Monday, 14 April 2008

Noblesse Oblige

I was fascinated by an article in The Observer yesterday on the treatment of one young, black, female MP in particular. What amazed me wasn't necessarily the original incidents themselves, appalling as they were, but the justification. David Heathcote Amory MP said the following:

'It is quite absurd. What she is actually objecting to is that I didn't recognise her as a new MP. I simply asked her what she was doing at that end of the terrace, and they are quite sensitive about this kind of thing, they think that any kind of reprimand from anyone is racially motivated.'

'The trouble is that feminism has trumped everything. We are a bit obsessed with getting more women in and I think genuinely broad-based politics is one that takes people from every social and religious group. But we are exaggeratedly courteous to anyone with a different skin colour, so the idea that anything I have said is racist is absurd.'

Now, Mr Heathcote Amory to whom were you referring when you remarked 'they think'? Is there a particular 'us and them' for you? Who is the 'us' and who are the 'they'?

You are exaggeratedly courteous to anyone with a different skin colour? (and was that a royal 'we' I spotted in there?) How generous. How could anyone think that you are anything other than egalitarian? Or maybe others would see this a patrician, colonial form of racism which in certain moments turns nasty as it did on the House of Commons terrace that day?

Noblesse oblige is all very well but it implies status, prejudice, and discrimination and that has no place in modern Britain.

Postscript: Iain Dale has concerns over the spelling of David Heathcote Amory's name in yesterday's Observer. There may one or two other issues of concern that are worthy of comment....

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