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“Wherever this is”

The Shadow Europe minister, Pat Glass, has had a bad day. According to “Politics Home”:

A Labour MP has apologised after branding a voter a “horrible racist” while campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union.

Pat Glass, the Shadow Europe Minister, also said she was “never coming back” to Sawley in Derbyshire, after an exchange with a member of the public about immigration.

According to BBC Radio Derby, the unnamed voter had referred to a Polish family living in the town as “scroungers”.

Ms Glass told the station: “The very first person I come to was a horrible racist. I’m never coming back to wherever this is.”

Following criticism of her remarks, the MP said: “The comments I made were inappropriate and I regret them. Concerns about immigration are entirely valid and it’s important that politicians engage with them.

“I apologise to the people living in Sawley for any offence I have caused.”

The row has echoes of Gordon Brown infamously being caught during the 2010 election campaign branding Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman” after she challenged him on immigration from Eastern Europe.

Echoes of Gordon Brown’s encounter with Gillian Duffy it might have, but this was not a case of an “open mic”. Ms Glass did not have Gordon Brown’s excuse: like Emily Thornberry, she chose to say what she did to a mass audience. [Later edit: Commenter Cal has pointed out that accounts differ on that point. She may have thought the interview was over. But as Cal also says, it’s revealing that she felt free to express herself in those terms to BBC reporters.]

I would guess that the insult to Sawley, and by extension to all those places like Sawley that parliamentarians never visit except when a vote draws near, is a bigger vote loser than insulting one man. She made it clear that the stops on her campaign trail mean so little to her that she could not even be bothered to remember their names. Anyone who has been embarrassed by forgetting a name might have some sympathy with that, until Ms Glass compounds the offence by making it clear that she regards her presence in such a place as a privilege that can be withdrawn as a punishment.

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43 comments to “Wherever this is”

  • Cal

    It’s not clear whether she intended her remarks to be caught by the mic (the media reports so far don’t appear to know either). Hard to believe she’d be that stupid to be so up-front on radio.

    No-one’s going to believe her apology, though.

  • Jerry

    She may not have known if the mic was open but the arrogance displayed is so staggering that she may very well have not cared a bit !!
    By the way, ALWAYS assume that the mic ( your mic ) is open !!

  • Cal

    It’s revealing* that (and I’m assuming that she didn’t know the mic was open) she chose to speak to a BBC reporter/crew that way. She obviously felt that she was amongst like-minded people who had the same views and sympathies. She wouldn’t speak to a reporter from the Sun or the Daily Mail that way, would she?

    *Not revealing to me, or anyone else here, of course. But publically revealing.

  • Stonyground

    The apology comes across as being just absolutely laced with insincerity doesn’t it? Oh shit I’ve put my foot in my mouth, where is that script for what you have to say for damage limitation on these occasions? Oh yes, here it is:

    “The comments I made were inappropriate and I regret them. Concerns about [Insert subject] are entirely valid and it’s important that politicians engage with them.

    “I apologise to the people living in [Insert place name] for any offence I have caused.”

    There we go job done.

  • Stonyground

    The last time I looked, Polish people were pretty much the same racial profile as I am. Surely this person was Xenophobic rather than racist.

  • …and since when was xenophobia a bad thing?

    It’s one of the most basic of human instincts.

  • Apropos of Kim’s comment, there ought to be a suffix for “justified fear” with which to counter “-phobia”. I find myself increasingly irked by how legitimate concerns are so blithely brushed off in that fashion.

    Any suggestions?

  • Mr Ed

    Mastiff,

    A term, e.g. an ‘Islamorotherham’ would be offensive.

  • Andy

    English hating Labour Party.

    This should be pushed at every opportunity.

  • Julie near Chicago

    How about “Islamorealist”?

    (Yeah, I know. Good luck getting that one to fly.)

    Still, “Honi soît qui mal y pense,” or something.

  • Laird

    I agree with Mastiff’s comment: there should be such a suffix; clearly the English language has need of it. We also need one which denotes, not “fear” (whether rational or not), but mere dislike. If I don’t fear homosexuals, but simply dislike them, there should be a word for it other than “homophobia”. Any suggestions for either?

