This open letter is currently being circulated amongst trade unionists and citizens of Doncaster, as a response to the actions of the Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies. The petition below will be added to the physical petition and presented to the Mayor at the Mansion House.
Petition: Open Letter to Peter Davies
STOP ATTACKING EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
Since your election you have denied many times that you are racist, homophobic and sexist. You argue that you are against something called ‘political correctness’, and say you will get rid of ‘non-jobs’ in Doncaster. We the undersigned believe that your attack on ‘political correctness’ is nothing more than a smoke screen to undermine the equalities agenda that enables people who suffer discrimination to effectively challenge it. We totally disagree with your claim that your elimination of groups dedicated to helping those who suffer discrimination such as the Multi Racial Partnership will bring social cohesion. Your policies will trivialise discrimination and allow intolerance and bigotry to grow.
You proudly boast that you will axe translation services in Doncaster, as if this service is unnecessary and ‘politically correct’. You fail to understand that people in Doncaster who do not have English as a first language must have some help if they are to integrate into the community, find work, housing, learn about British law and become citizens. Scrapping translation services isolates the people who are most likely to suffer discrimination, increases and institutionalises intolerance and increases division, not cohesion. Your decision to withdraw funding from Doncaster Pride merely comforted homophobic bigots and gave offense to the LGBT community. What is wrong with saying that Doncaster actively celebrates diversity? We demand that you commit to the funding of Doncaster Pride and thereby commit to promoting tolerance and diversity.
You argue that women and ethnic minorities do not need special groups to defend their rights because we all have equal entitlement to our rights already. You fail to understand that the various bodies you attack were brought into existence because these groups were being denied their rights. The denial of rights based on racist, sexist or homophobic prejudice divides our community and destroys social cohesion. That is precisely why the Multi Racial Partnership was set up. You have said we do not need special groups because the police are there to deal with illegal racist acts, but the police themselves say they are too busy to deal with this on their own.
In a recent debate about crime in Doncaster the police officer on the panel emphasised the value of breaking down the perception of the police as a racist institution so that those who suffer attacks will feel more confident about coming forward. The police, it would appear, are being ‘politically correct’ to the advantage of their work and Doncaster.
You have also claimed that you will be ‘looking to see if Doncaster council bans the use of any specific words by staff’ (Daily Mail, 10/08/09). There have to be some limits as to the language DMBC staff will use – what will they be? Will people be able to use words regardless of whether others find them offensive? The Macpherson Report (1999) that called the Metropolitan Police ‘institutionally racist’ showed clearly that officers with racist attitudes used racist language. Words like ‘paki’ and ‘nigger’ were common. The same police force failed to find the killers of Black student Stephen Lawrence. Offensive language should be prohibited and the victims should be supported by DMBC, not trivialised as ‘politically correct’.
You fail to understand that once we start changing the equalities agenda that the overwhelming majority of professionals support, it will be difficult to stop. The racist, homophobic and sexist bigots have already started to interpret your policies as an endorsement of their repugnant views. Prejudice can lead to violence. Do you want innocent blood on your hands?
You say you are not a bigot, but your policies and comments are encouraging bigotry. You have company. The fascist British National Party and the National Front are also keen on attacking ‘political correctness’. You have to acknowledge that at some point the attack on political correctness does become racist, homophobic and sexist. It seems to us that you want to court popularity by going for the politically correct phantoms of the gutter press, with their stories about banning the use of ‘manholes’ and ‘blackboards’. But the equalities agenda is a vital part of the fabric of our public services and we will not see it destroyed. The jobs you want to axe will increase the unemployment blighting our town, and increase racism, sexism, homophobia and social division.
Sign the petition