(Title Image: via Facebook)
The Western Mail has reported that Conservative councillor Cllr. Aniel Pucella – one of four councillors representing the Brackla ward (and also a member of Brackla Community Council) – has been suspended by the Bridgend Council Conservative group and the party after being named in a “dossier” of 25 party figures who’ve expressed or shared Islamophobic views.
He shared third-party “jokes” on social media which referred to the “killing of non-believers” and illegal immigrants dying in a house fire in Australia. He accepts that “some Muslims” would’ve found the posts offensive. The posts are dated October 2013 and May 2014.
It’s something of a further embarrassment in the midst of a UK general election campaign full of serious gaffes by the Welsh Conservatives. Also, one of his Tory colleagues on Bridgend Council – retired consultant orthopaedic surgeon (and also briefly an AM), Cllr. Altaf Hussain (Con, Penyfai) – is Muslim. Both councillors were elected in 2017.
Although the suspension is presumably temporary subject to further investigation, it means that since the 2017 local elections, the Tory group on Bridgend County Borough Council has lost 4 seats through suspensions and resignations alone.
There have been calls for a formal and independent investigation into Islamophobia within the Conservative party, to the same extent as an Equality & Human Rights Commission investigation into antisemitism within Labour.