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What joining a union can do for you

In Laurence Fox’s case, get you Officially Denounced – and then a payout for being denounced.

In the midst of a pandemic, this story, comparatively trivial but not without consequences, may have passed you by.

Laurence Fox is an actor and musician. Two months ago he caused rather a stir on the BBC political panel show Question Time. I posted about it here: Has the BBC stopped putting bromide in its actors’ tea?

As I said in that post,

The actors’ union Equity helped spread the story by calling on actors to “unequivocally denounce” their fellow. Yes, those exact words. Equity has now backtracked, but it went to prove Mr Fox’s point.

In the end Equity had to do more than backtrack. On March 13th the Guardian reported,

Equity apology to Laurence Fox sparks string of resignations.

The entire race equality committee of Equity has resigned in protest after the actors’ union apologised on its behalf for criticising Laurence Fox’s views on race and paid an out-of-court settlement to the actor after he threatened to sue them for libel.

I am sure they will be greatly missed.

The former star of the detective drama Lewis also used his appearance on the BBC discussion show to insist it was “racist” for an audience member to call him “a white, privileged male”.

“We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe,” he said at the time. “It’s so easy to throw the card of racism at everybody and it’s really starting to get boring now.”

In the aftermath of his appearance, minority representatives of the actors’ union made a series of accusations on Twitter against Fox, saying he wanted to “berate and bully women of colour attempting to discuss issues of race and gender discrimination”.

Narrator’s voice: he didn’t really.

On Friday, the actors’ union issued a carefully worded statement apologising for the comments, with sources saying a payment had been made to the actor: “We are sorry that in the tweets he was called a ‘disgrace’ by Equity. It was a mistake for Equity as an organisation to criticise him in this way. Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest that he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear. Equity and Laurence Fox condemn prejudice unequivocally in all its forms.”

Daniel York Loh, the former chair of the race equality committee, said he and his eight other colleagues on the committee, elected by the union’s minority ethnic members, felt forced to resign as a result of the decision to apologise to the actor.

I think that should read “as a result of the decision to apologise to their own member”.

He tweeted: “Equity and La*rence F*x can issue as many joint statements and apologies as they like. It’s nothing to do with me and I apologise for nothing.”

If Mr Loh says that Equity’s apology is nothing to do with him, I assume that means that he has not just resigned from the union’s race equality committee but from the union itself – which in practice would mean that he has resigned from being an actor. A principled decision indeed.

Fox, a member of a well-known acting family, previously said he was concerned he would not be able to work following the intervention from the Equity race equality committee. A source close to Fox said a particular concern was its call for him to be “unequivocally denounced” for his comments on race, which could have reduced his ability to earn money from roles and make a living to enable him to look after his family.

Having lost its race equality committee, Equity might like to see if it can manage without replacing this expensive luxury.

7 comments to What joining a union can do for you

  • al from chgo

    “elected by the union’s minority ethnic members”

    Is not this election racist on its face?

  • John B

    ‘ The entire race equality committee of Equity has resigned in protest after the actors’ union apologised…’

    A result, then.

  • While not being expelled from Equity and/or denounced by it leaves Lawrence Fox formally more able to work than the reverse, I wonder which side will actually benefit. I’m thinking of Sarah Hoyt’s “roll hard left and die” analysis.

    An openly right-wing director/producer wishing to make a film or TV series with a free enterprise, free speech background message may find Mr Fox more congenial to cast and the actors who resigned from the committee less congenial. Such a lot of them about, aren’t there (I wish).

    A left-wing and/or industry-conforming director/producer will find it makes for easier cocktail parties with the smart set if they cast the ex-committee members (whose names the public do not know or will forget, helped by the MSM) and avoid casting Mr Fox, whose name the MSM will ensure stays known as ‘controversial’, ‘divisive’ and suchlike.

    PC free speech haters have many ways to achieve their self-and-agenda-serving ends, so we will have to remain alert. (At least I have some hope of seeing the BBC license fee end soonish.)

  • The Pedant-General

    “Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest that he should be denied the ability to work. ”

    Errmmm… this is mealy mouthed nonsense. This was entirely its intention. what the f*ck was it if it wasn’t? This is a non-apology.

  • John

    The other Committee members:-

    Irvine Iqbal
    Jassa Ahluwalia
    Miriam Babooram
    Rebecca Boey
    Julie Cheung-Inhin
    Matt Lim
    Debra Tidd
    Nana St Bartholomew-Brown

    No. Me neither.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair to Equity they have treated Laurence Fox less unfairly than I was treated by Conservative Central Office.

    Equity has apologised for what they said and they even made a payment to Mr Fox – I wish I was in his position.

    My 40 years of service was spat on – by people I had been paying (with my membership fee) and whom never even bothered to meet me or speak with me.

    “Predictable Paul – you should have understood the sort of dishonourable people you were dealing with”.

    True enough – my mistake. If I had the last 40 years over again I would have used my life very differently.

  • mickc

    Paul Mark’s
    Indeed; huge error to believe the present Tory party considers fairness a desirable value