Forest MP Sir Desmond Swayne: why is blackface racist?

New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne

NEW Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne has questioned why it is offensive for a white person to ‘black up’.


Appearing on the Telegraph’s Chopper podcast, Sir Desmond said he was “disappointed” at outrage over a photograph which surfaced last year showing him dressed up as the late singer James Brown at a party some years ago.

Stressing he would not go in blackface again, Sir Desmond lamented that “one has to take great precaution” going to a party “in these woke times”.

Desmond Swayne
Sir Desmond Swayne dressed up as James Brown (Photo: The Telegraph)

He added: “Why is it offensive? Now my children tell me, ‘Dad, of course it is offensive, of course you can’t do that.’

“But why? Are you saying a black man can’t get into a fancy dress party as a white man? That we must stay in our racial silos? That we can’t interchange?”

Sir Desmond continued: “There is not a racist bone in my body. But I can’t see why we have got to this stage where there are things that you can’t touch and can’t go to.”

Cllr Jack Davies, who stood against him for the Liberal Democrats in the 2019 general election, responded: “The Conservative MP thinks blacking up is a joke and won’t apologise. That’s unsurprising. The man is a constant embarrassment.”

Sir Desmond did not respond to the A&T’s request for comment.



  1. The ignorance of this man’s comments and behavior are well out of step with the public expectation of an elected member. However, perhaps he plays to his local electorate? Begs the question – does the new forest have a problem with race?

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