Monday, 21 March 2011
Labour's Definition of Equality
The Falkirk MP Eric Joyce considers he's saved one of Scotland's hotel chains from doom and disaster.
According to Eric Joyce, (I'm not providing a link to his blog), he discovered the BNP had made arrangements to launch their Scottish campaign at the Inchrya Grange Hotel, Falkirk (a MacDonald chain) last Saturday. Eric Joyce didn't approve of the event happening in his constituency so, on Friday, very publicly, he set about ensuring the event didn't take place. He admits to contacting the hotel manager who, to give him credit, refused to discuss the hotel's bookings diary with him - possibly because it was none of the MP's business. Undeterred, Eric Joyce then set about a Twitter campaign against the hotel, asking his Twitter followers to email or tweet the hotel 'to express your concern and to request that MacDonald Hotels refuse bookings from the British National Party'. Some did send threatening emails and tweets.
Under this pressure the hotel capitulated and cancelled the event with only 24 hours notice: Eric Joyce, of course, was delighted.
As far as I believe the BNP is a legal political party. I understand they booked and paid for the function under the name 'BNP Scotland', although Eric Joyce says there is a well-known investment house (Paribas) with the same acronym in his constituency; thereby implying the hotel didn't realise the manner of the function.
I have no time for the BNP but they are as entitled to campaign as any other legitimate political party. Eric Joyce's actions are completely undemocratic and should be condemned as sinister and bullying. He underestimates the ability of the Scots to judge the BNP for themselves and by taking this action he has, quite possibly, encouraged some to look more closely at the BNP and its policies. The consequences could result in an increase in BNP votes here in Scotland - the very outcome Eric Joyce said he wanted to quench.
Another aspect of this story is the action of the hotel. Can you imagine booking a function with the MacDonald Hotel chain when they are content to cancel it with 24 hours notice because the local MP doesn't agree with it? The chain describe itself as independent, yet there's nothing independent about allowing your MP to influence your business and pandering to his undemocratic, discriminatory requests.
Eric Joyce hasn't had his troubles to seek in his years as an MP. Last year he was convicted of drink-driving and was the most expensive MP in Westminster in 2010 with his £200,986 expenses bill.
If a Labour MP is ruthless enough to disregard equality and discrimination legislation so publicly, how does the party operate out of the public gaze? Something to ponder.