Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Hugh Grant heckled while campaigning for Labour

The actor is an advocate of tactical voting to prevent a Conservative majority at the election

Hugh Grant has been campaigning in London (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Hugh Grant has been campaigning in London (David Mirzoeff/PA)

By Tom Pilgrim, PA

Actor Hugh Grant faced heckles from a small group of anti-racism protesters as he campaigned for the Labour Party in north-east London.

The Love Actually star faced questions on why he was supporting an allegedly “racist” party as he canvassed alongside Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen in the Chingford and Woodford Green constituency on Wednesday night.

Grant, an advocate of tactical voting to prevent a Conservative majority at the election, has previously campaigned alongside Liberal Democrat and independent candidates in other marginal seats.

In recent comments made to the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, Grant accused the Labour leadership of not doing “anything like nearly enough” to remove the “anti-Semitic element” within the party.

Everywhere in the country where a Tory can be beaten, he has to be beaten. And there is in different constituencies, different contenders. Hugh Grant

The actor was met by cheering crowds as he joined Ms Shaheen on the campaign trail in the outer London suburb, but was twice confronted by the small band of protesters.

While delivering an outdoor speech to a crowd of dozens of Labour supporters, Grant was asked if local Jewish residents should vote for the party.

In response Ms Shaheen said she and the party were “very sorry” about “mistakes” made over the speed of responding to complaints of anti-Semitism.

She added: “I am being subject to Islamophobia and it’s been really upsetting actually being a woman of colour running here and being subject to the racism.”

Ms Shaheen urged local residents to back her so she could help address the “underlying causes of Brexit”.

She added: “We have to do something about those huge regional inequalities, we have to do something about the lack of investment in our NHS, in our schools, we have to do something to tackle the way in which we talk about immigration and the endless scapegoating.”

After his own speech, Grant was challenged by a man as he got into a nearby waiting car with Ms Shaheen.

The protester, 19-year-old Harry Saul Markham, who carried a placard bearing the message “Corbyn supported terrorists. Unfit to be PM”, repeatedly asked Grant why he was supporting a “racist” party.

Around three other individuals also held placards with critical messages of Labour, with all appearing again as Grant and Ms Shaheen gave further speeches at a second location in the constituency.

The Notting Hill actor urged people to vote tactically to ensure the Conservatives did not win the election.

He claimed a Tory victory would lead to the “catastrophe” of a no-deal Brexit that would cause unemployment, an end to manufacturing, the end of peace in Northern Ireland and food shortages.

“Everywhere in the country where a Tory can be beaten, he has to be beaten. And there is in different constituencies, different contenders,” Grant said.

The actor revealed he would be voting for the Liberal Democrats in his own constituency as they are the nearest challengers to the Conservatives.

Grant avoided commenting when asked if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would make a good prime minister, and said a hung parliament would be his “dream result” and that he wanted a second Brexit referendum.

Brexiteer and local Conservative candidate Iain Duncan Smith, who represented the Chingford and Woodford Green area for 27 years, was described as “ghastly” by the actor.

He said Ms Shaheen stood a “fantastic chance” of beating her Tory rival, with a potential victory being a “marvellous Michael Portillo moment”.

Grant described the area as a “noisy, feisty and quite fun place to do some canvassing”.

Asked about how the public responded to famous faces joining political campaigns, he said: “I can see why it’s annoying and I used to find it annoying myself. I just happen to think this really is a proper emergency and I couldn’t really sit still.

“I don’t think I deserve more of a voice than anyone else, but I don’t think I deserve less. I’ve lived here all my life, I’ve paid my taxes like a good boy, I don’t really see why I should be silent.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph