Gary Oliver: How referee Ross fell foul of the PC zealots

Douglas Ross is the fresh-faced Conservative MP for Moray, the man whose election in June denied Westminster the joie de vivre hitherto provided by the SNP’s Angus Robertson. Ross is also a qualified football referee and moonlights as a professional linesman. But he recently discovered that signalling for a dubious offside is far less hazardous than flagging an opinion which offends politically-correct Scotland.

In late August, participating in a quick-fire online interview, Ross faced the question: ‘If you were Prime Minister for the day, without any repercussions, what would you do?’ ‘I’d like to see tougher enforcement against Gypsies and travellers,’ was his instinctive response. For sure, a surprising priority for a putative Prime Minister; though perhaps less surprising coming from the representative of a rural area who attests to the issue long being a concern for some of his constituents. But if the answer was unexpected, the resultant howls of protest from political opponents were entirely predictable.

Green MSP John Finnie seethed that Ross ‘didn’t seek to eradicate poverty, work for a better planet or peace’ – answers Michael Aspel might have elicited from a Miss World contestant – ‘rather he chose to attack an already beleaguered minority, our Gypsy travellers.’ Not any old Gypsy travellers, mind, but our Gypsy travellers.

MSP Christina McKelvie of the SNP felt moved to hail ‘the Gypsy traveller community’ as ‘part of Scotland’s rich cultural heritage’ and denounced Ross’s choice of subject as further evidence of a Tory party that ‘openly embraces intolerance and prejudice’. Even the Scotland director of Amnesty International, Naomi McAuliffe, weighed in, indicting Ross for ‘divisive and inflammatory rhetoric’ which ‘creates barriers. For those marking a Leftist-boilerplate bingo card, it was a full house.

In the face of enemy fire, Ross apologised for having rashly selected Gypsies and travellers as his number one priority and for not having provided context of a ‘small number who give all travellers a bad name’. But, to his credit, Ross did not grovel as those in the crosshairs are often pointlessly prone; instead, he continued to insist that during his time as a Highland councillor, MSP and now MP, illegal and unauthorised encampments have been a significant local concern, about which ‘the settled community feel their voice does not get raised’.

Needless to say, such lack of contrition further enraged his critics. ‘Even his half-hearted apology did not adequately address the divisive impact of his remarks or show humility,’ fumed local Nationalist MSP Richard Lochhead. ‘The comments are unacceptable.’

Ross’s spontaneous remark had cited ‘enforcement’, which my dictionary defines as ‘the act of compelling observance of or compliance with a law, rule or obligation’. Therefore, even taken literally as his political priority, it seems Ross’s first act following his hypothetical accession to Downing Street would not be to impose new and stronger laws against travellers, but to ensure strict compliance with present legislation. However, expressing the belief that a protected minority group should fully comply with the existing law or face the consequences evidently is, in modern Scotland, beyond the pale.

But whereas the confected outrage of political opponents is now a given, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this episode is that the part-time flag-waver found himself under investigation by the Scottish Football Association, the result of a public complaint that the professional linesman had breached a rule prohibiting match officials from making comments of a ‘discriminatory nature’.



Those who struggle to keep pace with what terms have become verboten might justifiably wonder which of Ross’s words were potentially discriminatory. Is ‘Gypsy’ perhaps now a proscribed, pejorative term? With the word having been liberally uttered by his critics, and still being widely used by travellers’ support groups, apparently not. It seems that simply being less than effusive towards a minority group is now a transgression.

Finally in mid-September, following an investigation by its Compliance Officer, the Scottish FA announced that the matter would not be referred to the Association’s disciplinary panel for punishment. However, the Scottish FA’s statement contained the public admonishment: ‘He should give careful regard to the Scottish FA’s disciplinary rules whilst under its jurisdiction’.

