Earlier this week, Young Conservative Network executive Daniel Grainger prompted a backlash after posting a tweet describing Birmingham, as “a dump.” He was in the city for the Conservative Party Conference which began on Sunday.
Since then, Byline TV has come into possession of leaked WhatsApp messages where Grainger uses the ableist slur “retard”, a comment he says was made “about a policy, not a person”. Byline TV spoke with Grainger, who has now been suspended from the Conservative party pending an investigation, to discuss both the tweets and the Whatsapp messages.
Grainger distanced himself from the original tweet, which he says was the result of venting frustrations over a threat of mugging shortly after his arrival in the city. He describes the tweet as “ill conceived” and “needing further explanation”. He criticised the media’s handling of the controversy, saying “I think we’ve moved towards a sort of politics where people are out to get each other, I think we get a lot of gotcha journalism in the media. I’ve certainly been the victim of that this week. I was stunned that that had happened, that four words about a city in England could make me somehow a story.”
While he has distanced himself from the comment made in the tweet, in other tweets deleted in the wake of the backlash, he twice refers to Birmingham as “the worst city in the UK” on the seventh of April 2022 and the twenty sixth of June 2021. Grainger denies deleting the tweets.
Speaking to Byline TV, Grainger accused the media and other young Conservatives of attempting to “embarrass and humiliate” him, saying the leak can be “put to bed as people trying to make me look worse”. He says the slur referred to a policy rather than a person, and that he “makes no apology” for being firm in “rebuking” policy points he thinks are silly. He did go on to clarify that he regrets making the comments, though described how other young Conservatives often say and do things that can have a damaging impact on themselves and the image of the party as a whole.
He told Byline TV he felt compelled to speak out having faced a fierce, at oftentimes abusive, backlash and threats online after his original comments caught the attention of Labour MPs like Jess Phillips, the national press and the Conservative West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street who told Grainger to “leave Birmingham and take anyone with the same views with you.”
Responding to the backlash, Grainger said “I’m twenty-two. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes. I recognise that, and my mistakes are mine to own.”