“We’re all about peace and love, and he calls us gangsters”
Members of an Irish rap group have called out London Mayoral candidate Rory Stewart over his remark that they are “sort of minor gangsters.”
Stewart made the comment during a talk held at London’s Emmanuel Centre on Wednesday (October 23) in which he reflected on his summer 2019 Tory leadership bid. The politician recalled an encounter in June where two men – who he referred to in his speech as “sort of minor gangsters” – refused to speak to him on camera as part of his filmed campaign walking tours.
The men in question, Lilo Blues and Tony Konstone of Dublin hip-hop group Hare Squead, declined his request to chat to him at the time, saying that they didn’t “fuck with politics.”
In Wednesday’s speech Stewart said that social media had enabled him to show that politicians are listening during the leadership election.
“One thing about social media is that it allows people to see politicians listening … I can go to Brick Lane and three sort of minor gangsters can come up to me and spend a minute telling me I’m an idiot,” he said. “And I can film it on my phone and put it up. And people love watching people being rude to politicians” [quotes via The Guardian].
Now, Blues and Konstone have spoken to The Guardian about Stewart’s fresh comments, accusing the Mayoral candidate of being “racist” and of taking “advantage of black boys when it’s convenient.”
“I’m not a gangster, I’m not pretending to be and I’m not going to let some corny, goofy-looking man say I am,” said Blues. “We’re all about peace and love, and he calls us gangsters. It was definitely racist.”
He continued: “It’s just another example of another weirdo white man trying to take advantage of black boys when it’s convenient, then ridiculing them.”
His bandmate Konstone added: “The irony he’s running for mayor of London. He judged us off about 15 seconds. He didn’t even have a decent conversation with us.”
Blues said of the Brick Lane encounter: “I saw this opportunistic white man from a distance has noticed us three black lads and he’s, like, getting really giddy and tells his camera, ‘Lets go’ … and then there’s the awkward conversation. Then he goes, ‘OK I’m a politician,’ so I was like, ‘Nice to meet you but I’m off to get some Nandos’.”
Stewart has today (October 25) apologised for his remarks, saying that he was “completely wrong.”
“I hope anyone who has watched the video will understand I was describing a light-hearted encounter in which some men were – completely understandably- gently mocking me. I was trying to describe the incident to an audience that hadn’t seen the video,” he wrote on Twitter.
“(cont)…in order to poke fun at myself as a politician in an awkward encounter. I am really sorry for causing offence. Thank you also to @DavidLammy for raising this too. I am really sorry.”
Other politicians have condemned Stewart’s remarks, including shadow home secretary Diane Abbott who Tweeted: “It is completely shameful. Especially when it comes from someone running to be the mayor of our diverse and multicultural capital city.”