Derbyshire County Council leader sparks anger after describing Black Lives Matter movement as ‘pernicious’

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The leader of Derbyshire County Council says he stands by comments he made describing the Black Lives Matter movement as ‘pernicious’.

Councillor Barry Lewis’ remarks on the social networking site Twitter have attracted a wave of condemnation.

Black Lives Matter protests during the summer – including in Derbyshire – were fuelled by outrage over the death of black man George Floyd in Amercian police custody.

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Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council.Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council.
Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council.

Coun Lewis, leader of the Conservative-controlled county council, put on Twitter that a speech by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch was ‘well worth listening to’.

He said it was a ‘brilliant speech countering the pernicious, anticapitalist Black Lives Matter movement and their toxic identity politics infiltrating society, history and, sadly, some of our schools’.

Chesterfield Stand up to Racism called Coun Lewis’ remarks ‘disgraceful’ and said he was ‘fast becoming the Derbyshire version of Donald Trump’.

Former High Peak Labour MP Ruth George, who is now a councillor representing Whaley Bridge, described Coun Lewis’ words as ‘shocking’.

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A peaceful Black Lives Matter protest was held in many places across Derbyshire in the summer. This one took place in Buxton.A peaceful Black Lives Matter protest was held in many places across Derbyshire in the summer. This one took place in Buxton.
A peaceful Black Lives Matter protest was held in many places across Derbyshire in the summer. This one took place in Buxton.

“We need leaders to support people in minorities who suffer, not to seek to denigrate the organisation that at last gives them a voice,” she said.

Coun Lewis stands by his comments.

He said: “Along with many people across the world I was appalled by the vicious manner of the death of George Floyd in the USA. The resulting cry that ‘black lives matter’ and the focus on the issues faced by black and minority ethnic people in our communities, in our workplaces and in all walks of life had and still has the potential for good.

“Indeed I spoke on the issue at a full council meeting earlier this year and we illuminated County Hall purple to mark it.

“My tweet and my comment here supports the excellent speech made by the Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch in the House of Commons, where she eloquently drew the distinction between a view that she and I share that ‘black lives matter’ and the pernicious nature of Black Lives Matter UK: the hard-left, anticapitalist organisation behind much of the toxic identity politics that has become about toppling statutes, defacing our heritage, tearing up our history and indoctrinating young people to be guilty about their skin colour. Their support, shared by many on the left in the UK, USA and beyond, for critical race theory is the definition of divisive.

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“I am proud we live in a tolerant society that welcomes and supports many cultures, religions and races. It is by no means perfect and we can do better. The narrative and methods being pedalled by Black Lives Matter UK that the Equalities Minister spoke about, which is being supported by those on the hard-left of Labour, is divisive and harmful most of all to those that are genuinely passionate about seeing real equality in our communities.

“So I very much see it as my role as a leader to speak out about such matters and I stand by my words – I will not be silenced by shrill left-wingers determined to shut down debate by implying anyone who does not agree with their warped world view to the letter is racist. Those people have had it their own way for far too long. Moderate voices, where real tolerance and support for equality are to be found, are now speaking up.”

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