Ross himself dutifully acknowledged, ‘The Association did remind me about the use of certain language.’ But of course, this barely disguised warning to the MP, that to maintain his secondary career running the line in professional football he should avoid similar controversy, did not even begin to satisfy his accusers. In an overweening statement, the organisation Show Racism The Red Card pompously declared: ‘Under the Macpherson definition of racism, Show Racism The Red Card perceives Ross’s comments to be racist. So while the SFA may not consider it to be a breach of policy, we deem it to be a racist incident under the law.’ Ah yes, Macpherson’s requirement for nothing more than perception, now expanded to cover all sorts of new and exciting hate crimes, and a scoundrel’s charter.

As Douglas Ross said when the story broke: ‘This is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is unfortunate that we cannot openly discuss this issue for fear of being called a racist or a bigot.’ Whether or not Ross was correct, that the activities of some travellers are sufficiently troublesome for it to be one of his political priorities as an MP, is beside the point: the matter ought to be a legitimate subject for discussion. Of much greater concern is that on this and so many other contentious issues, too many Leftist politicians and pressure groups now cannot countenance there being any debate at all.

Gary Oliver

  • noix

    Everybody knows what he meant and why he said it. He is right and the PC zealots are wrong.

  • TheRightToArmBears

    Lefties are always looking for opportunities to campaign on behalf of a supposed victim, and will invent a victim where a handy one does not exist.
    And the cowards on the right (i.e. 99.999% of them) will always be happy to support them.

  • paul parmenter

    I wonder if the gypsy traveller community bring as much wonderful, rich cultural diversity to Moray as their counterparts did to Cromer a month or so back.

  • Raddiy

    The only way to break PC thinking is to refuse to participate in it, or refuse to comply to their thinking. However common sense has to be applied, which is often not the case. It is one thing persisting in calling somebody Paddy or using an affectation to a women of Pet or Love, or refusing to use PC contructed terms like Winterval or Happy Holiday for Christmas, or describing Mohammed as a 7th century child abusing mass murderer, it is another thing being deliberately offensive by insulting somebody personally using their physical disablity as a weapon.

    • Try this on for size, as to how to administer such discernment:

      “A kind Providence has placed in our breasts a hatred of the unjust and cruel, in order that we may preserve ourselves from cruelty and injustice. They who bear cruelty, are accomplices in it. The pretended gentleness which excludes that charitable rancour, produces an indifference which is half an approbation. They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”

      It is, of course, from Edmund Burke. So far this week it is my favorite quotation.

  • SonofBoudica

    “Gypsies, tramps and thieves”. So went the song. And it is not wrong. Nobody would mind travellers if they were good neighbours when they camp somewhere. But they are not. Their camps are no-go areas for the police. They make a mess to be cleaned up at someone else’s cost. The crime rate rises when they are there. They often commit criminal damage (breaking padlocks etc) to get onto land. They contribute zero to the public purse, except through VAT and fuel duty. If that is “cultural enrichment” in the eyes of the SNP then we can do without it and without the SNP.

    • Alan

      We can always do without the SNP.

  • Aaron D Highside

    Ask a police officer for an off-the-record opinion and you will discover whether or not gypsies pose a serious problem in no uncertain terms!

    • 3aple

      One of my team was a former policeman. A calm, steady, mild-mannered chap who said that when it came to this community, it was one of the few things Hitler got right.

  • What’s more saddening is that people believe that a Prime minister has that much power. Didn’t Jacob Rees Mogg recently attempt to correct the presenters of daytime television of this mistake?

    Prime Ministers in the UK are not heads of state. They are merely the first minister to the monarch.

  • Bik Byro

    I wonder if the woman who “hail[ed] the Gypsy traveller community as part of Scotland’s rich cultural heritage” has ever been culturally enriched by the crime wave of burglary and vandalism that seems to accompany every gypsy encampment followed by the massive clear-up operation that has to take place to clean up the mountain of junk they leave behind.

    • Good grief no! Not in my backyard thank you.

      • paul parmenter

        Don’t you just wish that the travelling community really would, quite literally, set up camp in the back gardens of all these people who blather on about how much they enrich the community.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Yes, yes, and thrice, yes.

