'Woke rubbish': Losing candidate on stir over 'unspellable' names comment

Chaos at Thames ward by-election count

Conservative candidate Andrew Boff has been accused of using 'inappropriate language' at the Thames ward by-election count. - Credit: Andrew Boff

The Conservative candidate in the Thames ward by-election has been accused of using "inappropriate language" aimed at the borough's diversity.

At the ballot count at ExCeL London today (May 8), Andrew Boff bucked convention to take to the stage after Labour's Fatuma Nalule had been announced as the by-election winner and given her victory speech.

As part of the impromptu address, he thanked his campaign team and agent, with an accompanying reference to being "united by a passion for the people and unspellable surnames". 

This latter remark caused a stir among those watching on.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell said he felt the use of "unspellable surnames" was pointed, something Mr Boff denies.

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"When he got to the stage, a position he would have known he wasn't entitled to, the language he used was inappropriate," Cllr Rodwell said.

"This is true in any context, but especially when it seemed to be directed at the electorate, and the diversity of Barking and Dagenham."

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Mr Boff stated the comment was in reference to his campaign team - Tilly Wijesuriya, Eunice Acheampomaa and agent Martynas Cekavicius - who all have "unpronounceable, unspellable surnames".

Barking and Dagenham by-election count chaos

The candidates watch on at the by-election count for Barking and Dagenham's Thames ward. - Credit: Cash Boyle

"They care so much about the people of Barking, and they don't care about this woke rubbish that's trying to be pinned on this."

All three members of Mr Boff's team - present when this response was given - said they did not take offence from the comment.

When asked why he decided to buck tradition by giving a speech, Mr Boff said: "I don't really believe in convention!"

The Conservative candidate, who polled second on the day (939 votes to the 1,545 secured by Labour), had earlier expressed issues with the vote count.

This was resolved without a recount, and Ms Nalule duly elected.

Cllr Rodwell dismissed the justification offered by Mr Boff, who he claimed was "angry about losing".

"We're very clear. The Barking and Dagenham Labour party fights all kinds of bigotry."

Full election coverage, for the Thames by-election and further afield, can be found at barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/election-2021-city-east-gla-thames-ward-7955054

Profiles of those who ran in the Thames ward by-election can be found at barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/meet-thames-ward-by-election-candidates-7891708


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