You may remember one of the highlights of the National Rejoin March back in September was the spectacular performance of Dance Europa! As reported earlier this was an inspired way to highlight the plight of a Britain outside Europe. However it was marred by a vindictive piece by Michael Deacon in the Telegraph. Here we present the correspondence with the Telegraph and the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and an interview on Swindon 105.5.
Letter to the Telegraph from Swindon for Europe
The article published on the Telegraph website titled “The ‘rejoin the EU’ campaign has just one problem: Its supporters are insufferable” (26th Sept 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/09/26/rejoin-the-eu-campaign-problem-supporters-insufferable/), is offensive, homophobic, inaccurate and has lead to harassment of the dance group depicted in the article.
It goes against IPSO editorial standards:
clause 1 Accuracy – the commentator made no attempt to understand what the dancing group was trying to achieve or what they were even doing, simply giving his flawed and ignorant analysis as fact. He references pirouetting and ‘like a ballerina’, when that was never done in the clip he’s referring to (simply normal “turns”, a common move in dance), fails to understand the central dancer is 65, has two hip replacements, does not look like a ballerina, or effeminate, but was simply dancing with his wife, friends and family. The author also assumes the thoughts of the central dancer – how does he know what the dancer was thinking? The author is also clearly ignorant of dance given that the pasodoble steps in the clip must be danced seriously, and passionately by the male dancer. The article also essentially puts words in the dancers’ mouths with the comment “as John Lennon never wrote a song called Power to Our Kind of People, Not Those Thick Racist Northern Gammon Who Don’t Know What’s Good for Them, I suppose they just had to make do.” implying that the group thinks that people from the north of England are “thick”, “gammons” and racist – simply not true, and doubly unlikely given that one of the dancers is from Yorkshire. The author also incorrectly assumes that the purpose of the dance was to convert people to support rejoining the EU: it wasn’t. It was simply a celebration of European (and British) culture (there is a whole section of English hornpipe and morris dancing in their other videos), using colours and symbols of our continent (which we remain a part of, not solely used by the political entity of the EU), intended to inspire and raise the spirits of our colleagues on the march. The article also implies that no one would want to see this and that group shouldn’t perform – which is just incorrect, in that they’ve done performances in Swindon and raised thousands of pounds for Ukrainian refugees, working with Ukrainian refugee dancers on a number of dances including those from Ukraine Georgia, England and Bavaria. These were not “elite” people from the so-called ‘M25 bubble’, but just normal, everyday working people from Swindon.
clause 3 Harassment – the article singles out and ridicules one member of the group, and has led to a pile-on on social media with people making serious accusations, and homophobic comments, including calling the central dancer a “nonce”.
clause 12 discrimination – references “pirouetting like a ballerina” a homophobic reference, ignorant and incorrect, attempting to dismiss the group because we seem too effeminate. In the clip there were simply “turns”: a standard part of dance, by both male and female dancers.
This kind of malicious and inaccurate cartooning and othering of a whole section of society, simply because they’re pro-EU membership is dangerous. It is tantamount to incitement of potentially violent people to target them.
Dr Sam Hollings
Secretary of Swindon for Europe. European Movement member.
Response from Swindon for Europe
The complaint wasn’t upheld. We consider the Telegraph article to be an example of culture-war bullying of ordinary citizens by the UK establishment. If we’d have been wearing Union Jacks they’d have thought us wonderful.
Steve Rouse (one of the dancers) says:
Shirley Ludford (Station Manager Swindon 105.5) defended the article text as “descriptive”. But it was falsely descriptive. Deacon describes me as “pirouetting like a ballerina”. I don’t look anything like a ballerina – look at my ‘luv handles’! He is just scoring a political point by attacking us personally like in football “going for the man instead of the ball”. It is interesting to note that Deacon used to write for a ‘Lads Mag’, and is being employed to write like a white collar thug, albeit in a sophisticated way. A bit like Johnson bullying and dominating with put downs in the Eton students union bar.
The Telegraph is still regarded and trusted by many as the pinnacle of serious, staid and conservative comment by many. Apart from some right-wing thug on Facebook making accusations of “dancing like a remainer ‘Nonce’ (a dangerous accusation)”, shouldn’t we be able to expect better from our mainstream media?
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