Embarrassed Southwark Labour councillors offer apology for ‘cheap’ jibes towards rival

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Two Labour councillors have apologised to Southwark’s Liberal Democrat leader after one made comments about his sexuality and another made a jibe about his hair.

Chloe Tomlinson, councillor for Rye Lane ward, and Richard Livingstone, councillor for Old Kent Road, have said sorry privately to Cllr Victor Chamberlain following their remarks to him at a council meeting last Wednesday.

During her speech at the meeting last week, Cllr Tomlinson, who is LGBTQ+ herself and in a same-sex relationship, accused Cllr Chamberlain of ‘using his LGBT identity for political point scoring’.

She also said that he needed a ‘better understanding of equalities’ if he thought being a ‘white gay man’ meant Southwark Liberal Democrats were ‘sufficiently diverse’.

Cllr Richard Livingstone meanwhile joked about the amount of money that Cllr Chamberlain spent on his hair while making remarks criticising  Liberal Democrat proposals to scrap a type of allowance that councillors receive.

Cllrs Richard Livingstone and Chloe Tomlinson (Pictures: Southwark council)

Cllr Tomlinson has also released a statement saying she was ‘sorry for any hurt or offence caused to Cllr Chamberlain’ and admitted that her point ‘could have been made differently’.

Her apology comes after Cllr Chamberlain, member for Borough and Bankside, released a statement last Thursday saying it was the first time he had been ‘personally attacked’ for being gay at a council meeting.

The statement, which didn’t name Cllr Tomlinson directly, added that it was a ‘sad reflection’ on local politics that ‘homophobia’ was considered ‘an acceptable form of political discourse in 2024’.

Rachel Bentley, Southwark’s deputy Liberal Democrat leader, said the apologies were ‘appreciated’ but meant ‘very little without a meaningful commitment to change’ from Labour councillors.

She said: “They don’t just owe this change to the Liberal Democrat opposition, but to everyone in Southwark. Anyone who watched the appalling conduct in last week’s meeting would have come away with little confidence in their local elected representatives. At a time where public confidence in politicians nationally is at rock-bottom, we must do better at a local level.”

Cllr Tomlinson said: “As a queer woman, in the course of a council debate, I sought to make a point about the importance of diversity in all its forms including class, gender and ethnicity. But I recognise that point could have been made differently.

“I’m sorry for any hurt or offence caused to Cllr Chamberlain, and have reached out to him personally.”

Pictured top: Councillor Victor Chamberlain, who was “deeply hurt” by some remarks made at a council meeting (Picture: Eve Milner)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.