Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris has been suspended from the Conservative party after she was taped using the phrase “n****** in a woodpile” in a discussion about Brexit.
She is far from the first politician to get in trouble for using the exact same phrase in recent years, however, with a number of Conservatives using the racist slur in recent years.
1) Anne Marie Morris MP, 2017
The most recent culprit used the phrase at the private East India Club in London, and was taped doing so. The MP for Newton Abbott said that not getting a Brexit deal would be a “n****** in a woodpile”. She later she had not intended to use the phrase and apologised “for any offence caused”.
2) John Townend MP, 1993
In 1993 then Tory MP for Bridlington in Yorkshire John Townend used the phrase openly on the BBC’s Westminster Live programme on a Wednesday. 37 MPs signed an early day motion criticising his used of language. In 2001 Townend later accused Labour of wanting to turn the UK into a “mongrel race”.
3) George Gardiner MP, 1993
Another Tory MP immediately leapt to John Townend’s defence and used the phrase himself. George Gardiner, MP for Reigate, tabled an amendment to the critical early day motion arguing that he was “amazed that anyone could see the honourable Member for Bridlington’s choice of words as racist; and commends him for expressing himself in terms that ordinary people can understand”.
4) Lord Dixon-Smith, 2008
While David Cameron was Tory leader frontbencher and peer Lord Dixon-Smith used the phrase in the House of Lords chamber and apologised, saying he had “left my brains behind”. He added that the phrased had slipped out without thinking”.
5) Councillor Gerry Forsbrey, 2012
The second most recent known scandal over the phrase happened after Spelthorne Tory councillor Councillor Gerry Forsbrey said: “I don’t want to be the n***** in the woodpile”. He later said it was an “old fashioned phrase and that people may well take offence at the language”.
6) Councillor Robert Fraser, 2010
In May 2010 councillor Robert Fraser, a Conservative on Leicestershire County Council, used the phrase during an annual meeting of the Ratby & District Conservative Association at the Bulls Head Public House in Ratby, according to complaint documents from the council. The council found that he had brought it into disrepute.
7) Councillor Peter Edwards, 2014
Peter Edwards, a Tory councillor in Bath, used the phrased on BBC Radio Bristol’s drivetime show while talking about the Horseworld centre. The local politician said it was “not his intention to cause anyone any offence”.
8) Councillor David Viney, 2001
David Viney, a councillor from Plymouth and the Tory nominee for the city’s Lord Mayor, referred to himself as a “n***** in a woodpile” in a meeting with trade unions in April of that year, according to the local Plymouth Herald newspaper’s archive.
And one Labour…
The Conservatives aren’t the only party to have had their politicians use the phrase, though they seem to use it far more than anyone else. One Labour councillor in 2009, Ronnie Calvin, used it in Cumbria County Council’s offices in Kendal.
“I was tired and aching with a bad back after a long journey from Whitehaven. Somebody reported me and the county council has taken the moral high ground,” he told his local newspaper at the time.