Tory candidate claims 'nuisance tenants' should have to live in field and pick potatoes at 6am

Lee Anderson, the Conservative candidate in Ashfield, accused of 'targeting vulnerable people' after appearing to propose forced labour

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 19 November 2019 15:11 GMT
Tory MP candidate Lee Anderson says 'nuisance tenants' should be forced to live in fields and pick potatoes at 6am every morning

A Tory candidate in a key seat that the party hopes to win from Labour has said that "nuisance tenants" should be forced to live in tents in a field and pick potatoes at 6am.

Lee Anderson, the Conservative candidate in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, made the comments in a video posted on his Facebook campaign page on Sunday.

He also boasted of having lobbied the local council and police to have "nuisances" evicted from an estate.

Ashfield was won by Labour's Gloria de Piero in 2017 by a margin of just 441 votes. Ms de Piero is standing down and the seat is one of the Tories' top targets.

Rival parties accused Mr Anderson of "entrenching division" and "targeting vulnerable people" after the comments emerged, and claimed that he had showed "a lack of empathy towards those whom he aspires to represent".

In the video, Mr Anderson speaks directly to the camera, saying: "What I'm about to say is my own personal opinion, nobody's else's. I stood on this spot a few months ago banging on about nuisance tenants throughout this lovely estate and the fact they were making people's live a complete misery.

"I've been banging on to the council, banging on to the police, about getting these nuisances evicted, so hopefully in the next few days we might see something."

He continued: "People say to me 'But they've got to live somewhere'. That's right, so my plan would be - and again this is just my own personal opinion - that these people who 'have to have somewhere to live', let's have them in a tent in the middle of a field, six o'clock every morning let's have them up, let's have them in the field picking potatoes or any current seasonal vegetables, back in the tent, cold shower, lights out, six o'clock, same again the next day. That would be my solution."

The comments sparked an angry backlash.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrats education spokesperson, said: "Everyone in this country deserves a decent standard of living. Conservative candidate Lee Anderson’s comment exposes a concerning disregard for this basic human right, and a lack of empathy towards those whom he aspires to represent.

"As a Conservative parliamentary candidate in a marginal seat, Anderson should not be stoking and entrenching division, or targeting vulnerable people.

"Unfortunately, this sort of comment is all too common from Conservative Party candidates, who are out of touch with the constituencies and the people they are attempting to represent."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in