Tag Archives: For Diversity against discrimination

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

It’s been tough watching the news over the last few days. What with the horrific Baby P story, those two boys in Manchester and the Shannon Matthews trial, it does make you wonder what the hell is going on with the world. As Keanu Reeves memorably says in Parenthood: “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” Or, indeed, mother.

What I don’t understand though, is this obsession with apologies. From some time yesterday afternoon the focus of the Baby P story was that “Haringey hadn’t said sorry”. Now that someone has, that’s what’s being reported. Will them saying so make a difference to the families? The question is a genuine one, by the way. We’ve seen this in quite a lot of cases recently, and it goes from the cases where individuals are the victims, like Baby P, or the David Norris/Luke McCormick incident, to apologies for slavery or abusive priests, where thousands or even millions were affected. Put “apology” into Google News and you get reams of results, just in the last day or two. I guess I feel that actions are louder than words, and if I had been affected by something like this, my priority would be to see that something was actually being done about it not happening again. As I say, this is a genuine question and I’d be interested if anyone has any first-hand experience of this to share with me.

I’ve been asked to be on the national jury of the For Diversity Against Discrimination journalism award. Our jury meeting is next week, so I went through the articles today. There were quite a few entries, of varying quality, but I think there are a few potential winners in there.

We’re also gearing up for the EU Mock Council event, where schools will take on the roles of the different Member States to debate various issues. I’ve offered to help the schools that will take the roles of the Council Secretariat and European Commission, as I seem to be the only person in the office with much experience of going to Council of Ministers’ meetings (a somewhat dubious honour…!)

I missed my first OU tutorial last night to go to the BBC News channel for a live piece on the fruit and veg standards. It’s a real shame about missing the tutorial – when you’re learning a language, it’s important to talk it to people I think, and that’s not something I’m doing at the moment. Not that I can say very much yet!

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Hunting for the perfect house

It’s all about the house-hunting today I’m afraid. Excited as I am about getting out there and describing to people what the EU does for them, I need somewhere to live and no-one is going to help me with that! So evenings this week are spent trailing around estate agents and visiting places. I was down in East Greenwich yesterday and back there again today. I’ve also hatched a plan with the people where I am lodging about renting their place, if I can find someone to share with.  So a few irons in the fire and I hope that before too long I’ll have something sorted out. I seem to be a difficult customer for two reasons – I’m looking for an unfurnished place and so much seems to be furnished and also I have the cats, and very few landlords want pets. I can understand not wanting them in a furnshed place, but I don’t see the issue in an unfurnished place – after all it’s my furniture they’ll be scratching. So the search goes on and my best hope is a cat-loving landlord (which is the bonus of the houseboat).

There are some great EU stories around today. As someone trying to bring pets into this country, I’m becoming very familiar with the pet passport scheme, which is now being extended to horses. There have been rules in place before (there need to be for all those Irish racehorses to come over here and win all the major races!) but now they will be based on a microchip, like for cats, dogs and ferrets, rather than a hand-drawn outline. There’s also a food safety aspect to this, less in the UK because we don’t eat each much horsemeat, but they do in lots of other countries. I’ve never had horsemeat, and I suppose I should try it one day, just not to make a snap judgement, though I can’t say it appeals.

Another story I liked was that Love Hearts, refreshers and Double Lollies, among other things, will soon be free of e-numbers as Swizzlers Matlow are going to stop using additives that are not EU-approved. As a bit of a fizzy sweet addict, I think that’s a move in the right direction. There’s no reason that sweets shouldn’t be as natural as possible – frankly, they taste better when they are and it does mitigate the guilt a little!!

I’m off to a meeting this afternoon for the national end of the “For Diversity. Against Discrimination” campaign. There’s A nice circularity about that meeting – my first press conference as a spokesperson was the launch of this campaign in 2003, when Commissioner Diamantopoulou was photographed with the crash test dummies used in the launch ads. The thing that this campaign has got right is the emphasis on national differentiation. So often (generally because of resources) we organise a campaign centrally, usually focused on Brussels, and that just isn’t the way to get to people. Media and advertising are so different from one Member State to another. In one, humour might work well, where as that might put people off in another. Something we always have to keep in mind.

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