A black farmer who grew up in inner-city Birmingham has blamed racism for his failure to become an MP.
Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones says Liberal Democrat opponents highlighted his race by urging voters to choose a “local” candidate.
Mr Emmanuel-Jones, who claims to be Britain’s only black farmer, was born in Jamaica and came to Birmingham, aged four, with his parents.
Growing up in Small Heath – alongside 11 brothers and sisters – he struggled to fit in at school and left with no qualifications.
But as an adult he went on to buy a buy a farm in the West Country, and founded his own range of sausages and bacon.
Neighbours called him “the black farmer” – and this became the brand name for his products. But Mr Emmanuel-Jones was less successful when he was picked as Conservative candidate for Chippenham, Wiltshire, as part of Tory leader David Cameron’s drive to appoint more female and ethnic minority candidates to winnable seats.
Despite increasing the Conservative share of the vote, he failed to take the seat from the Liberal Democrats, who held on with a majority of 2,470.
Looking back at the campaign now, he claimed that his opponents had focused on his race as a tactic.
He said: “When I got selected, there was surprise and concern that the colour of my skin could be a handicap. This was not a safe seat, but a key Lib Dem-Conservative marginal, where colour could be exploited for political gain.
“My rivals well understood the poignancy the term ‘not local’ would have. They used it mercilessly despite their candidate also being an import – albeit white.”
He also claimed many constituents were concerned about immigration, but were reluctant to discuss the issue with him in case they caused offence.
He said: “During the election, my being black was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it meant I was highly visible, and a curse because the tag of not being local was obvious for people to see.”