announced he was stepping down after 32 years in Parliament, saying that the people of Leicester “will always be in my heart”.

Anthony Browne - Conservatives

A former aide to Boris Johnson, Browne is also facing calls to stand down after Labour accused him of “disgusting racism” over some of his writings.

Browne, who is the Tory candidate in the Conservative safe seat of South Cambridgeshire, blamed immigrants for bringing germs and HIV to the UK and accused Muslims of having divided loyalties, according to The Guardian.

In an article for The Spectator, Browne wrote: “It is not through letting in terrorists that the government’s policy of mass migration – especially from the third world – will claim the most lives. It is through letting in too many germs.” The article was published in 2003, while Johnson was the editor of the magazine.

A spokesperson for the party told the Guardian that Browne’s comments were made “over 15 years ago” and he has apologised. He is still the party’s candidate.

Gideon Bull - Labour

Bull withdrew as a Labour candidate after accusations that he used the insulting term “Shylock” at a meeting where a Jewish councillor was present.

A councillor from the London borough of Haringey, Bull had been selected as Labour’s candidate in the Essex seaside town of Clacton. However, he pulled out after referencing the Shakespearean Jewish moneylender in a council meeting, according to the BBC.

Bull claimed it was “entirely false” that he was referring to the council, adding in a statement that when he was informed of the offence caused he “immediately apologised and explained that I did not know that Shylock was Jewish and I would never have mentioned Shylock if I had known this”.

Labour has not commented on Bull’s resignation.

Jill Hughes - Brexit Party

From disgraced to the bizarre… Brexit Party candidate Hughes, who would otherwise still be standing in the Labour constituency of Batley and Spen, stood down two weeks ago, after apparently revealing that she does not believe she is from Earth.

Hughes said that she was from the distant star Sirius, that aliens are already working for foreign governments and that her horse had been reincarnated, according to The New European.

She also claimed to believe in “elves/fairies/mermaids/unicorns and all things elemental and otherworldly”. Metro says it is not clear if her departure is linked to her unusual beliefs, and neither she nor the party has commented.

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