        • paul parmenter

          Just a further thought that follows from my above suggestion. If such people decided to change their opinions about the virtues of letting travellers settle wherever they chose, and found their opinions moving somewhat closer to those of Douglas Ross, would they recognise themselves as racist bigots who needed to be silenced?

        • Colonel Mustard

          No.10 has a nice garden. In the interests of sharing the enrichment we all enjoy it is time Chairman May invited a travelling community to set up camp there.

        • Wish all you like, but unlike the rest of us they live in nice leafy open suburbs whereby the council protects them and police are quick react in their neighbourhood.

    • Nockian

      Problem is that logic is useless against a emotional virtue signaller who has literally given up on the mind the provide rational answers. Rich cultural heritage doesn’t mean anything other than diversity for diversities sake, it does not matter if it’s bad, because there is no bad or good to these people, just a feeling that this is how it must be. It is the sacrifice of freedom to enslavement because freedom has to be fought for on the logical plane, but enslavement is the renunciation of that mental fight, the acceptance that authoritarianism is easier than thinking.

      There are string pullers who know how to manipulate these people in order to gain power, but the rest are just fools who voluntarily gave up their independent minds for a slice of collectivist group think, to the unwavering obedience to an authority which will do all their thinking for them.

  • Colonel Mustard

    The sub-text is that it becomes impossible to call for the enforcement of the law or of compliance with the law where one of the left’s “protected” identity groups is involved for fear of accusations of racism from mainly third parties with an axe to grind. Therefore the rule of law is undermined, its impartial enforcement corrupted and we end up with the type of long running but ignored criminal behaviour in certain towns which has become such a national scandal.

    Unfortunately the high and the mighty administering all parts of the justice system have pandered to that and continue to do nothing about it because they are increasingly driven by the ideology of words rather than the need for good government. And by some accounts it is going to get worse under May.

  • UKCitizen

    More politicians should be aware that they are accountable to the electorate not other preening, virtue signalling career politicians.

  • Thomtids

    What is grim is that the Sports body concerned felt that his comment transgressed any “red line” and was not a bona fide matter of conversation (containing no unjustified adverse observation) and then admonished him. For what?
    We are paying a price for tolerating the behaviour of self-appointed “witch-finders” who as usual denounce innocent passers-by.
    The guilty party in this story is the Professional Body concerned that is clearly unfit for its purpose.

    • Simon Platt

      The people who run association football in this country have lost touch with reality.

      • Thomtids

        I thought the Government had displaced the sport’s own choices with the Government’s apparatchiks, you know, LGBT, wimmin, Moslem terrorists and unemployed Labour ex-ministers like Adonis.
        A classic demonstration of the old observation “Those whom the Gods would destroy first they make mad”. Mission accomplished.

  • JustAnotherPoster

    We are living in 1984 now. You literally can’t comment on things that you know are true……

  • UKCitizen

    We are all complicit in this.
    If your MP comes out with this PC nonsense then don’t vote for them.
    But because of our tribalism we just meekly vote for the career politician they stick in front of us.
    If you have no alternative vote for the independent and eventually the PC elite will start getting the message.

    • Simon Platt

      I’m not complicit with any of this.

      • UKCitizen

        I was referring to we as the voting public who unfortunately are fulfilling the saying “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy…”

    • Dominic Stockford

      People who are reasonable candidates need to stand who aren’t in the ‘main’ parties, which happens too infrequently. Then people need to vote for them, instead of behaving like sheep.

  • The Dowd

    Conservative Woman is totally in the wrong with this one, and irresponsibly tosses the “pc zealots” charge in order to inhibit wholly justified criticism of the poorly chosen words of Douglas Ross. All that Conservative Woman wants to do is enable aspersions to be cast against entire communities and groups of people and for it to go unchallenged. Most ‘gypsies and travellers” live in approved sites and abide by the law and Douglas Ross simply tarred all with the same brush.
    This would be no different to describing problems with English football hooligans as a problem with the English. They’re not the same thing.

