Voices: Lee Anderson has a Brown friend? I’ll be his Black friend for a fee…

Lee Anderson, Reform UK’s candidate for Ashfield, has referred to the upcoming general election as ‘The Immigration Election’  (PA)
Lee Anderson, Reform UK’s candidate for Ashfield, has referred to the upcoming general election as ‘The Immigration Election’ (PA)

Lee Anderson, the former Tory deputy chairman and now a Reform UK parliamentary candidate, has never been one to shy away from a controversial comment.

If you don’t like one opinion – plangent support for the death penalty (“100 per cent success rate”), or that “nuisance tenants” should be forced to live in a field in tents and pick potatoes – he’s got plenty of others.

He earned the glorious nickname “30p Lee” after claiming that healthy and nutritious meals could be made for this amazingly low price, proving that there was, in fact, no need for food banks and that people who use them simply “cannot cook properly”.

It was Anderson’s anti-Muslim comments about Sadiq Khan that led to his suspension from the Conservative Party. He claimed “Islamists” had “got control” of the London mayor as well as the city (“He’s given our capital away to his mates…”).

Like every other playground bully, he just doesn’t seem to learn. Nor does he seem to have anyone in his life who loves him enough to remove the phone from his hands and order him outside to touch grass.

So, what now? He has sparked a heated spat on X (formerly Twitter) by declaring the upcoming general election as “The Immigration Election”, illustrated by a picture of Anderson with his arm around a man of south Asian heritage.

Things took a turn when former Big Brother contestant Narinder Kaur commented: “Look at me, I’m not a racist, I have brown friends.”

Anderson, not known for his calm disposition, reacted by saying: “What a wicked thing to say. Only a racist would mention the colour of a person’s skin in this context. You are a pathetic attention seeker.”

But then, in a coup de grace, he posted four photos, adding: “More pictures of me and my brown friend.” The word “problematic” barely begins to cover it.

Each of the four snapshots told a little story. In the first, Anderson’s unnamed Brown friend had his eyes closed, and his feet positioned as though he had just clicked his heels together three times, Dorothy from Kansas style. The next showed Lee sitting next to his Brown friend in a pub. Unlike the others in the photo, the Brown friend is the only one who didn’t have a drink, indicating he may possibly be Muslim, an Uber driver or, perhaps somehow worse, both.

(As an aside, I have never understood why Britain, a nation of proud alcoholics, is so hostile to a group of people who don’t drink. We need designated drivers. Perhaps the DWP should station recruitment officers on the beaches around Dover to sign up the new arrivals.)

A third photo is of Lee and his Brown friend in a car together, which backs up my theory about him possibly being an Uber driver.

More immediately concerning is the selfie of a grinning Anderson with his Brown friend in a hospital bed, a tube attached to his nose, his right thumb weakly held aloft. His eyes may or may not be saying, “Help me…”.

Defensively posting four pictures of one man may not have been the flex that Anderson imagined it to be. Certainly, he attracted a lot of criticism for it – mockery, mostly – but I, for one, am not mad at him. He has inspired me to revive my old business idea.

It is a common reaction for people who are accused of racism to react along similar lines as Anderson, to run to their Black and Brown friends for support. My concern is for those who make this move and realise that they don’t, in fact, have any. What could be more embarrassing?

Which is where I come in – I can be that Black friend.

For a fee, I will splice pictures of us together. For a higher fee, I will meet you in person and take photos together, doing all sorts of fun activities that can be caught on camera for posterity. We could even sing “Ebony and Ivory” together on karaoke night down your local, if you like. It’s up to you.

I understand that I may be accused of selling out, and I am. I missed the public-school-to-right-wing-politician pipeline and fear that might have been a mistake. I’ve tried being a caring member of society, concerned with the future of the planet, and where has it got me? Nowhere. There really is no money in being a left-wing Corbynista and there is a cost of living crisis which appears to have no end in sight. I deserve nice things. Find me on social media.

I am available for weddings, funerals and children’s parties. How about it, Lee?