Sunday, March 11, 2007

I'm not racist, some of my best friends are black bastards

I don't believe for a second that Patrick Mercer, the recently deposed shadow homeland security spokesman, is a closet member of the BNP or a devotee of Enoch Powell. What he is is a prime candidate for Upper Class Twit of the Year - a prize currently hotly contested by the Tory front bench. Predictably, a number of Tories have jumped to his defence, claiming that he's been sacked for telling the truth. The chair of his constituency association was wheeled out to announce that she was angry

'David Cameron has behaved precipitously. It's grossly unfair to take one remark out of context.'

Ken Clarke clearly hasn't read the interview

'There's nothing that Patrick said actually that was remotely offensive'

Cameron was exactly right to sack him and Mercer was offensive in some of the attitude he showed. Not for telling us that the canteen culture in the military doesn't like 'different,' but for sheer naivete and base ignorance. As Desmond Swayne put it

'What he did was create the impression that racism is somehow acceptable. It is always and everywhere a poison.'
As a leading example of the ignorance:

a chap with red hair, for example, would also get a hard time - a far harder time than a black man, in fact.
Yes, because I'm sure my friends can recall the 'No Blacks, No Dogs, No Gingers' signs in the boarding house windows in London and Birmingham. We're coming up to the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, but I've yet to see much in the way of redheads enslaved. Apartheid wasn't all that much to do with hair colour, as I recall. That's before we even get on to the known attitudes towards black soldiers. The statement runs entirely counter to reality and demonstrates just how far out of touch some Tories are with society and ordinary people.

I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours
When later questioned in a BBC Radio interview, Mercer could only raise two examples of this.

Nirpal Dhaliwal writes about his own father's experience as a soldier in the early 70s and the destructive effect of such casual bullying

He will never forget his commanding officer calling him a 'black bastard' in front of the entire platoon. My dad had mistakenly stepped on a trailer while trying to climb into the back of a lorry. 'I was gutted,' he told me. 'I expected to hear that sort of thing from the regular soldiers, but not from an officer.' The officer had grossly insulted him and legitimised such insults among the men my father had to serve with.
Sunny over at Pickled Politics adds
My brother was an officer in the British Army until recently. He once told me the trick when marching, doing exercises or simply following orders was to be ‘the grey man’, i.e. blending into the background in the hope no one noticed your mistakes. Except if you were brown or black you stood out like a sore thumb and every mistake was remembered the next time. My brother also has a full beard and turban so blending in wasn’t so easy.

From his experience as an officer, Mercer should have understood the importance of leadership and rather than believing that men like Pvt Johnson Beharry VC should just accept being called a black bastard as one of life's trials, he should be demanding change and standing up for what is right. That's why Patrick Mercer deserved his sacking and, whisper it quietly, I think Cameron was right.

Juvenal applies his wit to the subject.

I never came across a piece of nastiness inside the Conservative Party that wasn’t based exclusively on Conservatism.


Lord Saxondale said...

Personally, I have no interest in the annual game of race politics used by the Labour Party to bolster their failing local election campaign. Gordon kicked it off last week with his speech on immigration, swiftly followed by John Reid.

No doubt in the next few weeks we see and hear more stuff designed to out BNP the BNP. Maybe Margaret Hodge can be persuaded to make a return performance. The BNP will poll well as a result and then people like you wring your hands and tut in disgust.

Of course, the Islamophobia that pervades some in the Birmingham Labour Party never gets a mention does it?

I know paid-up members of the Labour Party who, if their views were made known to the public, would make Nick Griffin seem moderate.

So....physician heal thy self.

PoliticalHack said...

There are racists in every party - even within the ranks of the Tories and Liberal Democrats - much as we would wish otherwise.

Funnily enough, I don't speak for the Birmingham Labour Party, let alone individual members. All I know is that my friends in the party wouldn't tolerate it.