    • The Sage

      I assume you are people ironic.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Regardless of where they live surely they should have the law enforced on them just as much as on anyone else?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Much of the modern political narrative already presents “a problem with the English”. That pretty much drove the agenda of New Labour. Where there isn’t overt sneering at any hint of English nationalism there is coerced guilt for a nation divided by multi-culturalism and collectively unrepresented in Parliament or anywhere else, let alone devolved.

      And the term “pale, male and stale” is used in that Parliament without any expressions of outrage despite being about as racist, sexist and ageist as can be. Brexit voters are collectively labelled “little Englanders” in the same “united” country where overt Scots and Welsh nationalism is actively promoted as a good thing.

    • paul parmenter

      Thankyou for an excellent example of how to wilfully misrepresent what someone has said, in order to create a pejorative slant on it. Even though I doubt if you were aware of what you were doing.

      “All that Conservative Woman wants to do is enable aspersions to be cast against entire communities and groups of people and for it to go unchallenged.” How on earth do you jump to that conclusion from the words of the article? It seems quite obvious to me that what CW actually wants to do is to challenge those who seek to close down contrary opinions that don’t fit with blinkered narratives. That is the whole drift of the article, and of many more on this site. Nowhere does it call for or even suggest that aspersions should be cast against entire communities. And since it does not do so, it can hardly be accused of wanting its non-existent call or suggestion to go “unchallenged”. You cannot challenge what is not there.

      And did Ross “simply tar all with the same brush”? No he didn’t. I have watched the video of the question and answer session, and can confirm that he simply gave a very brief response to a question thrown at him, that did not specify “all” gypsy travellers. In context, as Ross has himself since explained, he was referring to those who cause mischief in his constituency. I suggest that the people most likely to give gypsy travellers a bad name are not those who call out their disgusting behaviour when it happens, but those who behave disgustingly in the first place.

      But here is a great opportunity for you to prove us all wrong, and establish your tolerant and inclusive credentials as a lesson to the rest of us blinkered bigots. I cordially invite you to publish your home address and circulate it to your local gypsy traveller community, and assure them that you will give them a warm welcome if they choose to enrich you with their presence. You could even invite them to a garden-warming party. There wouldn’t be any need for you to provide them with alcohol; just tell them to bring their own. I am sure they would be happy to do so; although I do recommend you provide water for their dogs. After the party, you could then post some videos on Youtube showing how successful the whole event has been.

  • Simon Platt

    Good for Douglas Ross.

  • Nockian

    More tribalism. Socialists have never seen a tribe that they couldn’t call ‘oppressed’ by some other group, because that is their method to create authoritarian collectivism.

    In effect, it is an operation to shut down dissent and free speech which would allow the implementation of an authoritarian state, by creeping tacit agreement from the people, that such things as free speech is harmful to the common good. It relies on the emotional outrage of the liberals (the useful idiots), who fall over themselves in a mass display of virtue signalling intended to drown out rational thought and carry through a revolution.

    It shows just how far things have gone, that people in power lack the elements necessary for critical thinking, that they have given up on logic, given up on reason and free speech, resorting instead to the base nature of feelings and whims which are not tools of cognition, nor productive actions, but are the actions of a mindless mob intent on initiating violent force against anyone who dares to think.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The gradual transformation of certain words to become instruments of supposed “harm” is a cunning seizure of power by the left. We are getting close to a situation where any conservative narrative is considered “immoral”, “unacceptable” and borderline criminal. That is not evolutionary but part of a very deliberate agenda to control thinking and shut down dissent. They know what they are doing. The very fact that it is railed against online and even in the print media but continues nonetheless is evidence of that.

      The proliferation of mysteriously funded and sponsored campaign groups all pushing the same agenda is nothing short of sinister.

