Tory MP defends 'blackface' and admits dressing up as James Brown

The MP has defended 'blackface'

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Conservative MP has insisted that wearing 'blackface' is an "acceptable bit of fun", and admitted to once dressing up as the American singer James Brown.

Sir Desmond Swayne said he had gone to "some trouble to be as authentic as possible" with his costume, and had "no intention of apologising" for it.

However, he did not say explicitly whether he had used makeup to darken his skin.

The New Forest West MP made the comments on his personal blog, in a post titled 'Trudeau's Turban'.

In it, he defends the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's decision to don dark face makeup at an 'Arabian Nights' themed event, which he apologised for after a photo of the costume emerged.

Justin Trudeau was widely criticised for the costume

The photo which originally appeared in a 2001 yearbook was republished by Time magazine, and shows the then-29-year-old Mr Trudeau in a turban and robe, with a darkened face and hands.

"It comes to something when you can't dress up as Aladdin without attracting the opprobrium of the ‘great and good’," Sir Desmond wrote.

"He would have done better to have said it was an entirely acceptable bit of fun and refused to apologise."

He continued: "I once went to a ‘Blues Brothers’ themed fancy-dress party as James Brown. I went to some trouble to be as authentic as possible. I can assure readers of this column that I have no intention of apologising."

The MP dismissed criticism of 'blackface' as an "absurdity of political correctness".

"Constituents often write to me having been infuriated by some latest absurdity of political correctness," he continued.

"I tell them that the best response is simply to laugh at it."

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