Conservative candidate for Wakefield resigns over comments unearthed on Facebook

Antony Calvert has resigned as a Conservative candidate
Antony Calvert has resigned as a Conservative candidate

A Conservative candidate has resigned after comments unearthed on Facebook that were branded racist and sexist.

Antony Calvert, candidate for the key marginal seat of Wakefield, stood down after the comments were revealed, saying he would not “countenance a situation” where the Tory Party was “even marginally distracted” from the key themes of the election.

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Mr Calvert’s candidacy was put under review last week when talkRADIO unearthed comments that included one criticising the looks of Labour's candidate Mary Creagh.

In one post from 2010 he said: "Can't believe just how shocking Mary Creagh looks on TV. Obviously the BBC make up dept don't work on Sunday."

In another post from 2011 he said if former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi wanted to "wander the streets unrecognised he should surely have fled to Bradford".

The Sunday Times also unearthed controversial comments about food banks ahead of the 2015 general election, saying “if ever there was a reason to be involved in public office” it was to expose “ludicrous” claims of food poverty in the UK.

After the latest comments emerged, Mr Calvert stood down, saying: “Over the last 24 hours a number of very historic posts from my personal Facebook timeline have been featured in the news media.”

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“They included comments between me and friends going back almost 10 year, well before I was first a candidate for the Wakefield constituency. These comments were certainly not intended to cause any offence.

"While I would prefer to stand and fight the assertions these comments represent either my views or those of the Conservative Party, I accept that to do this would simply create a distraction from the very serious issues being discussed at the General Election.”

Mr Calvert contested the 2010 election for the Conservatives in Morley and Outwood, losing to Ed Balls by 1,101 votes (Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Images via Getty Images)
Mr Calvert contested the 2010 election for the Conservatives in Morley and Outwood, losing to Ed Balls by 1,101 votes (Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Images via Getty Images)

He went on: "I am not prepared to countenance a situation where the Conservative Party is even marginally distracted from the key themes of the election.

“My sole ambition in politics has been to return a Conservative MP for Wakefield that can make an authentic and last contribution for my home city in Parliament. If my continuing in this role will jeopardise this at all then I have concluded that I must stand down.

“This is a difficult decision for me but I am very grateful to the national and local party for all their support. It goes without saying that I wish the new candidate well.”

Mr Calvert is set to be replaced by counter-terrorism expert Imran Khan.

Mary Creagh shared the statement from Mr Calvert, saying: “Extraordinary that he was a Tory GE candidate in 2010, 15, 17 & 2019.

“What took the Tories so long to realise his views? Will the next Tory candidate for Wakefield be any better? Don’t hold your breath...”

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