      • Nockian

        The Conservatives should have been getting their act together by now and realising that the single embracing concept containing all freedom, hence reason, hence life supporting values, is laissez faire capitalism. However their ‘social conservative’ values do not allow them to defend capitalism ethically and morally. Instead they attempt to use the idea that more wealth leading to the very utopia that socialists claim as being their legacy. They dismiss capitalism as a moral individual good and refer to it generally as a social collectivist good. The left claim the high ground from the scientific rational argument and all the Conservatives can do is to counter with faith, tradition and family values.

        Evil wins because the good refuses to stand up to it using reason, because good stops short of defending individual freedom and brokers compromises. Until conservatives learn that they cannot have their cake and eat it, that they need to defend individual freedom and rational selfishness over collectivism, authoritarianism and altruism, then evil will win again and again.

        If Conservatives claim the moral high ground, then they must claim laissez faire capitalism as the only moral good and be prepared to argue at a fundamental philosophical level why that is so. It means abandoning faith, tradition and family values as the argument because they have no connection to capitalism. The left have driven a wrecking ball through all of them, making a mockery out of Conservative claims that they are foundational. They cannot be foundational values if they can be broken so easily. When it comes down to it, the only thing people will fight for is their freedom as individuals, to their own lives and property. That is the foundation of capitalism and why it must be defended.

  • The Sage

    Yes, ask the honest burghers of Cromer about these delightful people and what boundless joy and pleasure they bring to the local community.

    • Mike Fowle

      What is slightly encouraging about Cromer was that the residents retaliated. Not with violence, but by calling the police to account. Leading police officers, who had dismissed their concerns as low level disturbances etc. have now admitted they were wrong, that their policing failed and that they now need to rebuild trust. It’s not much but it is something.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Laws should be equally enforced on all individuals, no matter their ‘background’.

    • TheRightToArmBears

      That’d be the day.

    • 3aple

      Tell that to Sandi Toksvig and The Women’s Equality Party.

  • Owen_Morgan

    That’s a good article, Mr Oliver, but you took a while to get to the real point:

    “Too many Leftist politicians cannot countenance there being any debate at all.”

    That, sadly, is the left’s standard attitude to those with the temerity to disagree: we are dismissed as “racists”, “deniers”, “xenophobes”, “islamophobes”. The point about these terms is that they are non-negotiable. The left will apply them without justification and then use them as shields, to deflect legitimate responses. Once you have dismissed your opponent as a “denier” (of anything), you can claim that debating with him is pointless. If you start out by characterizing a differing opinion as “racist”, or generically “-phobic”, you can claim that it is beyond the pale and unworthy of discussion.

    It’s cheap and stupid, but it’s lapped up by the mainstream media, because they are so wilfully ill-equipped to conduct intelligent interviews. Frankly, the only competent interviewer left in Britain seems to be Andrew Neil. John Humphrys, Sarah Montague, Emily Maitlis, Zeinab Badawi, Robert Peston, Andrew Marr, Kirsty Wark… Not only would none of those know the right question to ask, but every one of them will hide behind politically correct insults, rather than tackle the reality of a story.

    • lapped up by the mainstream media, because they are so wilfully ill-equipped to conduct intelligent interviews

      Neil Postman wrote that television is a poor medium for intelligent debate. It never has the time to fully explore themes and issues. Plus people who watch it are geared towards shorter attention spans.

      Andrew Neil has left Sunday Politics (still does the Daily).

  • CheshireRed

    I’ve had several contacts with these people and every single time has been horrendous. I once had a business on a trading estate which one evening had the pleasure of being visited by a dozen or so ‘travellers’. Oh, what a ray of sunshine they were. Within half an hour of the police leaving the site my car had a smashed window, and over the next week or so they dumped endless rubbish and unused tarmac spoil everywhere and used the entire site as an outside toilet. They were absolute filth and no, I’m not apologising for stating a self-evident truth.
    PS While local police were helpful senior decision-makers were not. They deliberately allowed ‘travellers’ to remain on each site for as long as legally possible to avoid the endless call-outs as they arrive at each new site which sent totally the wrong message.

