Monday, 5 October 2009

Carol Thatcher should sue!

I'm not a fan of Strictly Come Dancing. Nor have I ever seen Hole in the Wall, which from the trailers seems like a prime argument for abolishing the licence fee.

Anton Du Beke has therefore rarely entered my consciousness. Even if you came up to me with his photo and told me: "This is Anton Du Beke, who has achieved minor celebrity through appearing on a TV dance show," I'd just have to take your word for it.

But I'm talking about him today because of the story about him apologising after calling his dance partner a 'Paki'.

The Beeb believes that his apology puts an end to the matter. This seems like astonishing double standards, given that Carol Thatcher was axed from The One Show for calling someone a 'golliwog'.

The corporation says the difference between Thatcher and Du Beke is that the latter apologised for his remarks whereas Thatcher didn't. But an apology wasn't enough to save Big Ron Atkinson from being sacked as a football pundit by ITV after calling Marcel Desailly a 'thick nigger'.

Now, there's certainly an argument for saying that using such racial epithets, unpleasant though they might be, shouldn't automatically lead to someone losing their job. I have some sympathy with that view - I think there's a big difference between Carol Thatcher referring to someone as a golliwog in a private conversation and, say, a policeman using the term when searching a young black man.

And you can certainly accuse the Beeb of having skewed priorities by getting rid of Carol Thatcher for her comment, but allowing the BNP on Question Time to peddle their filth.

But the point is, if the use of such terms is thought so unacceptable that people can lose their jobs over them, it shouldn't matter too much whether someone apologises or not - the damage has been done.

If Du Beke is not axed by the Beeb, I think Carol Thatcher should sue the corporation for sex discrimination, as she's certainly been treated differently from a man in the same situation. I think she'd stand an excellent chance of winning.

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