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A Lesson In Language And Modern Politics For Patrick Mercer 9 March 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives.

Colonel Patrick Mercer OBE MP is a racist, according to the entirely white Anglo-Saxon Liberal Democrat MPs. He is however not racist according to the soldiers from ethnic minorities who served with him. Funny old World isn’t it?

What Patrick Mercer said was totally wrong for a few reasons. It seemed to suggest he accepted racism in the Army, and was simply too blunt for the twisted World of spin. It also hurt the politically correct brigade that ethnic minority soldiers in the Army simply take it on the chin, shrugging it off, rather than boosting the human rights industry. It also hurt them that people may use claims of racism as an excuse, and that there are other forms of abuse as well. His quote in full;

“I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours. I remember one guy from St Anne’s (Nottingham) who was constantly absent and who had a lot of girlfriends. When he came back one day I asked him why, and he would say, ‘I was racially abused.’ And we’d say: ‘No you weren’t, you were off with your girlfriends again.’ I had the good fortune to command a battalion that was racially very mixed. Towards the end, I had five company sergeant majors who were all black. They were without exception UK-born, Nottingham-born men who were English – as English as you and me. They prospered inside my regiment, but if you’d said to them, ‘Have you ever been called a nigger,’ they would have said, ‘Yes.’ But equally, a chap with red hair, for example, would also get a hard time – a far harder time than a black man, in fact. But that’s the way it is in the Army. If someone is slow on the assault course, you’d get people shouting: ‘Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard.'”

I am incredibly proud of our Armed Forces. The British Army says “be the best”, and they are the best, whatever colour – what does that matter? Under the Union flag, in the uniform of our Army, in service of HM The Queen, nothing else matters. This blog wishes them all the very best.

I’m fairly certain he isn’t racist, but I do think he needs to be more careful what he says. An Army career has made him a straight talker, something open to twisting.

The resignation/sacking of Mercer was a tough call. He is not a racist, evidence proves it, but the media was going to flame him with racism regardless. Eventually CCO – which backed him for 4 hours until the media frenzy won through – and Mercer had to give in, and he returned to the backbenches. It was spun as a sacking, to enforce the change message. Then Mercer was backed by his former soldiers. The result, bad PR for the Conservatives from all sides. The anti-Tories will say “same old Tories” while the anti-Camerons will say “he gave in to trial by media and sacked a good man”.

Whatever, one bit of advice to MPs. Don’t say anything about race, ever. And anyway, wouldn’t a racist keep quiet about his/her feelings, knowing the damage they could do?



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