Heading into the 2021 Batley and Spen by-election, the Green Party of the United Kingdom initially put forward ‘rugby star’, Ross Peltier, who plays prop forward for Jamaica and the Doncaster Dons.
However, the party has immediately pulled his candidacy after dozens of Petlier’s tweets from 2010-2013 have surfaced, which included highly offensive homophobic and sexists remarks. Petlier was nineteen years old at the time of the tweets.
Initially he was regarded by the Greens as “a role model for so many”. However, the party acted quickly to pull his candidacy, saying to Yorkshire Live, the Green’s are “a party that champions the rights of LGBTIQA+ people…We do not feel it is right for Ross to be the party’s candidate for Batley and Spen by-election”
Peltier released an initial apology on Twitter which in part read:
“The language used is not acceptable or appropriate in any way, shape or form. In no way am I homophobic. I am sorry if my old tweets have caused harm or upset anybody”.
However, many viewed his apology as inadequate. Two days later, he posted a follow up statement on Twitter which in part read:
“I only ever wanted to help improve the area and lives of people in my community. If past tweets determine I’m not fit to do that then I have to accept that. I will continue to try better myself through education & working side by side with all people in my community.”
Petlier, then went on to explain that his apology was taken as “insincere because of how it was worded” and that he did not have a team of advisors to craft a proper apology.
Peltier has claimed to have reached out to a number of LGBTQ+ groups in hopes to better educate himself.
Some may dispute whether this was the right move by the Greens. Public opinion online has been mixed over Peltier’s pulled candidacy.
“Respect for standing as a candidate and for the way you’ve responded to withdrawing. People change and grow and should be praised for moving beyond past attitudes and rethinking what they stand for now.”
Global Green News reached out to Brown for further comment, and he said in an email:
“I have strong views about the importance of trying to persuade people to change their minds and rethink their ideas and that I will always try to defend anyone who genuinely rethinks their position and moves beyond their past mistakes. Just as I will obviously also continue to champion the interests of those who suffered because of unpleasant comments or actions.”
Brown however, made it clear that he is “not a spokesperson for the Green Party on this and is not a member of the Batley and Spen branch of the party.”
The Colne Valley Green Party, another branch of the party, showed support for Peltier on Twitter:
“Stay strong Ross. We need you in @TheGreenParty. We were all a bit naive in our youth. Your willingness to align yourself with our values of compassion and equality speaks volumes.”
The by-election was triggered when Labour MP ,Tracy Brabin, stood down after being elected West Yorkshire’s mayor. While the constituents of Batley and Spen are set to go to the polls on July 1st 2021, the Green Party is currently without a candidate and does not plan to elect a new one. The deadline to submit nomination papers have long passed on June 7th at 4PM, leaving the Green Party out of the race.