    And while we’re at it, how about a word to describe people (such as that idiot Pat Glass) who insist on labelling anyone opposed to some specific group as “racist” whether or not race has anything to do with it? Anti-Muslims aren’t “racists” because Islam is not a “race”. I’ve been considering “rascist” (a portmanteau of “racist” and “fascist”) but it looks too similar to the “racist” I’m trying to distinguish. (Although when spoken it does seem to work.) And of course “ignorant”, while certainly accurate, isn’t specific enough for my purposes. Thoughts?

  • Robert

    Laird said: “If I don’t fear homosexuals, but simply dislike them, there should be a word for it other than “homophobia”. Any suggestions for either?”

    There is already a word for people who dislike people solely for being homosexual, they are call “arseholes”, or if you are more loquacious “obnoxious arseholes”.

  • Snide

    There is already a word for people who dislike people solely for being homosexual, they are call “arseholes”, or if you are more loquacious “obnoxious arseholes”.

    Really? Why is that? Why do I have to like homosexuals? Am I allowed to dislike people who like having sex with corpses? Can I dislike people into scatsex? How about buggering goats? I would have thought being an “obnoxious arsehole” required me to take action, like griefing someone because of their favoured perversions, rather than just disliking them.

  • Paul Marks

    “Wherever this is” indeed.

    What an arrogant Euro.

    Canvassing without even knowing where the place is.

    As for “racist” – Poles are not a different race, they are the same race.

    The complaint was that a family of immigrants was getting government benefits.

    Instead of doing anything to end this the Euro just screamed “racist”.

  • Mr Ed

    Robert makes a distinction I find fascinating: ‘arseholes’ and ‘obnoxious arseholes’, which might imply that the former are not obnoxious, ergo in his defintion of Laird’s hypothetical, people who dislike homosexuals are not obnoxious if they are not sufficiently loquacious, even though they may be arseholes.

  • Mastiff, you could try words derived from scepticism. ‘Islamosceptic’ could mean: I don’t believe it’;s the religion of peace, I don’t think its followers will integrate swiftly or easily into the west, I don’t think western intellectuals who talk of islamophobia are honest or rational, etc..

    In the same way, a transceptic could be someone who does not believe that gender is purely a social construct.

    I offer the idea FWIW.

  • Alisa

    Is not liking people in general OK?

  • There is already a word for people who dislike people solely for being homosexual, they are call “arseholes”

    I do not take quite the same view as snide, but I do not see why a person’s habits are not a reasonable basis for disliking them, if you dislike those habits. The issue of loquaciousness is a fair one: harassing someone on the basis of their peccadilloes does indeed risk incurring “arsehole” status, but just disliking them on its own, on the basis of what they do?… hmmm… not so sure.

  • John Galt III

    Poles are a separate race?

    Probably Caucasian just like the voter proving the politician is too stupid to ably categorize
    complaints of his constituents, but then he belongs to the Marxist Party.

  • NickM

    Snide,

    You are free to like or dislike whoever you want. No authority can make you like gays, lesbians or whatever. They can force you to pretend to like them under penalty of law which is a bit like the difference between meeting the love of your life and having a forced marriage with a cousin you never met. Here lies the rub. Genuine social cohesion (bottom up!) is neither Spode nor the other Spode. It is me going to Sayeed’s corner shop for a bag of Midget Gems or Sports Mixture (and the pukka stuff – not Maynards) and some liquorice sticks and a Coke. Dear Gods! It comes to something when the only place withing walking distance of me that sells the proper sweeties of my youth is a Pakistani newsagent whereas the Co-op just down the road sells “ethical water” whatever the fuck that is.

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    At the same time, this is also a warning- microphones can be anywhere! Romney was undone by some casual comments picked up at a lunch, I think. If any of us have political ambitions, then start right now to always use the politically-correct terms for everything, all the time! And go back and edit any tapes of you in kindergarden- who knows what you might have said and done, back then. Loose lips sink careers, and all that.

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    Also, can anyone in America confirm for me the recent item that said that all the White House Press are Democrats? Or Democrat-voters? How’s that for bias?

