Tory frontbencher (and former army officer) Patrick Mercer has lost his job for Saying Bad Things, such as:
“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 came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours.”
So he’s been forced to resign. Not for being a racist, not for condoning racism, and not apparently even for downplaying the seriousness of racism – but for appearing to downplay the seriousness of racism. More PR than PC, methinks.
But what is it with the Conservatives and race?
Desmond Swayne MP, who as David Cameron’s hand-picked Parliamentary Private Secretary should surely be the pinnacle of new Tory right-on-ness, was challenged on Newsnight yesterday to name a single black Tory frontbencher. He breezily shot back: “Shailesh Vara.”
Shailesh Vara is Asian, not black. Now I’m not suggesting that Swayne has succumbed to a ‘they all look the same’ attitude to people of darker skin, but such a basic distinction between ethnic groups is surely not hard to get the hang of if you’re serious about anti-racism, is it?
More importantly, if the Tory shadow cabinet is no place for people with dodgy prejudices, what is Liam ‘three dogs and a black bird’ Fox still doing there?
They’ve still a way to go. Come on, you Tory bastards!