Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Monday blog

9th February 2009 

America, Korea and Racism are on the agenda this week.

Firstly the so called’ special relationship’ between the UK and the US has been highlighted in a sickening press conference between Bill Clinton’s wife, Hilarious Clinton and David Milliband. She stared by referring to it as ‘a’ special relationship but took the hint when Milliband consistently called it ‘the’ special relationship. What is so special about it I hear both of you cry? Well the special part is that it is in no way reciprocal. We send troops all over the world fighting your war on terror and we get…well nothing really.

Over at the BBC’s green room, Carol Thatcher, daughter of tyrant, I mean former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is said to have likened a black tennis player to a gollywog. Gollywogs were dolls with black faces and frizzy hair that used to grace jam jars in the UK before they were removed due to their possible racist connotations. The BBC reacted to this by saying that they will not renew Carol Thatcher’s contract because of it. The argument made in her defence is that her use of that word was not intended to cause offence and Jonathon Ross’s comments in the Andrew Sachs debacle, where he and Russell Brand left obscene messages on the answer phone of a man known to may as Manuel, the Spanish waiter from the TV series Fawlty Towers, are just as bad yet he was suspended and returned, triumphantly some might say to TV recently. The BBC responded that Ross apologised but Thatcher has refused to apologise on the grounds that it was a private conversation. Highlighting the fact that she doesn’t appreciate how it could be taken as offensive and maybe even that people should be allowed to be racist in the privacy of their own homes, or BBC green rooms. 

Phillip Davies MP defended Thatcher saying that she hadn’t intended to cause offence but, like Thatcher, misses the point that it is not intent but insensitivity that has caused the problem. Political correctness has gone a little bit mad in this country but that doesn’t mean we should hark back to days when it was ok to define people by their skin colour, disability, ethnic origin or anything other than the sum total of their character. On a news program, he used the words ‘nigger’ and ‘spastic’ as examples of words that are used by some people and are not intended to cause offence, the use of the word ‘nigger’ by Coolio for example is seen sometimes as term of endearment in the black community. The news anchor then told the MP that people would call and complain that he used the word 'nigger' on TV, that is how offensive it is. The MP rightly said that if they are offended by a word used in a rational debate that is their problem. Very much like the people who hounded a university professor in The USA when he used the word ‘niggardly’. He had to resign over it ultimately. 

For me, the problem is when he says Carol Thatcher didn’t mean to cause offence. She used the term gollywog to describe a black tennis player. Carol Thatcher should be aware that such comments may well be seen as racist but at the very least they are inappropriate and in very poor taste. Using someone’s skin colour to define them is fundamentally what racism is and we, as a society are much more intolerant to racism than we are to verbally abusing pensioners.

It seems that a big part of the debate is whether the BBC's green room is a public or a private space. Personally I don’t think it matters. Is it ok to be a racist in the privacy of your own home? I suspect, suspected terrorists (suspected does not mean guilty) are routinely monitored in the sanctity of their own homes, paedophiles are regularly outed by newspapers but people who use racist terms in private are to be protected? Carol Thatcher made a mistake but one that is unforgivable in the sense that she should not be given her job back at the BBC.

British Jobs For British Workers?

Strikes have been conducted this week in order to save the jobs of British workers who are under threat by an Italian company who want to come to Britain but bring their own employees with them. G Brown borrowed a slogan from the BNP in response to this but is it fair to demand British jobs for British workers? 

I am lucky to have a job in another country and harbour many ambitions to live in lots of European countries, least of all the UK and so if all countries started shutting up shop I would have to rethink my future. It is very important to support our own economy but where do you draw the line? We are living in a global economy and maybe it is time to start thinking about it in global terms. If you have a British passport should you get a job over someone who doesn’t, regardless of any other factors? If you are lazy, complaining bastard, should you have the right to have a job on you doorstep? If I was an employer I would want the best man or woman for the job, regardless of what passport they held and I would be mightily pissed off if I was told I had to hire someone who was unsuitable just because they ticked a box.

This is a tricky topic but I have to say that I think the best man or woman for the job would get my vote. A disgusting, slimy side note to this debate is that it has stirred up the BNP from under their rocks and they are using this unrest to spread their poison throughout the disgruntled workers. I just hope that common decency will prevail, even if the Italians do get the jobs.

6 Nations Rugby

Wales comfortably swept Scotland aside on this opening weekend of the 6 nations rugby tournament. The Scots looked doomed from the moment the first of two of their players knocked themselves unconscious whilst trying to tackle Welsh players. 26-13 it ended and we didn’t get out of first gear.


44's Video address thing

“We can’t ignore what has happened in the past blah blah blah” but president 44 didn’t really offer much in the way of answers. He sounds more like the leader of a coalition government when he talks about democrats and republicans coming together to find American answers to American problems.

So far Number 44 hasn’t really done anything but he is talking a lot, trying to buy time. I understand it must take time to get some of these grand schemes of the ground and to rescue the worlds biggest economy but I still stand by my previous comment that a weekly video is too frequent. He did say thank you at the end though, which was nice.

And finally

 For a recent work experience placement in Cardiff I bought a weekly ticket for the train in order to save some money. I purchased the ticket on the Monday morning of the first day from the less than pleasant woman at the ticket office. She knew where I was going as I had to specify the journey and she took my money after complaining that my passport photo was too small. I paid and she gave me the pass. Straight away I asked her when the next train to Cardiff was, knowing full well it was in around 10 minutes. “It’s been cancelled” she matter of factly said. “So knowing full well where I wanted to go you sold me the pass and even complained about the size of the photo!” I wanted to say. Instead I looked at her with a look of disbelief that failed to have any effect on her. “You are joking I hope” I sad, but she wasn’t. She offered to refund the pass mere minutes after we had gone through the process, which was more painful than I had imagined. Then I asked a stupid question “I don’t suppose you have any information about bus times?” “No”, “Do you at least have a phone book I can borrow?” After phoning and finding out there was a bus leaving from the town centre, 5 minutes away I trudged there with a girl who also didn’t have the luxury of arriving in Cardiff when it suited the train company. £5.10 and almost an hour later I arrived. I filled in a compensation claim and today received 3 rail travel vouchers totaling £5.10. The money I spent was for my dinner that day and so I am a bit put out by the fact they have given me vouchers for rail travel, not costing them anything. And considering I am leaving on a plane very soon I may well have no use for them at all. Both expensive and unreliable, making rail travel in the UK utterly useless. 

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