  • Roue le Jour

    Niall Kilmartin,

    If Eurosceptic is a thing then Islamosceptic is perfectly reasonable.

    Your suggestion has my support, FWIW, which obviously isn’t much.

  • john malpas

    Whatever you want to say – will be unacceptable by next week. and a vile outrage by the week after.
    Then you get arrested.

  • Laird

    Well, others have already weighed in (somewhat) on this, but I’ll toss in my two cents anyway. The term “arsehole” (whether or not the modifier “obnoxious” is appended) is properly applied to people who descend to rude, ad hominem attacks on those who don’t share their prejudices, or their self-righteous, bien pensant attitudes. People such as Snide.

  • Mr Ed

    People such as Snide.

    Really? I didn’t see anything that Snide wrote in that vein, see supra.

  • @Mr Ed, I think he means Robert: Snide merely quoted Robert’s foolishness.

    @Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray, not ALL, 21% are registered Dem voters. Follow link and scroll down, most have Dem tendencies looking at the infographic e.g. 49% thought Trump had received most favourable press coverage!

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/2016-campaign-opinion-journalists-press-corps-reporters-survey-213844

  • David Bishop

    Ref Laird at 8:22pm, I agree that English seems to lack a suffix (or prefix) to indicate dislike, which is most assuredly not the same as fear (phobia), much as the SJWs would like to tar people. Greek gives us ‘misos’ (hatred) in a prefix as in misanthropy, misandry, misogyny, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue in coinages such as misislamist (which sounds like the unlikely winner of an unlikely beauty contest).
    What about the Latin ‘odium’, which has currency even now? As a suffix one might coin ‘homo-odium’, ‘islamodium’ etc, though they still don’t exactly roll off the tongue.

  • David Bishop

    Perhaps ‘Camerodium’ works a little better?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Not to repeat myself, but repeating myself, what’s wrong with “Islamorealism,” etc.?

    All that means is that if Islam is wonderful, we are realists who face and accept the fact of its wonderfulness; if it’s awful, ditto; and if it’s mixed in some respects, well, “realism” allows us to accept that fact too, and point out the cons as well as the pros. And if we see that the cons outweigh the pros in awfulness, at least in the current situation, realism sees and accepts that as well.

    In other words, “realism” doesn’t encourage prejudice either pro or con. It takes the attitude that things are what they are, and lets us get on with investigating what they are, and with publishing the results and arguing moral evaluations, and also policy, based on the reality that we find.

  • Fred the Fourth

    Nocholas: Romney was undone, IIRC, by some “journalist” poking a mic at the crack under the door leading into a room where an ostensibly private lunch / chat was taking place.
    Mic awareness is one thing; but that incident struck me more as peeping-tom behavior. However, these days, what with the advent of mini-drone-robots (cf. “The Fifth Element”‘s cockroach-mic-transmitter) any person may need to watch their speech at any time and place.

  • Fred the Fourth

    “Nocholas”: What you have when Nicholas is not actually present, I guess.

  • Laird

    Apologies to Snide; I did indeed mean Robert.

  • Julie, thanks for the suggestion (I must have missed where you said it before); -realist, as in e.g. Islamorealist, is good and can certainly be used in many contexts. In the current debate, whether to call myself a EUrorealist or a EUrosceptic is a matter of tactics and tone of the conversation. Obviously, I regard myself as realistic about the EU and its committed supporters as fantasists or worse, but they do not share that view, so, in a discussion with both them and the uncommitted, the word best to use will depend on the context.

    Similarly, Islamosceptic may have a role in a debate that (for whatever reason) you don’t want to end with the kind of person who calls you an islamophobe. I suspect the kind of person who would go ballistic if you uttered “transrealist’ would probably do the same if you said you were merely sceptical of the idea of gender being a purely social construct, but it might be more possible to continue the conversation in the latter case, so whether to respond to accusations of insanity by calling oneself a transrealist or merely a transceptic would depend on how eager you were to continue said conversation. 🙂

  • Alisa

    Am I the only one who thinks that such labels are unnecessary and even counterproductive? I don’t mind using them as shorthand in conversations with like-minded folks, but otherwise I think they confuse things more than they clarify. Why not just say something like ‘Homosexuality makes me feel uncomfortable, but it’s none of my business as long as…’, etc. Or, ‘I think that Islam is a dangerous ideology, just as Communism or Nazism are’.