  • Coniston

    Cannot those who are gravely disturbed by the relentless march of the PC agenda hit back by claiming that they are very deeply offended by so many PC remarks and statements, that this constitutes ‘hate crime’, and report this matter to the police. As I understand it, the police are bound to take action if anyone feels offended or reports a ‘hate crime’. If several thousand – or million – people do this the nature of ‘hate crime’ will be shown up for the utter nonsense it is.

    • Reborn

      Great suggestion.

  • Paul Williams

    Ah yes, the good old Macpherson report, one of the most ill judged and sanctimonious pieces of right on clap trap ever to be produced in this country. It is the standard bearer of cultural Marxism, and has been adopted and embraced by the entire establishment without a single utterance of criticism.

    When did we as a nation stop even questioning things we do not agree with? That’s what happens when a political ideology becomes a religion, as political correctness has become.

    • Simon Platt

      When the Macpherson report came out (the same day, I think), I heard the then Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, whose name I am happy to have forgotten, interviewed on the Home Service. The interview is so memorable that I can recall the short stretch of road along which I was travelling at the time. I still drive along there quite often, and am reminded of the copper’s idiocy when I do so.

      “Of course the police are institutionally racist. That’s inevitable because there’s racism in society. And we shan’t stop until there is no more racism in the police.”

      • Reborn

        The problem is that now “racist”is meaningless due to overuse & misuse.
        The most extreme perversion of the word I know comes from an
        American Association of Sociologists.
        They maintain that races don’t exist & race is a purely social construct.
        In other words, much like pc idiots describe gender.
        As I sit here I feel myself transitioning into a female African —

  • David Kane

    The McPherson Report and the Labour Party’s Criminal Justice Act 2003 (hate speech) have ushered in a new age of fear because the Tories have embraced both and have thus become mere seat warmers for the next leftward lurch by Labour. What the public cannot now be told is that almost ALL Muslims under the age of 30 are jihadists, as every poll taken on the issue shows (read: “2030: your Children’s Future in Islamic Britain” by David Vincent, Amazon and Kindle) Before the Internet came along the Koran, which instructs ALL Muslims to jihad was only available in Arabic with rare translations limited to scholars and theologians. Once a thorough translation into English found its way onto laptops and then a million Muslim smartphones, that’s when the new global jihad began, and it will NEVER end, not in another 1400 years. All we can do is save ourselves by ending all Muslim immigration and ensure that those who follow this “religion”/death cult are deported.

  • JohnInCambridge

    Travellers even when they stay briefly (i.e. the local authority is efficient at moving them on) almost always leave behind the most appalling mess and not infrequently commit crimes e.g steal electricity and water. In other words, their behaviour is incompatible with civilisation. It takes the lowest sort of political opportunist to use the imaginary virtues of travellers to attack a fellow politician. It also causes one to think again about political correctness. If there was a Satan and he wanted to mock the human race before destroying it he would create a ghastly parody of traditional morality with angry judgmentalism at its base rather than tolerance. In other words, political correctness.

  • Trojan

    Didicots

  • Steve Challenger

    Do the Travelling Community know they are being so warmly welcomed in Scotland? Is someone going to tell them?

  • PutinCooksSocks

    I identify as a traveler. And if you a part of a minority, you can’t be wrong or racist or prejudiced in any way.

    Therefore I can’t be wrong. And I think Douglas Ross is correct.

    That settles that.

  • Mar Lizaro

    Whatever label we ascribe to any subject the effect is eventually the same: we visualise the forbidden subject in our minds. The whole exercise is pointless. Just imagine we write ‘Gi**y’ instead of ‘Gipsy’!

  • Covenanter

    You’re all missing the point : the sub plot here is that those critical of indigenous gypsies aren’t likely to tolerate the immigrant hordes – least of all the omnipresent Slovak gypsies or the religion of you-know-what adherents. The liberal politicians live in their own comfortable bubble never to experience the “diversity” they extol for the rest of us and so it comes as a shock for them.

    PS: Ross apologised when he had nothing to apologise about.