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Monday, March 12, 2007

Race row Tory could return

Surely it is symptomatic of how little the Conservative Party has changed that a Tory of David Davis' seniority can predict the eventual return of Patrick Mercer to the front bench almost as if nothing of consequence had happened.

Patrick Mercer's comments were not in the same league as Enoch Powell's back in the 1960s, but they were nevertheless inappropriate and showed a view of racism that is unacceptable in twenty first century Britain.

Irrespective of the situation as it exists in the armed forces, Mr. Mercer's job was to show leadership by condemning racism in all its forms. Instead he reinforced it. That was why he had to go, and it is also why he should not be given another front bench job.

To suggest as David Davis did that Patrick Mercer had just made a simple mistake is a mis-judgement of the situation. The sacking of Mercer should not have been a face-saving exercise, it should have been a signal of fundamental change in the Tory Party.

David Davis' defence of Mercer has illustrated how far away from such a re-invention the Tory Party really is. Cameron will have to conduct a night of the long knives to even get close to acceptability.
Presumably, with all that money they got from selling Smith Square, they have been able to afford to build a sin bin at the new CCHQ.

There, gaffe-prone frontbenchers have to sweat it out for a few days before being allowed back in.
So, no rehabilitation, no second chances. Condemned forever, despite the fact that no-one actually thinks he's a racist. My, how liberal!
That's life! And anyway quite a lot of people think he is racist.
If people think that Patrick Mercer is a racist, then quite frankly, they are politically correct idiots!

Then again it could be because he indiscrimately attributed particular behaviour patterns to ethnic minorities. Or are we dealing with different definitions of racist here?
He did make some stupid, ill advised comments. He may well have prejudices, which are wrong and foolish. He may even be a "racist", who believes that people of other races are inferior (although I doubt it given his actual record in the armed forces). But, to damn him forever and allow no possible redemption (no matter what he says or does for the rest of his life) is both illiberal and foolish.
I do not accept that my comments are illiberal (and at least I make them under my own name). However, it seems that you are misreading the post. The point being made was that David Davis' claim that Patrick Mercer might return 'to his old job' in time, indicated a short hiatus, just long enough to establish some credibility for the Tory party leadership. It underlined the actions of Cameron as a face-saving exercise rather than a genuine action against unacceptable views.

Secondly, Davis' description of the comments as a simple mistake seems to me to be a profound misjudgement and a misunderstanding of the context of the debate going on about racism today. That is very worrying in a shadow Home Secretary.
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