One of the members of the British Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee -- which will interrogate Rupert Murdoch next week on allegations his companies illegally accessed peoples’ phone records – has a long history of making controversial, inflammatory remarks, particularly about blacks, Islam, crime, poverty and immigration.
Conservative backbencher Philip Davies, who represents Shipley in West Yorkshire, considers himself a one-man warrior against “political correctness”.
For example, Davies once sent a series of bizarre letters with Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (who is black).
In one letter from last April, Davies wrote: “Is it offensive to black up [as done in old minstrel shows] or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person?
In another, he asked: “Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this.
A spokesman for the Commission responded: There are many writings produced by scholars about blacking up, arguing that minstrel shows lampoon black people in derogatory ways, and many people clearly find blacking up to portray minstrels or black people offensive.
Davies explained he wrote the letters because he was opposed to “positive discrimination.”
He once told reporters: “Anybody who follows my career in parliament knows I'm concerned with the issue of political correctness. I'm merely pursuing a subject I raise more regularly than anyone else in parliament. It's one of my bugbears. Lots of people are castigated for being racist when that's not their intention. That builds up a resentment that doesn't exist before.”
Davies also complained that Britain’s Channel 4 hires too many minority employees at the expense of white people. He noted that while ethnic minorities make up only 8 percent of the British public, 12 percent of the television station’s staff are black or Asian, suggesting the TV companies hired according to quotas rather than on merit.
Davies reportedly told the Channel’s executives: “You’re not a London broadcaster, you are a national broadcaster. It seems to me that among your figures the people who are under-represented at Channel 4 are white people not ethnic minorities. It seems a bit bizarre that an organization that is over-representative of ethnic minorities should be trying to do more of these things. What about white people -- are you not interested in employing white people?'
Among other incidents, Davies has said that disabled people should be allowed to work for below minimum wage. He demanded that Britain pull out completely from the European Union. He has also intimated he would like to see an increase in the prison population.
In 2007, Davies reportedly asked Muslims to fly the Union Jack flag on mosques to express their commitment to Britain
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.