“N-word” Cllr COCKERILL – Confronted With The Truth
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on the latest turn of events in the the row about the “N-word” Councillor.
Readers will perhaps recall the case of Scarborough Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Harbours, Assets & Coastal Flood Protection, Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.], and his use, in a Filey Town (Parish) Council (FTC) meeting open to the public, of the racist “N-word”.
It is salutary to note that other Councillors, at other Councils, have resigned on the back of identical unacceptable uses of the “N-word”, as reported (for example) in the Shropshire Star.
Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] made the nationals:
However, despite Formal Complaints from within the Council and from members of the public, Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] has not resigned and is hoping to have escaped accountability by reading out a poorly constructed apology at FTC, in which he lamely claims that he did not use the “N-word” in a racist context.
No doubt the Formal Complaints will all be thrown out (very probably by the same parties who drafted his unacceptable apology) on the grounds that Councillor Mike COCKERILL had not intended to cause offence – try that the next time your are prosecuted for speeding, ” I didn’t intend to drive too fast. Honest, guv”.
Embarrassing, isn’t it? Pukeworthy. But that is my expectation; Councillor Mike COCKERILL is, after all, safely cocooned in Toxic Tom’s Teflon Tower.
I have covered the background details to this issue in two earlier articles:
I was unable to attend the February Meeting of Filey Town (Parish) Council, which was unfortunate because I had hoped to do so to convey the views of the many people who have approached me expressing their disgust at Councillor Mike COCKERILL’s conduct. Several have made the point that if Councillor Mike COCKERILL had been a UKIP Councillor, every tabloid in the country would have front-paged him as the unacceptable face of right-wing extremism that the Tories make the spearhead of their propaganda against UKIP.
So, on Wednesday 11th march 2015, I attended Filey Town (Parish) Council and the Mayor, Councillor John SHACKLETON, offered me the floor in the Public Question Time session, so that I might air those views.
[Please note that it does not state “items on this agenda”].
Here is what I said – freely expressing my opinion, as Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 empowers me to do – and using no notes, speaking impromptu, from the heart:
“Good evening, Mr Mayor. Good evening, Councillors. Good evening, Clerks, Gina, excuse me; I missed you earlier on. I beg your pardon.
I think I can add something to the debate that you had on the subject of the filming. And by the way, this – in my hand at the moment – is a recording device. I’m recording my own conversation; I could do that irrespective of what the rules of the Council are – I can always record myself.
The important issue is that it’s always necessary to remember that a Council – a local authority – may only do that which it is authorised by statute to do.
Conversely, a member of the public may do any action that it is not – he or she is not – prohibited from doing. And there is no prohibition against me recording my own conversation now, so I would just like everybody to be clear about that.
The subject that I would like to address you on is a delicate subject. It needs a little preamble; I hope you will give me a little latitude with the three minutes? I don’t want to rush in like a “bull in a china shop”.
When I use the expression “bull in a china shop”, I have to be clear that the word “bull” is being used in the bovine context – moo! – because that is what’s happening in the china shop. The bull goes in – clatter, clap, trap – the crockery gets broken, and that is not what I want to do. So I am making it very clear to you that I am speaking about a bull – a bovine bull – in a china shop.
And a little earlier, Councillor HAXBY mentioned that it’s all semantics – when we were discussing the filming thing – and, unfortunately, that’s the nature of the law. It’s that when you write down the law, you write it down in the English language and the words have to have a very precise meaning. That’s unavoidable.
Sometimes it feels a little ‘finicky’ and little bit “What do we really mean here?”. But there’s a reason for that, and I am really not being a “dog in a manger” when I bring that up.
When I use the word “dog”, I actually use it in the canine context, because there are, actually, other senses in which you can use the word “dog”; you can think about a soldier, you can think about all kinds of situations. A man can “dog” his enemy, for example. But I use it in the canine sense.
But what I want to put to you tonight is this:
When a man uses the “N-word”, there is only ONE context.
It is the context of superiority.
It is deprecating.
It is insulting.
It is demeaning.
It is pejorative.
It speaks as a class of man – a white man – who speaks down to a black man.
And I am really very sorry to see that this Council has accepted Councillor COCKERILL’s apology, written no doubt by somebody in the legal department, that says that the “N-word” wasn’t used in a racist context.
Because, to my mind, the “N-word” exists ONLY in a racist context.
There is no other context in which you can use that word – other than a man speaking of another human-being in a deprecating and derogatory way.
And I know that you cannot re-visit that in the next six month, because the next six months – you have a six-month rule; you can’t bring something back to the Agenda that has already been discussed.
But my feeling is that we have an election ahead of us now, just a few weeks away. Eight weeks away.
And it is completely clear in my mind that, in using the “N-word”, Councillor COCKERILL used a RACIST word and, to my mind, a man who uses a racist word IS a racist.
And I’m very clear about that.
I am calling Councillor COCKERILL a racist, and I would like you to tell me that I am wrong to do so.
I’ll leave that with you and I thank you for your time, Councillors.”
A member of the public later provided the following photograph, taken at the moment I concluded my address:
I think I may say, without fear of contradiction, that Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] looks mortified by my remarks – and so he should be.
Council continued with the Agenda until, almost five minutes after I had concluded my remarks, Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] came up with the brilliant idea of challenging Mayor John SHACKLETON’s chairship of the meeting by quoting:
“Item 6: Public Question Time – to receive question on items on the Agenda [heavily emphasised] . . . ?”
Nevertheless, nobody can have missed the fact that Councillor Mike COCKERILL’s remarks contained no denial of my opinion that, having used the “N-word” – a word which exists ONLY in a racist context – there are no other connotations – he is, indeed, a racist. One might have concluded that, if Councillor Mike COCKERILL had wished to express a denial, he had had time enough and more in which to gather his thoughts and express them.
But what did we get? No denial – just a buck-passing attempt to discount my remarks by shifting the focus to Mayor John SHACKLETON.
I close now by reminding readers that Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] was formerly a North Yorkshire County Councillor as well as a Scarborough Borough Councillor, having lost his County seat to County Councillor Sam CROSS [Ukip] at the 2013 elections, in the aftermath of the “double-dipping” scandal (in which ten NYCC/SBC Councillors accepted IT/Broadband Allowances from both Councils for one and the same internet connection).
Thus we arrive at the measure of the man.