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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK

UK Politics

Black Tory defends Archer

Lord Archer: "Your head did not turn if a black woman passed"

Actress Patti Boulaye has defended London mayor hopeful Lord Archer following his controversial comments on the weight and dress-sense of black women.

Patti Boulaye: "It is a forward-looking statement"
Ms Boulaye, who hopes to be a Tory candidate for the new London Assembly, defended Lord Archer after he provoked outrage by claiming that prejudice is waning because black women are not as fat and badly dressed as they used to be.

[ image: Patti Boulaye:
Patti Boulaye: "Jeffrey Archer is not a racist"
His comments have outraged many in the black community and were described as "ill-judged" by Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram.

But Ms Boulaye said that Lord Archer's remarks were "a very forward-looking statement".

The actress and former pop star added that he had been making a valid point about how the position of black people in Britain had improved.

"Anyone who finds it offensive must be backward looking," she said.

'Badly dressed and over-weight'

Lord Archer's remarks came in an interview with Spectrum Radio's Jewish programme last week, but have only now been widely publicised.

Jeffrey Archer: "African-Caribbeans were not well-dressed 30 years ago"
He said: "If you look at particularly African-Caribbeans 30 years ago, they had the worst jobs, were not well dressed and they were eating the wrong food and you were very aware of it.

"Your head did not turn if a black woman passed because they were badly dressed, probably over-weight and probably had a lousy job.

"If you walk down London streets now there are the most staggeringly beautiful girls of every nationality. That is part of getting rid of prejudice."

'Remarks taken out of context'

Following the furore over his remarks, the millionaire novelist issued a statement saying his words had been taken "out of context".

[ image: Trevor Phillips: Accuses the Tory peer of bigotry]
Trevor Phillips: Accuses the Tory peer of bigotry
He said: "Anyone who heard my answer in full would have realised that I was highlighting the way we now recognise the huge contribution made by the ethnic population of London in a way that perhaps we didn't 30 years ago."

One of the hopefuls to become Labour's candidate for the mayoral contest, Trevor Phillips, was quick to attack the Tory peer.

He described Lord Archer's as having a "bigoted and stereotyped imagination".

Other race campaigners questioned why racism appeared to be acceptable in Lord Archer's view provided it was only extended to fat, poor women.

The presenter of the show added to the controversy, by describing his guest as "patronising in the extreme".

Archer 'would make good mayor'

Ms Boulaye, whose own reported comments on race caused a row earlier this year, said Lord Archer's remarks would be appreciated by older sections of the black community.

Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram: Lord Archer's comments "ill-judged"
"They worked very hard to get the next generation where they are," she said.

Ms Boulaye added: "I am talking as a black woman who knows Jeffrey Archer very well and he is not a racist.

"I think he would make a very good mayor."

In March there was uproar when The Express reported that Ms Boulaye had claimed that the murderers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence were probably Labour supporters.

The singer was also alleged to have claimed that in her experience Labour voters were four times as likely to be racist as Tories.

However, Ms Boulaye said that the article did not accurately reflect her views.

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