Posted on November 11, 2008

Council Ranks Term ‘British’ With ‘Negroes’ and Bans It in Case It Upsets Scots, Welsh and Minorities

Neil Sears, Daily Mail (London), November 11, 2008

A race relations quango is warning that the word ‘British’ should be avoided because it is similarly offensive to the words ‘negro’ and ‘half-caste’

According to the publicly funded organisation—headed by disgraced former Cabinet minister Ron Davies—to use the word British ‘implies a false sense of unity’ that is unwelcomed by people from Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Astonishingly, this extremist view is being swallowed wholesale by council and health authorities which use the Valleys Race Equality Council as a trusted consultant.

As a result, council staff and health workers across Wales are struggling to express themselves when trying to describe the people they are working with.

Last night the guidance was condemned as ‘political correctness gone mad’ by Conservative MP David Davies.

Yet the advice from the Valleys Race Equality Council (Valrec) has in fact been circulated for some time, and has only come into the public eye after being adopted by Caerphilly council, near Cardiff in south Wales.

All 9,000 staff at the council have been issued with a leaflet entitled Equalities in the Delivery of Council Services advising them on how to deal with the public—and what words or phrases not to use to avoid causing offence.

Under the heading ‘British’, the leaflet solemnly informs council workers: ‘The idea of “British” implies a false sense of unity—many Scots, Welsh and Irish resist being called British and the land denoted by the term contains a wide variety of cultures, languages and religions.’

The suggestion the word ‘British’ should be avoided appears alongside similar sections in the leaflet which warn that ‘half-caste’ implies ‘a person is not whole and so should be avoided’ and that ‘negro’ has ‘racist overtones and is linked with the slave trade’.

The man behind the leaflet, Mr Davies—who lost his Cabinet job after a ‘moment of madness’ with a male stranger on Clapham Common in 1998, then left the Welsh Assembly after allegations he had gay sex in a wood—has been £27,000 a year head of Valrec for five years.

Mr Davies—who denied the woodland sex allegations, claiming he was looking for badgers, but later admitted to being bisexual—is also a senior independent councillor in Caerphilly, which helps explain why his advice is taken so seriously.

Discussing the leaflet yesterday, Mr Davies said: ‘It’s just for information, there’s no advice or instruction.

‘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.’

But Welsh Tory MP David Davies said: ‘I’m afraid Valrec is guilty of trying to propagate its own views. There’s absolutely nothing offensive about describing people as British.

‘This is political correctness gone mad. Organisations like this are using public money to propagate their own narrow nationalistic ideas.

‘Perhaps they should be replaced by a single body that promotes Britishness and encourages everyone in this country, whether black, Asian or white to unite and stand together under the British flag.’

And Wales rugby legend Gareth Edwards, who won 53 caps for Wales and ten for the British Lions, said last night: ‘This is absolutely mad.

‘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—I’ve played for the British Lions and I’m very proud of that as well.

‘I have no issue with being called British, none whatsoever.’

The director of Race Equality First in Cardiff, Mohammed Tufail, said he describes himself as British despite being born in Pakistan.

Mr Tufail said: ‘I have not come across any Welsh people who have said: ‘Don’t refer to me as British’.

‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling someone British.’

Less than one per cent of Caerphilly’s 170,000 residents are from ethnic minorities—and figures from the last census suggest only 15 per cent of the total identify themselves as Welsh.

A Caerphilly 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.

‘However, we also recognise that political correctness can sometimes be taken too far and we try to strike the right balance so that we are sensitive to the needs of minorities by taking a common sense approach.

‘The information contained in our equalities handbook was a terminology exploring various words and their connotations—it is not a direct instruction to staff about what phrases they can and cannot use in the workplace.’

Valrec has five full time staff and is funded by local councils and the Commission for Racial Equality.