http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai...AVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/03/08/nmercer108.xml A Conservative front-bencher who accused "idle and useless" ethnic minorities in the Army of using allegations of racism as a cover for their poor performance has been forced to stand down. Patrick MercerPatrick Mercer, the shadow homeland security minister and a former colonel, claimed that being subjected to slurs like "black bastard" and other racial abuse is common, and to be expected, in the Armed Forces. "I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours," the MP for Newark said of his time in the Army in an interview today with the Times. A Conservative spokesman initially said the remarks were a "private matter", but later in the afternoon David Cameron asked Mr Mercer to step down, describing his comments as "completely unacceptable". Mr Cameron has drawn fierce criticism for his party's sluggish response to the controversy. Sadiq Khan, a Labour MP, said: "Patrick Mercer's comments are deeply shocking and so is the initial response of Cameron's HQ. "Rather than dismissing it as a 'personal matter' David Cameron's Tory Party should have sacked him immediately. This shows that the Conservative Party has not changed."