Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let's all be nice to the wogs

What is it with South Cambridgeshire District Council? They seem to be lurching from one bigotry related crisis to the next.

This time Conservative Cllr Ted Pateman has shocked council officials with his ripe language. Doing his very best to welcome in this new fangled multi-culturalism he stated "There are all different sorts of wogs here [Cambridgeshire], I don't differentiate between them but treat them all as though they were English".

Good for you councillor, good for you. After all we're all English underneath aren't we?

However, the scandal comes on the back of not just Cllr Roberts bullying behaviour and anti-traveller bias but also an audit Commission report that stated "there is a clear perception amongst some stakeholders [us?] that some councillors' attitudes and behaviours are racist and discriminatory".

Pateman's slip of the tongue reflects something far deeper and nastier that's going on in the south of the county. I actually have some sympathy for Pateman who is simply at a loss to understand why his language is offensive.

He reacted by saying "The term is in the Oxford English Dictionary. It wasn't meant as a derogatory remark of any description, in fact I was emphasising that in Cambourne we have a mix of different nationalities but you don't notice.

"They're all equal, all English and you can see that when the kids go to school in the morning. In my Close of 42 houses, we have 11 different nationalities and they are all neighbours. There's no racism up here in Cambourne and I don't think there is very much in Cambridgeshire.

"I will write and offer my apologies if I've caused any annoyance to anyone."

There are lots of terms in the dictionary, like racist, bigoted, elitist, oligarchic, rural, inbred, bumkin, but we shouldn't throw them around before looking them up. My dictionary says of the word wog "Used as a disparaging term for a person of color, especially a person from northern Africa or western or southern Asia" so to claim the dictionary defines the word which makes it alright is, I think, a touch mistaken.

The fact is the good councillor, like so many of these rural Tories, is just out of his depth when confronted with the modern world. Even when trying to say something positive and worth while he can't but help muck it up.

I wont be calling for his poor old head, but the people of South Cambridgeshire need proper representation - and that will require sweeping out of office three quarters of the current incumbents who are simply fossilized lumps that modernity has passed by.


Sean said...

Tory blimps eh? Dontja just love 'em!

Matt said...

Councillors are a funny lot. I've met quite a number on my rounds and I'm still not sure what really motivates them, other than pandering to their local party power base.

Many councillors are retired or nearly there because they've made their money & have some spare time on their hands. This little conundrum leaves out the rest of us who need a living wage and may have families to feed & probably have little time for several meetings a week.

To widen the interest in councillor work from people of all ages and backgrounds I believe it's a sensible idea to pay councillors a proper wage. In return they are more accountable to their local community and should have the necessary skills.

Might then be able to eliminate the drift wood. 'Wogs' ... I mean, really.