Mal Sainsbury apologises for ‘horse whip’ Mayor remark


A Bristol Labour party member – featured in an article earlier this week – who remarked that she would like to take a “horse whip” to Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, has come forward with an apology for her choice of language.

Mal Sainsbury, the party member in question, had posted in the Bristol Labour Party Members Facebook page, asking others to bring a “metaphorical horse whip to lick our mayor and councillors into shape”.

This could always be perceived as a racially incendiary comment, only made worse when it was brought to the Sainsbury’s attention, only for her ignore the unintended connotation of taking a horse whip to a Black Mayor particularly given Bristol’s significant role as a port hub in the transatlantic slave trade.

Thankfully Sainsbury has since apologised for her choice of words, stating that her post touted “unintentional racial connotations” and that she has learned a “lesson in how language matters”.

Sainsbury also states that her Facebook post had been referencing to a 1909 incident wherein Winston Churchill had been whipped by a suffragette in Temple Meads Station. Her “horse whip” comment, Sainsbury maintains, were “intended to reference white patriarchal dominance over women”.

The matter at hand was not one of race, but one of gender and the hierarchical power that men hold over women.

However, the issue remained that the image that Sainsbury’s post had conjured – one reminiscent of Bristol’s dark and oppressive past – had been one of extremely poor tact at best. The issues of gender equality must continue to be championed and fought for, but of course not at the expense of ignoring racial disparities and sensitivities.

Operation Black Vote has spoken personally with Sainsbury, and agree that she is a formidable campaigner for social and gender equality, and that her intentions were not racially motivated. Sainsbury “deeply regrets any offence” she may have caused, and says that she is “extremely proud of electing Marvin Rees as our first black mayor and fully recognise and support the challenges” in his unique position as Bristol’s – and the United Kingdom’s – first black mayor.

Simon Woolley, of Operation Black Vote states that he is “pleased that Mal Sainsbury has acknowledged this and unreservedly apologised to Marvin and the wider black community”.

If nothing else, Sainsbury’s post serves as a reminder that harm can be done without malicious intent, and that individuals – especially those in privileged positions – should be conscious of their language.

Ayan Goran