Monday, August 21, 2017

Ruth Davidson, racism and the modern non-apology apology

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Politics Home reports on an extraordinary decision by the Scottish Conservatives:
A row has broken out after two Conservative councillors who were suspended over anti-Catholic and racist tweets were re-instated to the party. 
Alastair Majury and Robert Davies were disciplined shortly after being elected to Stirling Council in May. 
Mr Majury tweeted in 2012: "Why is the Catholic Church against birth control? Because they'll run out of children to molest." 
He also used the term "tarrier" - an offensive term for Catholics - in other posts on his Twitter page. 
Meanwhile, Mr Davies was suspended after a series of tweets he posted in 2013 below a picture of black people waiting to board a plane were unearthed. 
One read: "In the interests of security keep your loin cloths with you at all times. Spears go in the overhead locker."
Those who believed that the Scottish Conservatives under Ruth Davidson were pointing the wider party towards a Conservatism that is at ease with 21st-century Britain have been sorely disappointed.

It is hard to disagree with the worlds of the SNP MSP James Dornan, as quoted by Politics Home:
"She is keen to call out racism, sexism and other unacceptable behaviour, except when her own colleagues are the guilty ones."
I was also struck by the statement from a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives:
"Having served a suspension, both councillors have been readmitted to the party after offering unreserved apologies for any offence caused."
There you have it: the modern non-apology apology.

Majury and Davies have not apologised for sending their tweets - and sending them while councillors in particular - they have apologised for other people's reactions to them,

This "I am sorry if you feel X" formulation often carries with it the implication that you are being unreasonable in your reaction.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceBut the problem lies with Mafury and Davies and no one else. The Scottish Conservatives should not have readmitted them.


Hywel said...

The Lib Dems had a councillor who said that Hungarians and Romanians had criminality in their DNA. At first they thought they didn't need to take any action against him - his local party voted to take no action. Then when someone forced them to they said he wasn't racist and could stay in the party as long as he went on a racism awareness course - after a disciplinary hearing he didn't turn up to. If he apologised it was in similar terms.

So I don't really think anyone has a good record on such things.

Jonathan Calder said...

You are, of course, right that no one has a good record on such things.

But that is not a reason to ignore such blatant examples as this.

And I really did think Ruth Davidson might move the Conservatives forward.

Jane Chelliah said...

Well said Jonathan. Dealing with racism has become more about the racist rather than the impact on the victim. The Tory party is Numero Uno guilty of this.