Labour councillor slams ‘unacceptable’ homophobic slur made by Conservative candidate

Gedling Borough Council Deputy Leader, Michael Payne

Labour councillor Michael Payne has slammed the “unacceptable” and “outdated” homophobic slur that was used against him in a social media post by a Conservative Party candidate.

Payne, a deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council in Nottinghamshire, discussed the “personal attack” during a talk with the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The homophobic slur was made by Conservative Party member Keith Seaton during a social media discussion on Tuesday (9 January), BBC News reports.

Michael Payne, Gedling Borough Council Deputy Leader
Labour candidate for Gedling, Michael Payne has called out a Conservative Party member for using a homophobic slur against him.(X/@MichaelPayneUK)

Seaton, who unsuccessfully ran as a candidate in the borough council election last May, has since issued an apology for the comment and been suspended from the Conservative Party.

“When you wake up to an ugly, offensive, and despicable homophobic attack on you by a Gedling Tories council candidate and activist, it makes you even more determined to stand up for the values of decency, equality, respect and compassion in society,” the Gedling Borough Council deputy leader had tweeted on Wednesday (10 January).

Payne said that he was first alerted to Seaton’s inappropriate comment by a Gedling resident.

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Payne, who is married to Councillor Kyle Robinson-Payne, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s an utterly outdated and unacceptable view, particularly for someone who stood to represent the Conservatives a matter of months ago.

“This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. This was an open outright personal attack on social media from someone in a senior position.

“My message is: challenge me on my politics but don’t attack me for my personal life.”

The Labour councillor commented that the “good news” in all of this was that Seaton has since been suspended from the Conservative Party for using the slur – though he wondered whether or not that suspension would be a permanent one.

Seaton had made the “despicable” comment while replying to one social media commenter, who had predicted that Payne will win the next General Election as a parliamentary candidate for Gedling.

Equally outraged was Payne’s husband, who tweeted: “Shocking that a leading member of Gedling Conservative Party has resorted to homophobic slurs against my husband.

“It is despicable that Tom Randall MP has chosen to associate with Keith Seaton, despite many residents commenting on the character of this individual.”

Gedling Conservatives have since confirmed that Seaton has been suspended from the party, and apologised to Payne for the controversy.

“This is unacceptable and we are sorry that you – and others – have had to read this,” a tweet from the party read.

“The member involved in this has been suspended from the party and the matter is being investigated by central office. Our party stands against all forms of discrimination and is open to all.”

Seaton has also issued a public apology, which read: “Online debates always get heated but I regret the language I used and have since edited my comment.

“It was not directed at any individual or group I apologise for the offence caused.”

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