Conservative MP Nadine Dorries confuses BBC contributor with 'other brown woman' Labour candidate
Tory politician accused of ‘mixing up people of colour’ in tweet attacking Corbyn supporters
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been criticised for “mixing up people of colour” after she appeared to confuse two different British-Asian women.
The Tory politician tweeted a dismissive comment about Novara Media editor Ash Sarkar, alongside a video clip of the left-wing commentator discussing Venezuela on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.
But Ms Dorries referred to her as the "prospective candidate for Chingford", when the Labour Party’s prospective candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green is actually Faiza Shaheen.
The error was widely mocked, including by senior Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who tweeted: “No @AyoCaesar and @faizashaheen are two different people Nadine. Honestly not all brown women look the same.”
The MP later apologised, saying she was “really sorry if it caused any offence”. She explained that the mistake was down to similarity in the pair’s accents.
Ms Sarkar told The Independent she and Ms Dorries had actually met in person in recent months, when the pair both appeared on a TV show.
“It’s racist and Nadine Dorries has a long track record of mixing up people of colour who she doesn’t like,” she said. “This seems to be the case, in particular, for people of colour in the public eye who she perceives as uppity.”
She added: “It’s no surprise she doesn’t feel obliged to apologise, given the party’s repeated inaction when we’ve seen similar incidents in the past. Racism is endemic in the Tory party. Hopefully what this will do is encourage progressives to vote them out in future elections.”
Ms Shaheen also addressed the incident on Monday, tweeting: “FYI @NadineDorries I’m Faiza Shaheen, the woman that will kick out IDS [Iain Duncan Smith] at the next general election. And unlike you, my old school friends, teachers and neighbours in Chingford & Woodford Green can tell the difference between me and other brown women.”
The Chingford and Woodford Green candidate also tweeted a photo of her and Ms Sarkar together to show just how dissimilar they look.
The Tory MP emailed an apology to Newsbeat later on Monday afternoon, stating: “It was a tiny video on my small phone screen when I wrote it. I’m obviously really sorry if it caused any offence. I was just guessing really, hence my careful wording of the tweet as in ‘may be’.
“It was the accent I was basing the identification on via my phone as I thought I recognised the voice and it sounded like Faiza.”
Ms Dorries faced a similar controversy over race in 2013, when she suggested Labour MP Chuka Umunna looked like boxer Chris Eubank.
She tweeted: “Apparently I’m racist because I think Chuck (sic) Umunna looks like Chris Eubank? What would I be if I said he looked like someone who was white??”
The Tory MP was forced to deny racism again last year when she said the Uganda-born British journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – who had criticised the royal wedding – should appreciate the country she has “chosen to live, work and benefit from”.
She was also accused of Islamophobia in March 2018 after she suggested Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, should be speaking out against grooming gangs in Telford and Rotherham.
In September, the MP for Mid Bedfordshire deleted a tweet containing a link to a 10-year-old story about Muslims claiming benefits for multiple wives.