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A nation to be proud of? Debatable!


In her monthly column, Gemma Middleton tells us why she is less than enamored with the state of the nation.

The news has left a very nasty taste in my mouth over recent month’s and before you think it is anything to with the economy, politicians or banks, it is something I deem to be much, much worse; discrimination.
Many of the main issues surrounding diversity are regularly in the headlines and, in some situations, it is actually running the risk of some people in society becoming desensitised, yet over the past few months some truly horrendous incidents have taken place, many of which have been homophobic attacks in some of our largest cities.
I don’t understand prejudice, I believe that it is the world’s diversity that is mother nature’s secret, being all the same would be boring and as Forest Gump’s mother said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.’
A recent media storm that actually caused nearly the whole of Britain to gasp in sheer shock was when Strictly’s Anton Du Beke called his dance partner, Laila Rouass a racist term and just to add to the media circus the TV legend that is Bruce Forsyth stated that we needed to get a sense of humour over the issue. This no doubt added to the BBC’s Strictly headache as the previous two weeks saw a very negative backlash for the apparent sacking of Arlene Phillips for Alesha Dixon who is 30 years her junior and whilst it has been vehemently denied that it was over age, many believe otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Strictly, but what did get me thinking about the whole race fiasco was the difference in the way the media dealt with the Strictly racism issue compared with the race row two years earlier on Celebrity Big Brother; the Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty row.
Goody was demonised in the press for months and whilst Du Beke did receive a few calls for his sacking, the media circus was definitely a lot less ferocious and died down an awful lot quicker. This made me ask the question, are we as a nation more prepared in some circumstances to accept prejudice behaviour, and if so why? Surely all issues of discrimination should be treated and dealt with the same?
Equality and diversity training is often greeted with a lukewarm reaction; a tick box exercise that generates a ‘I don’t need to do it as I don’t cause offense’ response. Whilst many would argue that elements of society have become too “PC”, the fact that these terrible instances still happen proves that the issue needs addressing and quite clearly shows what we are doing at the moment is not enough.
Take the group attack on James Parkes in Liverpool; the perpetrators were teenagers, which makes me think that maybe it is more than just the responsibility of business organisations providing equality training and development. It looks to me that it needs to be a mandatory part of education right through to school leaving age and that this training should then continue for everyone in the workplace; continued development supported by organisations.
Discriminative views generally seemed to be seen as unacceptable; take Nick Griffin, the BNP’s leader and self-proclaimed most hated man in Britain. His appearance on Question Time sparked outrage, and rightly so, as a lot of his views are just plainly wrong, so surely the majority of society must be on the same page?
What is happening now is not a society that I am proud of; no matter what religion, sex, sexual preference and any other supposed defining pigeon hole you are in, if we all lived by the rule of treating others how we wished to be treated the world and our society would be a hell of a lot better.

Gemma Middleton is a regular columnist for and the marketing coordinator at Righttrack Consultancy. Read her other features: Where are all the good role models, Bigger isn't always better, Generation Y hits the wall, Social media for learning?,Can discrimination ever be positive? and The British Resolve: Leading us to greater things.


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