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The Mercer Row Continues, Time For A Tory Anti-Racism Committee 10 March 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives.

The Patrick Mercer race row continues. As I said yesterday, the party is now getting flak from all sides.

The Independent is keeping with the racist accusations, quoting selectively and out of context, like the BBC did on the 10 o’Clock News. “Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP who said he had met a lot of “idle and useless” black soldiers when he was a serving officer, has insisted he is not racist,” they write today in a manner suggesting Mercer had labelled all soldiers as such.

 But Edward Pearce in The Guardian has proved a surprise ally to Mercer, but critic of Cameron. He rightly writes “I repeat the words of Mr Mercer’s black sergeant. ‘I have worked for him, eaten with him, shared the night sky with him and he is not a racist.’  That’s good enough for me, but clearly not for David Cameron. Mr Mercer is indeed not a racist, but out of cowardice and mediocrity of mind and spirit, David Cameron has sacked him. The thing speaks for itself.”

Some of Edward Pearce’s words are particularly harsh. He writes Cameron’s reaction as “Oh my God, the press will be after us. We mustn’t step out of line, mustn’t give offence, mustn’t reason a case through. Sack him at once. Won’t that be super PR?” Not good, not good at all.

Trial by media has struck again.

Hence my suggestion of a CCO Tory Anti-Racism Committee. It would be made up of top Conservatives from ethnic minorities, and would establish a procedure for when such allegations are about. Instead of the current system of defend then surrender and sack, accused racists would be suspended and accusations carefully investigated, allowing the media storm to go away with less damage, the truth to be found, with the correct action then taken.



1. martin - 10 March 2007

While I approve your objective, I’m not so sure about this idea. I’m afraid that there is a high degree of subjectivity in this sort of topic. Judging by all the on-line comment, the majority of the country thinks Mercer was at worst tactless but not racist. A minority disagree. Ultimately it is a matter of opinion.

Secondly setting up such a committee would amount to an admission that the Conservatives, unlike the other main parties, have a problem with racism. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot!

On a point of detail, the idea that only ethnic minority people are able to judge whether racism is present is wrong, patronising to them and insulting to the majority community. In a sense that, too, would be “racist”. And there’d be a danger that the posts would be filled from the professional grievance-mongers in the race industry. Far better to have a cross-section of sensible people including a few down to earth northerners. I’m not saying that there aren’t still problems with racism in society, but on the other hand there is a danger of people becoming over-sensitive and taking offence unnecessarily.


2. The Bicycling Chameleon - 10 March 2007

Martin, I agree with your point about only ethnic minorities being on such a committee, I simply feel this is sadly the only way to crush these kinds of allegations. If it were representative, the media would accuse the ‘whites’ of being racist and out voting the others. I don’t like selection on race – so called ‘possitive discrimination’ – but the idea behind the committee is to banish allegations, and only people from ethnic minorities can do that. All possitive discrimination in my view is wrong – being patronising and insulting, as you say – but in this case I’d accept it on the grounds of expertise (like appointing engineers to a committee on a big engineering project) and ability for their decision to be accepted. No grievance mongers need apply.

I don’t think it would be an admission of racism, although I see your point. It could reinforce the ‘change’ message? It could also however investigate other parties on the side, becoming a sort of respected authority. Would love to see the headline “Lib Dems are ‘Patronising Racists’ Says Tory Anti-Racism Group”.

As alleged racism has now changed, we need a group to draw the line and stop it going further before everything is being called racist. (see http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/danielhannan/mar2007/racismrow.htm and http://dizzythinks.blogspot.com/2007/03/patrick-mercer-quits-after-racist.html)

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