A former BBC TV and radio presenter has apologized for and withdrawn a controversial remark made about Liz Truss’ new government, referring to what is the most diverse administration in British history as the “coconut cabinet.”
Iain Macwhirter published his tweet on Wednesday afternoon before swiftly deleting the racist remark.
The term “coconut” is often used to accuse someone of betraying their Black or ethnic minority heritage by pandering to White opinion, just as a coconut is brown on the outside but white in the middle.
He had been responding to an initial tweet referring to the cultural diversity now evident in the British government, particularly in the “great offices of state” after the new Prime Minister Liz Truss appointed Kwasi Kwarteng, James Cleverly, and Suella Braverman to the roles of chancellor, foreign secretary, and home secretary, respectively.
It is the first time in British history that none of the four great offices of state have been occupied by a White man, a fact Macwhiter’s previous employer, the BBC, has reveled in broadcasting.
On Wednesday evening, Macwhirter issued a grovelling apology on his social media platforms, claiming to have made the reference “ironically.”
“After I posted it, I realized this joke might give offense and deleted it. It was unacceptable language, wide open to misinterpretation, and I am sincerely sorry for the distress I have caused,” he wrote.
Macwhirter claimed to have “repeatedly applauded” the Conservatives for appointing the “most diverse cabinet in British history,” and praised the Truss cabinet for making “the Scottish Government look hideously white.”
He expressed his dismay that his “cack-handed attempt at humor” may have given the impression that he hasn’t always “championed racial diversity.”
The Herald newspaper in Scotland, for whom Macwhirter often works as a freelance contributor, confirmed on Wednesday evening that due to the “offensive tweet” and despite the subsequent apology, the paper had “suspended his columns while we investigate further.”