Boris Johnson’s former race adviser accuses Tories of ‘inflaming culture wars’

Samuel Kasumu said he feared some in Downing Street were pursuing a strategy of exploiting division for electoral gain (Picture: PA / Samuel Kasumu / Twitter)

Boris Johnson’s former race adviser has warned of another Jo Cox or Stephen Lawrence tragedy as he accused the government of stoking a ‘culture war’.

Samuel Kasumu said he feared some in Downing Street were pursuing a strategy of exploiting division for electoral gain that could result in severe consequences for the country.

‘There are some people in the government who feel like the right way to win is to pick a fight on the culture war and to exploit division,’ he said.

‘I worry about that. It seems like people have very short memories, and they’ve already forgotten Jo Cox.’

The country was rocked when Labour MP Jo Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed in her constituency by a far-right supporter five years ago today.

Mr Kasumu believes her murderer was potentially radicalised and worked into a ‘frenzy’ by the culture war narratives in certain newspapers and pushed by media commentators.

He said that he would ‘place a bet’ that without change, we will see more hate-fuelled tragedies like the assassination of Ms Cox or the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence.

Samuel Kasumu

Mr Kasumu warned of a repeat of a Jo Cox or Stephen Laurence tragedy (Picture: Samuel Kasumu/Twitter)

‘If I was going to go to William Hill today and place a bet on what the most likely option is, I’d probably say a Jo Cox, a Stephen Lawrence, a Windrush scandal is where we’re headed if you don’t find a way to overcome this cultural moment,’ he told The Guardian.

‘I feel like the Government must be the ones to try to help drive that change.’

Mr Kasumu quit as a special adviser to the Prime Minister in April after a widely criticised race report said Britain is no longer a country where the ‘system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities’.

In his resignation letter, he accused the Tories of pursuing ‘a politics steeped in division’ and suggested Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch may have broken the ministerial code in her Twitter attack on a young black journalist.

She accused Nadine White, then working for HuffPost, of ‘creepy and bizarre’ behaviour in a Twitter thread when she asked a simple question about a Covid vaccines video. The journalist received an abusive pile-on which forced her to close her Twitter account and which led to an alert about the risk to media freedom being registered with the Council of Europe.

Kasumu told The Guardian: ‘I don’t have any personal issues with [Badenoch]. But when that happened, a lot of things went through my mind. I thought to myself, if that young journalist was my sister, or relative of mine, how would I feel about a minister responding to her in such a way?’. 

‘I thought, if the journalist was Andrew Neil, or Laura Kuenssberg, or Robert Peston, would the minister have responded in the same way? Were the minister’s actions distracting people from very important public health messages? It just led me to the conclusion that it was completely unacceptable.’

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘The entirety of the UK Government is focused on defeating this pandemic and building back fairer for everyone. That is our priority.

‘The minister for women and equalities clearly set out in her Fight for Fairness speech the Government’s plans for an evidence-based equality agenda in the UK.

Jo Cox

Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered five years ago today (Picture:

Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack (Picture: Metropolitan Police)

‘This includes racial equality, which is why the Prime Minister set up the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and, following their detailed report, the Government will shortly respond to their recommendations.’

It comes on the fifth anniversary of Jo Cox’s death.

Her family has marked the anniversary by saying they remain optimistic about a future where people recognise the things ‘we have in common’.

A statement said: ‘We all miss Jo every day.

‘Her energy, warmth, passion, humour and love.

‘She looked for and believed in the best of people and the best of our country, for what unites us, rather than where we disagree.

‘We remain optimistic that her vision of a country where we are better at recognising what we have in common is gradually getting closer.

‘Though our family has been devastated by our loss, we still feel Jo’s love as a mum, wife, daughter, sister and auntie every single day of our lives.’

The Jo Cox Foundation was set up after her murder and campaigns under the banner ‘More in Common’ with the aim of bringing people together, and also campaigns abuse and intimidation of people in public life.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.


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