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  • Lawrence Bailey

Equality remains a work in progress



Last week, I shared some thoughts in this column about injustice.

An email reached me a few days later that rubbished my views. Fair enough, I’m happy to hear alternative comment.

Where I draw the line though is when someone uses offensive expletives to insist that “lefty women” are behind the current protests.

I won’t repeat the unpleasant contents but the writer clearly felt it was fine to mete out personal abuse towards women in politics.

I’ve been privileged over the years to work with individuals who’ve held senior positions in politics and government. They came from different backgrounds and different accomplishments. What they share though is that they’re women prepared to tackle injustice by speaking up.

This infuriates the trolls, as I found out when correspondence was occasionally shared.

Having previously worked in industry, I was sure there was little I hadn’t heard. Yet I was astonished at the number of so-called grown-ups who think it ‘fair comment’ to include foul language and remark on appearance or gender as if it adds meaningful emphasis to a viewpoint.

In more extreme cases, the diatribe was accompanied by an implied threat. Sadly, whilst such inane rantings could be greeted by shrugs in days past, the murder of Jo Cox changed things irrevocably.

The temptation is to respond in kind to these tirades. Eventually however, an effective tactic I helped devise was to reply by correcting the awful spelling and punctuation, but leaving in the graphic anatomical stuff, and then asking if this still accurately reflected their views. There was seldom a response.

Events over time have undoubtedly lessened respect for the profession - but that’s no excuse to treat politicians like a combination of public property and punchbag.

We elect them to speak and vote in our best interests. They may be part of an imperfect system but they deserve to be treated with the same regard that we would expect to receive ourselves.

Sexism and racism and intimidation are wrong. The moment we stop saying so is the moment we put the very justice we seek at risk.

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Watching your language in lockdown

Lockdown can do funny things to people. The latest worrying sign is how arcane English words and phrases have crept into chatroom exchanges.

During the Dominic Cummings episode, someone complained how there was “ne’er a word of censure [from Downing Street] apropos the scapegrace who did tantivy nigh half the realm like some peccant lordling”.

Another reckoned Boris Johnson should have kicked off his lockdown announcement with a warning that the “immedicable character of this ague behove that we do forfend ourselves”.

The same guy labelled the prime minister a ‘fudgelling picaroon’, which I have to say does have a certain ring to it.

New words and phrases keep evolving but there still relevance in the older ones. For example, did you know that ‘Trumpery’ refers to things that look good but are basically worthless.

All good fun, but the fact that I actually went to the trouble of looking up the word suggests that someone probably needs to get me out of here, soon

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