Compare & Contrast: What the People Say V What the Politicians Say

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has been sacked for describing life in the army like this

that's the way it is in the Army. If someone is slow on the assault course, you'd get people shouting: 'Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard.

... Let's see what a former black corporal has to say:

Leroy Hutchinson, a black former corporal who served with Mr Mercer for 12 years, said: "He never tolerated racism in the battalion and not a single one of his men would consider him to be racist."

Mr Hutchinson told the BBC: "In the forces... name-calling - whether you be black, white, ginger, red, brown - it is part of the establishment."

He added: "It's not meant and it doesn't come across from an individual as a racist comment. It's just part of the culture.

"When you wear that uniform, it is what goes on and it's been happening for a long, long time."

The Politicians say:


The comments made by Patrick Mercer are completely unacceptable and I regret that they were made.

We should not tolerate racism in the Army or in any walk of life.

Patrick Mercer is no longer a Shadow Minister.


Racist abuse can have no place in any walk of life, and it is appalling and inappropriate for any politician, never mind a senior Tory MP like Patrick Mercer, to suggest that 'this is just the way it is in the Army'.

Our troops and our officers are 21st century people who recognise that there is no place for prejudice in the modern world... Patrick Mercer may have a military background but he no longer speaks for the Armed Forces.

It is an insult to the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces with great distinction, and it does not represent a true picture of today's Army which goes to great lengths to ensure that all those who serve, irrespective of their race or ethnic origin are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.


These are staggering remarks from a frontbench spokesman. Comments like this undermine all those in the Army who have gone to great lengths to ensure that every soldier is treated fairly.


The comments are breathtaking and dreadful and Mr Mercer's resignation is appropriate.

All rather a predictable knee-jerk affair.

The People say:

I spent 17 years in the Army and my experiences were aligned to Mercers. For me the insults (when I deserved them) were based on my "Yorkshireness". But I never took them as "personal". It was just the norm. The fijians, gurkhas, africans, welsh, irish, scots etc. etc. also got their share of tailored insults - as did fat, thin, tall and short people. We all got them and all used them.

Maybe we were less precious then and had fewer 'PC warriors' standing up for us. Much better then than now!!

Martin Hudson, Salisbury, United Kingdom

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:19 GMT 18:19 UK

It is a sad day when a man loses his job simply because he has drawn on a life's experience to make a point.

W.S.Becket, Bangor

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:13 GMT 18:13 UK

Somebody who has served in the army gives a description of what it is like and lots of people who have not served in the army say that this is not a fair reflection??

The 'banter' he describes is part of British life and having ginger hair myself I know all about it. In the majority of cases no offence is intended. Why do people always play the race card on issues like this?

fred fannakapan, bristol, United Kingdom

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:07 GMT 18:07 UK

Sounds like he was just describing life in the army as it is.

Is telling the truth a sackable offence now? Should we ignore reality for fear of offending someone?

Personally I expect the army to be full of hard tough people who are quite happy to shout obscenities at each other.

Jay, London

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:08 GMT 18:08 UK

I was beginning to warm to Mr Cameron, then he goes and pulls a PC stunt like this! Mr Mercer wasn't being racist, he was just telling the truth.

Andrew Howlett, Manchester

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:52 GMT 18:52 UK

It's yet another case of the media taking a perfectly true statement and using it out of context to create their own cut'n'stick villains. For anyone who's bothered to actually read his quote, he said nothing resembling 'all blacks are useless' or even hint he didn't like ethnic minorities. What he in fact said was to any logical person quite true. And why not use the 'racism card'? The government seems to promote it.

Abitha-Evie Varney, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:23 GMT 18:23 UK

At least we know what this MP thinks which is more that can be said of the rest ,shout Race or racist and the debate is closed thats why so many use the argument

David Gray, Isleworth middlesex

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:13 GMT 18:13 UK

It has clearly emerged from this incident that Patrick Mercer
has a far greater clasp of what happens in the real world, and is better equipped to be the Conservative Party Leader, rather than a wet, wimpy, boy who has no experience to offer a major political party.

Rodney Frampton, RINGWOOD, United Kingdom

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:53 GMT 18:53 UK

I served 22 years in the army and agree 100% with what Mr Mercer has said. The army runs on good natured banter. I have a West Country and in my time have been called Yokel, Worzel Gummidge and a variety of less printable names. I did not take offence as I would give as good as I got. What ticks many squaddies off today is the PC b/s that has stifled free speech, one of the freedoms that we joined up to protect.

Mick Taylor, Navarre Florida (Ex Pat)

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:51 GMT 18:51 UK

I'm not in the army, I'm in the merchant navy but i see the same sort of thing in my very multinational work. The general perception is that it doesnt matter what colour creed or religion you are so long as you can do your job properly. However try telling a one of our ethnic minority colleagues that they have done something wrong and you are immediately accused of being a racist. I have heard them saying some very racist things but you cant accuse THEM of being racist oh no, thats not PC is it?

scott, edinburgh

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:51 GMT 18:51 UK

What a great country we live in. Tell the truth from your experience and get sacked.

Kenneth Purdie, Greenock

Added: Thursday, 8 March, 2007, 18:12 GMT 18:12 UK

Mr Mercer was not condoning racism at all and his comments have been taken out of context. The black officers once under his charge have even stepped forward in his defence.
Rather than look at the evidence and facts Mr Cameron seemd to have leapt in two footed and taken what he see's as a responsible decision. I see it as rash and not thought out,also showing the fragile state of the Tory party still , even after 10 years of the current jokers being in power.

Andrew Lindop, Connahs Quay

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2 Responses to “Compare & Contrast: What the People Say V What the Politicians Say”

  1. # Blogger Tu s. Tin

    you've got to be kidding ... saying someone is black is racist?  

  2. # Blogger jonz

    It's all a bit silly really  

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