DEFEATED Lib Dem candidate Dominic Carman has been accused of ‘taking sour grapes to the extreme’ after accusing the town of Barnsley of being full of narrow minded, anti-gay and racist attitudes.
Mr Carman, who saw the Lib Dems crash to a lowly sixth place in last week’s Barnsley Central by-election, made a string of critical comments about the town in a national newspaper article.
He said people repeatedly harked back to the miners’ strike more than 25 years ago, called anyone from outside the town a ‘foreigner’, and claimed some residents had never even travelled as far afield as Sheffield.
“Barnsley is 98 per cent white. Diversity and difference are not welcome here. Local sentiment is summarised by one man who tells me, ‘No-one is gay in Barnsley. If they are, they leave’,” Mr Carman wrote.
He recalled that a white man who had moved recently to the town with his black partner told him that whenever the two of them went into local pubs, people openly called his partner racist names and no-one said a word to stop it.
Mr Carman added several people had called winning candidate Dan Jarvis a ‘scab’ – because he came from Nottingham where miners had refused to strike.
Town council leader Steve Houghton said the comments were ‘astonishing’.
“I would refute all his allegations. Barnsley is just not like that at all. All the candidates were welcomed here,” he said.
“Dan Jarvis was taken to the hearts of voters – nobody has more respect than someone from the military. This is taking sour grapes to the extreme.”
Coun Houghton said: “Mr Carman should apologise to the people of Barnsley. The Liberal Democrats should throw him out immediately.”
A party spokesman said the article was a personal account by the candidate of what had happened to him over a short space of time.
He said: “Dominic stands by that account of the experiences he had in Barnsley.”