Tory MP Rory Stewart labels his constituents “primitives”

by Stephen Tall on July 25, 2010

The Cumbrian News and Star reports on rising star Tory MP Rory Stewart’s fulsome apology following some bizarrely gauche comments about his constiutuency to a journalist, including the remark: “Some areas around here are pretty primitive, people holding up their trousers with bits of twine and that sort of thing.”

His local paper says that the Tory MP’s put-downs:

… have been branded as arrogant and crass and the 37-year-old has since admitted he was ‘extremely foolish’. He said his remarks were merely meant to illustrate how some areas of the county were living in real poverty.

I have some, limited sympathy with Mr Stewart – I can understand the wish to exaggerate to make a point about northern rural poverty to a London-based metropolitan reporter. The “primitive” gaffe smacks of limited political media experience, I suspect, rather than a deliberate sneer.

However, his decision to invoke a real-life tragedy to illustrate his points with a colourful anecdote is undoubtedly tasteless:

I was in one village where a local kid was run over by a tractor. They took him to Carlisle but they couldn’t be bothered to wait at the hospital. So they put him in a darkened room for two weeks then said he was fine. But I’m not so sure he was.”

Today’s Mirror quotes the family in question:

Derek Daley, 76, whose son Noel died after his motorbike collided with a tractor, said: “I take great umbrage at what Mr Stewart has said. It is extremely distasteful.”