COUNCIL WARNS STAFF ABOUT USING OFFENSIVE TERM 'BRITISH'
UNDER FIRE: Former MP Ron Davies
Wednesday November 12,2008
By Martin Evans Have your say(31)
A STORM erupted last night after a council warned staff about referring to people as being British – in case they found it offensive. Town hall bosses said that the term suggested a "false sense of unity" and could upset those from Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as members of ethnic minorities. The document warns about using the word "British" alongside other offensive terms such as "negro", "spastic" and "half-caste". The advice, presented to 9,000 staff at Caerphilly Council in South Wales, is contained in a training booklet about equality offering tips on communicating with the public.
Critics have blasted the idea as completely unacceptable. Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards said: "This is political correctness gone absolutely mad. It is utter nonsense to ban staff from using the word British. Lance Corporal Connick "I'm very proud to be Welsh and if anybody asks me where I'm from, I'll say Wales. But I'm also British and I've played for the British Lions and I'm very proud of that as well. I have no issue with being called British."
Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who was born in Caerphilly, said: "I am proud to call myself a British Welshman. "I just do not know what is going on with Caerphilly Council but guidelines like this are simply ludicrous. Since when was calling
someone British offensive? We are British, that is the simple fact of the matter and whatever is done to try to break us up we have survived. "Welsh soldiers, no matter what regiment they are in, are members of the British Army and they are very proud of that fact." Falklands hero Denzil Connick, 51, who lives within the council's jurisdiction, blasted the ban as "utter nonsense".
Lance Corporal Connick, who lost a leg in the conflict, said: "I always refer to myself as Welsh-British. I have my Welsh heritage but I am proud to be British. "It is utter nonsense to ban staff from using the word British."
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, said he could not understand what was to be gained from such an initiative. He added: "The term British is a unifying term not a divisive one and we ought to be promoting the idea of everybody feeling British rather than looking for reasons to drive us apart." Mr Davies said he thought that the council's "priority ought to be improving services and keeping council tax bills down".
The guide was compiled by the independent Valleys Race Equality Council directed by shamed former Caerphilly MP Ron Davies. The book said that "many Scots, Welsh and Irish resist being called British". It added that people from ethnic minorities should be called "British Asians" or "Chinese British".
Mr Davies, who resigned from his post as Secretary of State for Wales in 1998 after being mugged at a notorious gay cruising spot on Clapham Common, south London, defended the leaflet. "It's just for information, there's no advice or instruction," said Mr Davies, who is an Independent cabinet member on the council.
"Of this council's employees, 3,900 describe themselves as white British, whereas 5,400 describe themselves as white Welsh. So this information is very much in accordance with the way that people in Caerphilly identify themselves."
A council spokesman said: "We are committed to equality and we always try to ensure that everyone is treated equally, regardless of sex, race or religion." He added that the information in the guidebook was "not a direct instruction to staff about what phrases they can and cannot use in the workplace".
Thursday, 13 November 2008