Friday, 9 March 2007
The Sacking of Patrick Mercer - An Ex-Sailor's View
The sacking of Patrick Mercer has received a lot of attention from the media and blogging commentators alike. His comments have been received by some as racist and by others as just foolhardy and ill-thought for a man in his position. I personally cannot decide between the two, it's a bit of a grey area and there are many people on both sides of opinion. I would say it is unfortunate in today's PC climate that he was not given the chance to defend his comments or to apologise before he was sacked. Mr Mercer was sacked for the good of the Conservative party, guilty or not. For this I do not blame David Cameron, I feel the blame must fall upon today's 'sack now, discuss later' society.
What disturbs me is the image of our Armed Forces that Mr Mercer's comments may have put into the minds of the general public. I served in the RN from 1986-2002 and did not once witness an act of racial abuse. I did hear racist comments from the occasional idiot, but never once did I hear these uttered in the presence of a person of an ethnic minority. I was not an 'out of touch' officer, I came up through the ranks and left the Navy as a Senior NCO. I had a few very good black friends in the Navy and I, along with the vast majority of the people I served with would have jumped down the throat of any racist.
I cannot speak for the Army or for the period that Mr Mercer served in it, but I believe that because of media attention, the public may think that the problem is far worse than it actually is.
Let me make this very clear: from my sixteen years experience, the Armed Forces of this Nation and the good men and women serving in them are zero tolerant on racism.