MP Sir Desmond Swayne wearing blackface as James Brown was ‘just a bit of fun’, agrees the legendary soul singer’s daughter
- Sir Desmond Swayne wore ‘blackface’ to a party in Hampshire seven years ago
- Swayne admitted it when defending Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- Trudeau has himself been in ‘blackface’ storm after old pictures of him surfaced
- Deanna Brown Thomas said James would not have been insulted by MP’s actions
- Mrs Brown Thomas said: ‘He would have been understanding about the costume’
Published: 01:49 BST, 3 October 2019 | Updated: 08:36 BST, 3 October 2019
A Tory MP who ‘blacked up’ to go to a party as James Brown has been defended – by the soul singer’s daughter.
Deanna Brown Thomas, 50, said her late father would not have been insulted by Desmond Swayne’s actions.
The MP admitted to wearing ‘blackface’ while mounting a defence of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who is himself in a blackface storm.
Deanna Brown Thomas, 50, said her late father would not have been insulted by Desmond Swayne’s actions. The Tory MP wore the costume to a Blues Brothers party in Hampshire seven years ago (pictured with his wife)
But Deanna Brown Thomas (left), 50, said her late father would not have been insulted by Desmond Swayne’s (right) actions
‘I understand the hurt that some people may feel because of the history of blackface,’ said Mrs Brown Thomas.
‘But I do not believe my father would be offended. He would have been understanding about the costume.’
She also told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I look at it as going to a Halloween party.
‘If it’s a themed party, you dress up in the theme. He chose my dad. I can’t say he made a bad choice. He’s probably a big fan.’
‘I understand the hurt that some people may feel because of the history of blackface,’ said Mrs Brown Thomas. ‘But I do not believe my father (pictured at a party in New York with his daughter and wife Adrienne in 1991) would be offended. He would have been understanding about the costume’
Sir Desmond wore the costume to a Blues Brothers party in Hampshire seven years ago.
The 63-year-old MP for New Forest West has repeatedly said he has no regrets for what he has described as an ‘entirely acceptable bit of fun’.
Sir Desmond made a blog post in defence of Mr Trudeau after pictures surfaced of the Canadian leader wearing a costume for an Arabian Nights fancy-dress party.
The MP (left) admitted to wearing ‘blackface’ while mounting a defence of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who is himself in a blackface storm (right, as Aladdin)
Mr Trudeau, 47, apologised over the pictures last week, saying: ‘I should have known better then, but I didn’t and I did it and I’m deeply sorry.’
Sir Desmond was less apologetic, saying on his blog: ‘It was a themed Arabian Nights fancy dress party for heaven’s sake!’
The Swayne blackface row as it unfolded:
Friday, September 27: Desmond Swayne MP posts on his blog to tell people he dressed as James Brown as part of a column on the row surrounding Justin Trudeau.
The same day, he is asked whether or not any pictures exist and tells the MailOnline ‘unfortunately not’.
Sunday, September 30: Telegraph journalist presents the Tory with a picture sent to the paper.
He acknowledges that his wife is in the picture, and says he can’t deny that he is next to her.
He explained the scenario when he dressed as James Brown, saying he ‘went to some trouble to be as authentic as possible’ in order to look like the legendary singer.
He said: ‘No one’s complained to me about it. The reason I wouldn’t do it again is because you have to go to some trouble to get it off. It’s not a non-trivial exercise.’
The former Army major said he would not apologise and did not understand why white people wearing blackface could be seen as deeply offensive.
Sir Desmond, who was an MP at the time of the incident, has now said he is ‘very relieved’ after hearing Mrs Brown Thomas’s comments over the incident.
He maintained: ‘It was never my intention to give offence’.
Sir Desmond was appointed David Cameron’s principal private secretary in 2004 to help to drive through Tory party modernisation.
His costume choice has since prompted mixed opinion among the Conservative Party.