More flack over Tory Richard Willis’s pro-Ian Smith comments (UPDATED 2)


A Tory councillor came under fire tonight for praising former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith as a “great and wise” leader.

Richard Willis – a member of Reading Borough Council and aide to local MP Rob Wilson – insisted Mr Smith’s white minority government had been “benign and successful”.

The death of 88-year-old Mr Smith, who was regarded by many as a white supremacist, was announced yesterday.

In spite of international sanctions and opprobrium, he held power for 14 years after illegally declaring independence from Britain in the 1960s…

In comments added to the website, Mr Willis defended Mr Smith’s record and insisted there was nothing “inherently evil” about the all-white administration.

(The Voice previously reported on this story here).

UPDATE: The story has now hit the Sunday Times too:

David Cameron urged to sack councillor for lauding Ian Smith

DAVID CAMERON has come under pressure to sack a Tory who praised the leadership of Ian Smith, the white minority leader of Rhodesia, who died last week.

Richard Willis, a councillor in Reading, Berkshire, who is on the list of Conservative candidates for the next general election, said on a website that Smith had been a “great and wise” leader whose rule had been “benign and successful”.

The comments by Willis, who is chief of staff for local MP Rob Wilson, follow the departure of another Tory candidate after he made comments about race.

Nigel Hastilow quit earlier this month as candidate for Halesowen & Rowley Regis, West Midlands, after he claimed that many in his constituency believed “Enoch [Powell] was right” in his 1968 “rivers of blood” speech warning about immigration.

UPDATE 2: The Reading Post has now run the story too:

A TORY councillor is facing  calls to resign this morning after praising white minority ruler Ian Smith, the  former prime minister of Rhodesia.

Richard Willis, a Peppard ward councillor and chief of staff for Reading East MP Rob Wilson, has come under fire after describing the white supremacist as a “great and wise leader” whose controversial government had been “benign and successful” …

Giles Beaumont, from the Conservative Party central office, said today it would not be willing to comment as it was “a local issue”.

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  • Rob Blackie 23rd Nov '07 - 3:09pm

    Err the deaths of 40,000 people in a horrible war strikes me as pretty evil.

  • Is this the same Richard Willis who used to be Tory PPC for Sutton and Cheam?

  • > Is this the same Richard Willis who used to be Tory PPC for Sutton and Cheam?

    Oh yes.

  • He is currently a Tory councillor in reading and works as the Parliamentary Assistant to Robert Wilson the Tory MP for Reading East.

  • Media Monitor 25th Nov '07 - 12:13am
  • Another Tory cllr loves white supremacy too:

    One man who is standing by Mr Willis is Cllr Pugh, who said: “I can’t see anything in what he has said that you can disagree with.
    “I support his views and I think talk of him being sacked is nonsense. I visited Rhodesia in 1977, so I know what it was really like.
    “It wasn’t a racist regime, despite what everyone thinks.”

    The Mapledurham ward councillor, a known admirer of Mr Smith, was seen wearing a green and white Rhodesia tie at a Waterways and Open Spaces Forum meeting last Wednesday.

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