Row over councillor's 'token quota' tweet about Home Secretary Priti Patel

A Wolverhampton Labour councillor has sparked a political row after referring to Home Secretary Priti Patel as Boris Johnson’s "token cabinet quota".

Councillor Paul Sweet's tweet referring to Priti Patel as Boris Johnson's 'token quota on the cabinet'. Photo: Twitter.
Councillor Paul Sweet's tweet referring to Priti Patel as Boris Johnson's 'token quota on the cabinet'. Photo: Twitter.

Councillor Paul Sweet has posted a number of tweets in recent months calling the Conservative MP for Witham the government’s “token quota”.

The tweets have prompted outrage from the leader of Wolverhampton Conservatives, Councillor Wendy Thompson, who described Councillor Sweet’s remarks as “frankly disturbing and wholly inappropriate”.

She said: “People - especially those in a position of responsibility with the word ‘councillor’ before their name - need to exercise a sense of responsibility when using social media.

“Personally attacking people in an unconstructive way is both shocking and unhelpful, and says far more about the writer than the person they are talking about.

“There is no need to be offensive. This sort of behaviour – to use language like that about an MP, or anyone else for that matter – is just not acceptable.”

Councillor Thompson has now put forward a written question which will be tabled at a full council meeting next Wednesday.

She will ask council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield: "Does the leader consider it acceptable for a member of this council to publicly tweet that a female, ethnic minority MP is the “token quota on the cabinet?”

This is not the first time Councillor Sweet has caused controversy with his comments on Twitter.

In February 2020, he replied to a tweet from Jane Stevenson MP , about a visit to a street watch group in the city.

The post on Councillor Sweet’s account read: “F*** o** B***h” followed by a ‘crying with laughter’ emoji symbol.

At the time, leader Councillor Brookfield responded saying he “needed his mouth washing out with soap”.

Councillor Sweet eventually apologised to Ms Stevenson via Twitter eight months later.

He wrote: “In February 2020 I posted a tweet that was inappropriate, rude and contrary to my own beliefs and those of the council in equalities.

“I have personally apologised to the person concerned and I regret my actions. I repeat that apology here and I also apologise to anyone else who my tweet offended.

“I have voluntarily agreed to undergo additional equalities training. I do not intend to make any further comment.”

Councillor Thompson added in light of the latest remarks on Twitter, this apology made her question exactly how effective the equalities training had been.

Ms Stevenson, who was a councillor in Tettenhall Wightwick until March 2019, said the abuse of politicians was putting people off from standing for public office, especially women.

Councillor Sweet was unavailable and did not reply to telephone messages or emails requesting his comments on the matter.

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