  • mojo

    Bugger Bognor!

  • PersonFromPorlock

    For a counter to “phobia” how about “phamia?” Islamophamia, Islamophame, and Islamophamic. “In showing his Islamophamia, the Islamophame is being Islamophamic.” Also Homophamia, Homophame, and Homophamic, and other similar analogs to -phobia.

    Frankly. I pulled “phamia” out of my arse since there doesn’t seem to be a suitable ending in English. Just use it, and if anyone asks, tell them it means “a rational cautiousness.”

    Hey – new words gotta come from somewhere!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, thanks very much for the feedback. :>)

    The following is an attempt to explain my thinking, if anybody cares.

    .

    I am thinking, of course, of the terms “climate sceptic” vs. the alternatives in use by a few hardy souls on both sides of the Climate Wars: “Climate realist.”

    Mostly, “climate sceptic” is a label referring to us scientophobic knuckle-draggers en massess, whether in print or in speech. Sometimes the Opposition uses it, though “climate denier” still seems to be much more popular with them. (Both are completely silly terms, of course.) But it seems to me that the alternative “climate realist” in such contexts is much more accurate and much less prejudicial.

    For: “Climate sceptic” is supposed to mean “One who is sceptical about the truth of the current claims that the climate is warming overall, and that this will be a disaster.” But its literal translation is, “A sceptic of climate,” “One who is sceptical of climate.” This is as silly as “Climate denier” – “A denier of climate,” “One who denies climate.” !!!

    Whereas “Climate realist” translates directly to “A realist about climate,” “One who is realistic about climate [its existence, nature, behavior,].” This is utterly non-prejudicial on its face.

    What is a “Eurosceptic”? Someone who is “sceptical about Europe”? I dunno, last time I looked there really is a geographical area denoted by the word “Europe.” It’s real, it exists. What’s to be sceptical about?

    No. “Eurosceptic” is probably meant as shortspeak for “One who is sceptical that Britain will be better off, net, if she leaves the E.U.”

    As for “transrealist,” “trans” is a prefix, a modifier, meaning “across,” so a “transrealist” is a “realist about ‘trans,'” i.e. a “realist about ‘across,'”whatever that is. I can’t imagine using such a term (“about” is a preposition and requires a noun as the object of its linkage), but if one must, one has to be very careful that one is a realist about the issues surrounding the entire notion of “transgenderism [more shortspeak!],” as opposed to, say, issues surrounding transcontinental flight or transferred [contagious] diseases.

    Actually, “homophobe” and “homorealist” are subject to the same criticism, since “homo” is prefix, a modifier meaning “same.” Personally, I am highly realistic about “same,” in that I do attempt to work out whether things that are claimed to be “the same” really are, or to what degree they really are. One needs a well-established and very narrow context for either word to make any sense. Of course, this is one case where the lingo is fairly well established, so the more serious harm done is to the ability to think clearly and to fight spurious allegations of bigotry leading to the loss of liberty rights, up to and including lynchings and the like.

    (Retaining clarity of meaning, therefore also of both thought and communication, is almost always my basic issue when I get to analyzing (or mis-analyzing — oh, surely never!) statements in English.)

    . . .

    In that light:

    Some people are wedded (or welded) to the idea that anything less than wholehearted, full-throated approval of Islam in all its aspects are, simply, “Islamophobic” or “A hater of Islam in general and of all Muslims in particular — an anti-Muslim bigot.” These people are not going to turn off the steam valve, no matter what one says to explain one’s position, or to argue for it.

    There will always be people who simply cannot accept that words mean what they actually suggest (in cases where we are inventing neologisms based on the joining of words so as to arrive at a new term for the concept we have in mind).

    That is no reason to put the term out of the running; and to my mind at least it admits of easier defense from subversion by the Usual Suspects. It does, after all, have the advantage of suggesting the real position of most people whom they call “Islamophobes,” and is actually easier to explain and defend.

