Vulgarity is not a serious matter for council standards watchdog

Before Christmas the Ham&High was kind enough to report my concern about vulgar and abusive language adopted by the deputy leader of Camden council s Labour group, Cllr Theo Blackwell (Rant spells trouble for political blogger, H&H December 20), Cllr Bla

Before Christmas the Ham&High was kind enough to report my concern about vulgar and abusive language adopted by the deputy leader of Camden council's Labour group, Cllr Theo Blackwell (Rant spells trouble for political blogger, H&H December 20),

Cllr Blackwell publicly described a fellow councillor as a "Fib-Dem gobshite-merchant". Your paper suggested Camden council might need a swear box.

Not a bad idea. I am now obliged to admit it might be more effective than the grandly titled, expensively maintained and apparently utterly useless Standards Board for England, to whom I addressed my official complaint against Cllr Blackwell's disagreeable vocabulary.

For, though the Standards Board's remit is to ensure that councillors do nothing liable to bring their local authority into disrepute, bandying around epiphets such as "gobshite merchant" is apparently perfectly OK. Far from reprimanding or even cautioning the foul-mouthed councillor, the Standards Board has officially assured me: ".... we do not believe the alleged conduct is serious enough to justify any investigation."


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I hope therefore you will allow me the pleasure of hailing Cllr Blackwell as a successful pioneer in corrupting and degrading the official language of British public life. His publication of outright vulgarisms is now officially sanctioned by the Standards Board (which should perhaps be renamed the Falling Standards Board).

I note that there is even a nasty film available on DVD entitled "Gobshite". So though Cllr Blackwell's language is innovative in the context of British political debate, it is not, of course, original.

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I might add that I am glad to know that Liberal Democrat policy is to get rid of the Labour-invented, self-important and evidently pointless Standards Board for England completely, and to return the control of councillors' conduct to the council itself.

At least they might try to make a decent job of it - starting with the purchase of a swear box, perhaps.

Robin Young

Bedford Avenue, WC1

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