This sort of complaint is pernicious

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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Is political correctness and liberal orthodoxy infecting every aspect of government and society, at the expense of common sense? Just asking.

As someone who supported the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner several years ago, it is dispiriting to see the recent events reported in the PT concerning the current PCC.

This week, a collection of faceless bureaucrats (The PCC “Complaints Panel”) took it upon themselves to try to humiliate the elected Conservative Police Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite, over Facebook comments he made about travellers on his personal – yes personal - Facebook page no less than seven years ago. Well, I say faceless – one of the Complaints Committee members was Cllr Ed Murphy, defeated Labour candidate for PCC in 2012. Mr Ablewhite has been “ordered” to apologise (again) and “engage with members of the traveller community.”

And on what basis? The complainants – probably publicly funded Leftist layabout grievance merchants – hide under the cloak of anonymity whilst Mr Ablewhite is forced to prostrate himself before the great and the good, whose “investigation” has used up valuable time and money better deployed supporting our local police in tackling crime and criminals.

The complaint – such as it was - was already dismissed as too frivolous for the attentions of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Panel would have been wise to have followed suit and handed out some firm and private advice but no, they had to exercise their share of “power” over a man with a strong mandate – having been elected by 82,000 local people earlier this year – because they could. The remarks were made long before he assumed office and admittedly were a bit silly and ill judged (banter is the generic term) and I wouldn’t have put them on my Facebook page but isn’t this a huge overreaction?

Apologies are important when we’ve made mistakes of course. But they shouldn’t be exclusive to public officials.

I wonder when we’ll see an apology from the minority of travellers who every summer disrupt the lives of local businesses and local residents in Peterborough? For violence, fly tipping, coercion, squatting, theft and criminal damage? Will we see an apology for council inaction and the delays in police response times in addressing these matters? I think we know the answer.

These kind of complaints are pernicious and insidious in that they attempt to destroy free speech and an honest exchange of views by delegitimising the sincere and justified complaints of the settled community, notwithstanding the foolish nature of this particular exchange. What they do is breed resentment and anger and a feeling of “one rule for them and another for us” which is bad for community relations.

I for one won’t accept such censorship and politically correct publicly funded nonsense. Were I Jason Ablewhite, I’d engage robustly with the Panel and tell them what they can do with their apology.