Articles

Conservatives lose their cherry

By April 22, 2013February 18th, 2021No Comments

A MIDHURST councillor has resigned from the Conservative Party after making “thoughtless and extremely foolish” comments about immigrant school children.

John Cherry claimed Pakistani children would fail to “rise to the top” and some nationalities were “uncertain” what hard work is about.

The Chichester district councillor was responding to proposals by a South London academy to open an Eton-style boarding school in the West Sussex countryside.

He warned the children would want to “escape into the forest – it will be a sexual volcano”.

But after being heavily criticised for the comments, Mr Cherry resigned from the Conservative Party and apologised.

He said: “My remarks about Durand Academy, as reported in the Mail on Sunday, 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.”

The plans of the Durand Academy, which is based in Stockwell, south London, have sparked some opposition from people living near the proposed boarding school site.

The proposal is to use St Cuthman’s School, a disused boarding school in Stedham, West Sussex.

Mr Cherry, who represents the village, told the Mail on Sunday: “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.”

The Wellington and Cambridge-educated chartered accountant has lived in the area for more than 30 years, according to the Chichester District Council website.

His biography on the website says the “committed Christian” is “passionate about the preservation of this beautiful area for current and future generations, within a framework run by local people”.

Labour MP Kate Hoey, whose Vauxhall constituency contains the academy, said on Twitter: “I invite Cllr Cherry to visit Durand Academy in Stockwell to meet those who will be boarding. Stedham will gain hugely from their presence.”

The Tories had begun action to suspend Mr Cherry before his resignation. A spokesman described the comments as “totally unacceptable” and said they “do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party”.

The Durand Academy scheme would bus 600 13 to 18 year olds from Stockwell to the Stedham site, where they would board for four nights a week.

After the row erupted, Mr Cherry said: ““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 has caused.”

John Cherry represents Midhurst for West Sussex County Council and also represents Stedham for Chichester District Council.

For the full story and reaction see Thursday’s Observer.

Dr Andrew Emerson comments

6:59 PM on 22/04/2013

The timing of Cllr Cherry’s remarks is interesting. Too late for his name to be removed from the ballot paper as a Conservative, but in time for him to receive the credit from his constituents for opposing the new school.

Did he actually state that both he and they were against the new school? Perhaps that was merely implied.

In any case, I do not criticize Cllr Cherry for his comments on race. He has the right of free speech like everyone else. No-one has a right not to be offended, however.

What I do criticize him for is his abject apology. But this is typical. The Conservative Party (like the other parties of the Establishment, including the one whose leader is always appearing on BBC Question Time) is full of shivers looking for a spine to run up and down.

Chichester Observer