    The reason to construct a word meaning “realistic about Islam” rather than one meaning “the position that Islam is dangerous” is that “realistic” means that reason is applied to observation, so that one’s judgment is based on evidence. That means that if contrary evidence appears, one is ready or even eager to examine it, and if it indicates one must change one’s opinion, then one does.

  • Julie near Chicago

    However, if people are looking for a word suggesting that Islam is dangerous (which won’t win you friends from the undecided, let alone converts from the putative Islamophiliacs, I promise!), how about warner?

    Thus, one who warns of Islam: Islamowarner.

    . . . . . . .

    From the Online Etymology Dictionary (my boldface):

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=warn

    .

    Warn (v.)

    Old English warnianto give notice of impending danger,” also intransitive, “to take heed,” from Proto-Germanic *warnon (cognates: Old Norse varna “to admonish,” Old High German warnon “to take heed,” German warnen “to warn”), from PIE *wer- (5) “to cover” (see weir). Related: Warned; warning.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Phoo, I shouldn’t have changed it. Originally I wrote “Islamowarnian,” as in the etymological dictionary. And that is what it should be: “Islamowarner” was a bad second thought. :>(

    .

    Islamowarnian.

  • polidorisghost

    “Is not liking people in general OK?”

    It’s the safe option.

  • Alisa (May 21, 2016 at 9:33 am), bad words may or may not drive out good, but they will more easily drive out the absence of a word. Trevor Phillips (who is now beginning to repent of it) coined the word islamophobia precisely because his party’s political goal was better served by a word that labelled dissenters insane than by a paragraph that argued with them. A paragraph denying the accusation will vanish from the 30-second slots and headlines even of an unbiased, merely uninterested, media (which, obviously, is mostly not even what we have), and is easier to disappear from or mangle in their stories. A single word may make it into the 30-secodn slot / headline, and even more into the story. Get your own label or be at the mercy of labels chosen by your enemies (kind of a PR variant of “when guns are criminal, only criminals have guns”); when you are attacked by labels, attempting to defend yourself without them would be fine in a civilised discussion where no adversary cheats – but we’d not have this problem if those were the discussions that counted.

    Obviously, islamosane would be a propaganda retort to islamophobe, presumably accompanied by islamophiliac for one whose refusal to foresee danger will one day see them bleed at the hands of their mascots.

  • Alisa

    Niall, I will not attempt to repudiate your entire point, as it is a valid one, so I’ll reply to some specifics:

    A single word may make it into the 30-second slot / headline, and even more into the story.

    That only happens with labels invented/stolen* by your opponents, since they are the ones controlling the mainstream media. On your own blog or FB page, or even in a random discussion thread, you can:

    Get your own label or be at the mercy of labels chosen by your enemies

    but then see * above – i.e. the enemies can and will appropriate (steal) your new word and use it for their own purpose (witness the transformation of the word liberal in the US), or ignore it (witness the non-prominence of words such as climate alarmist).

    (kind of a PR variant of “when guns are criminal, only criminals have guns”)

    You can lock up your gun, you can’t lock up your words – they are free for all.

    when you are attacked by labels, attempting to defend yourself without them would be fine in a civilised discussion where no adversary cheats – but we’d not have this problem if those were the discussions that counted.

    I think that those discussions count more than anything else, as counterintuitive as it may seem. However, the other kind does count as well, and in those there is a middle road between short-hand labels and long paragraphs explaining stuff. For example, when someone in some thread calls you an islamophobe, you can say that yes, you are scared of Islam, and one would be insane not to be scared. That way, you are the one using the label invented by the other side, without supplying them with one of your own (grabbing their gun, as it were, in the absence of one of your own).

    As I hinted in the beginning, none of this is to assert that we shouldn’t invent labels or buzz-words of our own – all I am trying to point out is that we should exercise care when we do. Kind of like when you buy a gun, you should make sure that you can keep it reasonably safe from people who can and will use it against you. As pointed out above, such risk is infinitely higher with words than it is with guns – while if no one cares about using your gun against you, it is probably not much of a gun to begin with.