Tuesday , September 28 2021

Refusing to serve Dominic Cummings is mere bigotry

Last year Boris Johnson went on holiday to the Applecross peninsular in the West Highlands. After a few days his presence there was discovered and he and his family were forced to leave. This year we learn that Dominic Cummings went to the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool and the staff there initially refused to serve him. Cummings offered to discuss the issue with the staff so that their differences could be discussed. After this they agreed to serve him. The manager of the restaurant had correctly pointed out that “that refusal of service on the grounds of political belief is a dangerous slippery slope”, but he really ought not to have made this point. It is simply outrageous that in Scotland people such as Johnson and Cummings should be treated in this way.

Imagine if Nicola Sturgeon was working in London and staff in a restaurant refused to serve her. Imagine if when Humza Yousaf went on holiday to England with his step daughter to visit Harry Potter World he had been driven out of his accommodation because people disliked his politics. This would have caused justified offence and the people involved would have been liable to be charged with discrimination. But somehow in Scotland it is considered acceptable to deny service to people because we dislike their views.

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are mainstream political figures. Johnson won a large majority at the last General Election. The majority of the British electorate also voted to Leave the EU. If the majority is not mainstream, then I don’t understand what it is to be mainstream. Large numbers of tourists visiting Ullapool and perhaps going to the Ceilidh Place will share some or all of these views. The staff there may not know that they do. Perhaps if someone mentions support for Brexit or opposition to Scottish independence after they have had their starter then they might expect to be ejected before eating their main course. Perhaps the Ceilidh place could have a book where each guest signs in that that they oppose Brexit before being served.

I have never heard of an SNP politician being treated in England with anything other than respect. Yet the SNP policy of Scottish independence would mean that the United Kingdom would cease to exist. It would be divided rather than united and would go the way of the former Yugoslavia. Lots of people in England no doubt want the United Kingdom to continue to exist. After all this ultimately is what our armed forces have defended for many centuries. But nobody treats the views of the SNP politicians as illegitimate and nobody discriminates against them when they are on holiday or working.

What could have been the objection to Dominic Cummings? He was the mastermind behind the success of Leave in 2016. He helped the Conservatives to be elected in 2019. He made a trip to his parental home at the start of the Covid pandemic. What else has he done that so offended staff that they refused to serve him?

There are also Scottish Brexiteers. Some SNP supporters also are opposed to EU membership. If Jim Sillars visited Ullapool, would he be barred from the Ceilidh Place because he opposed EU membership? No of course not because he is neither English nor a Tory. Would Margaret Ferrier who travelled to London while infected with Covid visited Ullapool, would she be denied service? Of course not, because she is Scottish and supports independence. If Douglas Ross visited Ullapool, would he be refused service because he helped the Conservatives win the election in 2019? No of course not, because he is Scottish. It looks very much as if being a Tory and a Brexiteer and lockdown breacher won’t necessarily mean refusal of service in Ullapool, which leaves only one characteristic that gets you banned. Being English. There is a word for this. Prejudice.

Scotland has changed since I was a child. There was always prejudice against English people, but it used to be relatively mild. We would say things about English people that we wouldn’t dream of saying about anyone else, but English people were rarely mistreated because of their accents and I never once heard of them being denied service in a restaurant.

The rise of Scottish nationalism has brought with it a smugness about politics in Scotland. We are progressive. We are this wonderful little society that would be the promised land if only we could separate ourselves from selfish, Brexiteer voting Tory England. It has become acceptable in Scottish politics to treat Tories with a disdain that would be shameful if it were used about any other group of people. Just listen to how Nicola Sturgeon pronounces the word “Tory” as if it were something she had just found on the sole of her shoe. But there are millions of Tories in Britain. They are the majority in England. How can a progressive society have such contempt for millions of people?

In Scottish nationalist circles Tory has become something so contemptible that it is now considered justified morally to deny them the basic services that a free and fair society gives to everyone no matter their colour, creed or political beliefs. We would be horrified if a Muslim were denied service in Ullapool or a black person, but somehow it has become acceptable to kick Boris Johnson out of his holiday home and to refuse Dominic Cummings service because we dislike their politics. This is outrageous and must stop.

If I had been Dominic Cummings, I would not have debated with the bigots who refused to serve me, I would have done exactly what Humza Yousaf did when he allegedly faced discrimination over child care, I would have contacted my lawyer. Discrimination over political beliefs is the mark of not merely an intolerant society, it is a mark of a society moving towards a one-party state where only these views are acceptable and those view are forbidden.

Prejudice against English Tories is acceptable in Scotland. How dare they come to Scotland. But “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them”. We would be outraged if any Scot no matter his views were discriminated in England. Fortunately, we only meet friendship there rather refusal of service. These incidents of hatred against English Tories enjoying their holidays must be condemned by everyone in Scotland. More than that the political climate of Scottish nationalism which has fuelled this hatred must be called out and recognised for what it is. Refusing to serve someone a meal is mere bigotry as well as being unchristian.

This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2021/08/refusing-to-serve-dominic-cummings-is.html

About Effie Deans

Effie Deans is a pro UK blogger who works at the University of Aberdeen. She spent many years living in Russia and the Soviet Union, but came home to Scotland so as to enjoy living in a multi-party democracy! When not occupied with Scottish politics she writes fiction and thinks about theology, philosophy and Russian literature.

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