A UKIP Assembly Member has been heavily criticised after a recording of a phone call in which she called a prominent Labour MP ‘a coconut’ was released.
A Labour Assembly Group spokesperson called for Michelle Brown, who represents the North Wales region, to be suspended immediately after the tape was released by her former senior adviser Nigel Williams.
During the course of the conversation, in which she also referred to former Labour MP and current Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum Tristram Hunt as a ‘t**t’, Ms Brown said: “Chuka Umunna is a f***ing coconut.
“He’s got as much understanding of an ordinary black man’s experience as I have.
“He may be black but his mother or his father was British from a very, very influential family.
“He is a coconut – black on the outside, white on the inside, and Barack Obama’s exactly the same.”
Former detective Nigel Williams, who was sacked by Ms Brown in May this year after working for her since her election, told the Daily Post that he had been ‘appalled’ by the recording, which he discovered in his records a year after the conversation took place.
“It’s bad enough coming from anybody, but to come from a newly appointed Assembly Member is absolutely appalling,” he added.
“I’ve seen swearing and I’ve been called all sorts of names myself, but I’ve actually never seen it from somebody in such a position.
“This wasn’t a meltdown. This was just a conversation that Michelle Brown was having, which she thought was OK.”
Labour and Plaid Cymru AMs led criticism of Ms Brown. A spokesperson for the Labour group said: “This is absolutely outrageous language and lays bare the disgusting racism at the heart of UKIP.
“Anything less than immediate suspension would be a clear endorsement of Michelle Brown’s racist slur.”
Plaid leader Leanne Wood said: “This racism reflects poorly on our parliament – the National Assembly for Wales – and that’s why her party should take action on this.”
Speaking to the BBC, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said: “The language is completely unacceptable and it’s regrettable in the second decade of the 21st Century that that type of language is held by people who hold public appointment.
“From my view, if that person was in the Conservative Party – they would be suspended.
“As I said – it is completely unacceptable language.”
UKIP Chair Paul Oakden said UKIP ‘obviously does not condone the personal views expressed by Michelle Brown’.
“We will conduct an investigation into this matter, the findings of which will be passed through to our National Executive Committee so that they might consider disciplinary action,” he added.
However, Mr Oakden also noted that the party would also be investigating ‘whether a UKIP member and official surreptitiously recorded a private telephone conversation with Michelle Brown and then disseminated it without her consent, more than a year after the event’.
In the meantime, two of UKIP’s remaining five AMs criticised Ms Brown’s language.
Caroline Jones said that ‘inappropriate language is not condoned by myself or anyone else in the party,’ while David Rowlands ‘thought we’d put that racist language behind us as a party’.
Responding, Ms Brown said: “The point I was making is that, because of his considerable wealth and privilege, Chukka Umunna cannot possibly understand the difficulties and issues that the average black person faces in this country any more than I can, and I stand by that assertion.
“I do however accept that the language I used in the private conversation was inappropriate and I apologise to anyone that has been offended by it.”