More PC Surrender Revealed

It has long been apparent that the functionary classes are the chief culprits in the continual surrender to pressure from Muslim groups seeking special privileges in British society.

By functionaries we mean senior managers and administrators of public sector organisations, including Central and Local Government, quangos and major charities, and large business corporations who simply bow to those who make the most noise on the assumption that the long suffering British public will simply put up with it.  However things may be about to change – at least among the big retail corporates.

The Case of Retail Food Stores

As widely reported in the British press, Marks and Spencer (a major British food and clothing chain of stores with overseas branches) has a policy, not previously revealed of course, of allowing its Muslim checkout staff to refuse to serve customers who have alcohol and/or pork meat products among the goods in their trolleys.  Note that the checkout staff are not required to eat the products, or even touch them, merely to apply a reader to the barcode on the packaging.

Following a policy which manifestly comes from the very top of Marks and Spencer, store managers have been told to tell their checkout staff they can ask a customer to go to another till with all the difficulty that entails in backing a loaded trolley in a narrow space past other customers in line, many of whom will also have alcoholic drinks (such as wine and champagne) or pork and bacon products (such as sausages and ham) in their trolleys.

In the usual corporate 1984-speak typically found in the late unlamented German Democratic Republic (b. 1945, d.1990) an M&S spokesman is quoted as saying, “Marks and Spencer promotes an environment free from discrimination (sic) and so where requests (by staff) are made, we always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them, whilst ensuring high levels of customer service” (i.e. a complete reversal of the truth).  The blogosphere is now alive with proposals to promote a boycott of M&S.

Of the other big retail food chains contacted, Asda, Morrison’s, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, only the latter gave a straight-forward uncompromising answer to the obvious question, namely “that the same rules apply to all staff regardless of religious beliefs.  If a religious belief involves not eating or drinking something in particular, they can still handle the food or drink as part of their job” (which is now a lot more than just being at the checkout).  All the other chains weasled around the issue with phrases like “pragmatic approach” or “working around the issue with staff” (i.e. the store giving in to pressure from one or two members of its staff).

On the BBC Radio4’s  morning flagship programme “Today” under questioning yesterday morning from its leading presenter, John Humphrys, the Asda spokesman wriggled and claimed that Asda worked with each of their 181,000 “colleagues” individually.  Eventually in answer to Humphrys’s direct question, “Would you allow them (i.e. Asda staff) to work on the till and refuse to serve a customer?” the spokesman said they would “move a colleague” which is an odd reply given that the local management would surely know in advance if an individual was likely to refuse to handle pork and alcoholic products.  What if someone turned up in a burka, with only slits to see through?  How are they going to “work round” that?

As Michael Nazir-Ali, recently retired Anglican Bishop of Rochester said (and he knows a thing or two about Muslim pressure on Christians in Pakistan where the vast majority of British Muslims come from), “If supermarkets do not put up a notice saying this desk does not handle pork meat or alcoholic beverages, it runs the risk shoppers could be humiliated (and mightily inconvenienced) when they get to the checkout.”

So why don’t M&S, Asda, Tesco and Morrison’s do just that?  No answer has yet been given to that because it would obviously reduce till capacity by however many Muslim anti-pork and anti-alcohol staff happened to be on duty.  The subtext is that such a move would be interpreted as “discrimination” against those Muslims who chose to “interpret their religion in that way.

The Limits of Toleration Exceeded

The great Queen Elizabeth I once declared amid the fierce religious antagonisms of her reign (1558-1603) that “I seek no windows into men’s souls”, meaning of course that what individuals do or believe in private is not the State’s business.  That statement is one which English people have believed ever since to be the essence of toleration.

What the British people are now faced with is continual pressure from members of a religious group, the Muslims – only recently arrived in numbers in this country – to make changes to suit their customs but affecting millions of British people.  At its extreme this demand stretches all the way to the BBC allowing Anjem Choudary, so-called militant, a platform on that same Today programme on Friday last (20th December) to proclaim his support for the two barbaric killers of soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks, where they attempted to cut off the poor man’s head in full view of passers-by while rejoicing in their acts as soldiers fighting Britain.


There is a Common Law offence of “seditious words” which covers “an intention to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the Queen’s subjects[1] and inciting violence or public resistance for the purpose of disturbing constituted authority (i.e. the Queen or institutions discharging a public function of the State)”.

Listening to Choudary on Friday last, most people would think that his words, despite their measured tones, fell precisely into that definition which at Common Law derives from the case of Burns v Regina (1886) but don’t be surprised if the legal authorities do nothing.  One of their excuses will be that it is very difficult to prove “intention”.  But this is got round in the race hatred laws by use of the phrase “likely to” so that “intention” to stir up race hatred does not have to be proved, although lack of intention can be held to be a mitigating factor.

Beliefs and Customs

While the British people have, in the spirit of Queen Elizabeth I, shown huge tolerance of different private beliefs, toleration of disruptive customs is quite another matter.  It appears that religious prohibitions on eating pig-derived products and drinking alcohol are essentially ancient practices deriving from the hot dry weather of the Middle East and wild pigs’ scavenging nature.  What in Middle East terms may have been sensible adaptations of their culture against ill-health, have in some minds, got themselves woven into their religions as matters of fundamental belief, not just eating, but even being near the forbidden products.  This surely has now to be adapted by Muslims themselves to the realities of living in Britain, which has a secular Christian-derived culture, and a profound belief in democracy, of which Queen Elizabeth I’s dictum is a basic component.

It would be very welcome to the British population and to many Muslims one suspects if senior Muslim clerics were to make clear that, having regard to the historic culture of a Northern European country like Britain, where in practical terms all food products are tightly controlled against contamination and misrepresentation, the Middle East derived prohibition on eating certain products does not extend to handling them in the course of employment.

What public and private sector functionaries must do

For its part, the functionary class in both the private and public sector must exert the leadership it is always boasting about.  They need to tell all their staff that their businesses operate under British law and culture and these are going to be upheld for all citizens without fear or favour.

Where the actual Law on sedition is broken by individuals they will be prosecuted without the subjective caveats of the Crown Prosecution Service (“only if it is judged by the officials of the CPS to be in the public interest”).

Where habits or customs clearly interfere with the functioning of the business, employees will be discharged without fear of unfair dismissal proceedings being brought against their former employers.


[1]  Burns (1886) 16, Cox cc 355

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