The transgender model Munroe Bergdorf has been appointed as an LGBT adviser to the Labour party in a move that has been criticised by the Conservatives because of her previous controversial comments.
Bergdorf said on social media she was “absolutely delighted” to be part of a panel to support the shadow equalities minister, Dawn Butler.
But the Tory vice-chairman , Helen Grant, wrote to Butler urging her to reconsider because of a Facebook post last year that resulted in L’Oreal ending a partnership with the model.
In comments that Bergdorf insisted were taken out of context by newspapers, she wrote that she no longer had the energy to talk about the “racial violence of white people any more”.
The post, published in the wake of the white supremacist rally in the US city of Charlottesville, added: “Yes ALL white people. Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism.”
Grant also highlighted a tweet in which Bergdorf said the suffragettes were “white supremacists who were fighting for WHITE women’s rights”, arguing they specifically left black people out of the movement.
And the MP, who is the Conservative vice-chair for communities, also complained that Bergdorf had called gay Tory activists a “special kind of dickhead” and suggested white people had been conditioned to be racist.
“There really is no excuse for these abhorrent slurs and, fundamentally, they damage the campaign to promote equality and diversity across public life,” wrote Grant.
“When Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, he promised a ‘kinder politics’. Yet it seems every day we see some new example of abuse from the Labour party. The kind of language Bergdorf has used has no place in public life, and ought to be condemned by all those who are serious about promoting equality.”
Bergdorf defended her position at the time that L’Oreal took action, arguing that she was angry after the scenes in Charlottesville and wanted to explain that racism was systemic, and that being racist was not just about attacking people, but failing to take action against the system.
“In my head I didn’t think there would be that much of a problem in identifying that racism is coming from white culture, white privilege, white supremacists. Society is built on the premise of white supremacy,” she told Channel 4 at the time, pointing out that her mother and that entire side of her family were white.
“I don’t see how calling out the roots of racism, somehow makes you a racist,” she added, calling the controversy the “worst time of my life”.
A spokesperson for Butler said: “Dawn is proud to stand with those challenging discrimination. Dawn will consult with the LGBT+ advisory group on a wide-range of LGBT+ issues.”