Thirty years go
A look through Community Care for March 1978 reveals stories that today would attract the attention of inspector opprobrium of the politically correct police.
“Expulsion threat over blacked job” screams the headline about social workers who applied for a post that was being “blacked” by the union. Of course, “blacking” referred to a job that was being boycotted and not a role in the Black and White Minstrel Show. Apparently the national boycott was because the comrades were angry at the recruitment process – the job was advertised in the national press before internal interviews were held, which is all best practice in 2008.
Meanwhile, Strathclyde Council escaped a telling off from female councillors because it helped four women into top positions (this is beginning to sound like a Carry On script. What next, Babs Windsor as Denise Platt?). The “fairer sex”, as the story says, was well represented in Strathclyde’s top echelons. A social work department under suspicion for not promoting women to senior management, Heaven forfend?
Finally, minister for the disabled Alf Morris was launching an inquiry into an “exploitation film”. Not a movie featuring private dick John Shaft helping the vulnerable but rather a TV investigation about – readers of a sensitive nature should avert their eyes – “handicapped” workers receiving poor pay. These days Remploy gets government backing for making disabled workers redundant. Anything is possible with the right terminology
Twenty years ago
Some of this un-PCness was still with us in 1988. A video entitled “So you think you know all about Aids and safer sex” (£34.45 for VHS or £45.95 for the enigmatic Umatic format) earned the ire of our reviewer. Using young people to explore Aids issues, the video was “heterosexist by omission” for failing to have any homosexual characters. Then the video showed a couple kissing while the voice over discusses oral sex. “A non-pornographic representation could surely have been devised” says our reviewer. Maybe the Flake advert could have been given an outing again. But it was praised for the diagrams on condom use, while the producers were applauded for having their finger on the pulse – and I hope that’s where it stayed.
Fifteen years ago
Our eyes are drawn to a story about disability minister Sir Nicholas Scott who was trying unsuccessfully to cut the independent living fund. Scott, who died in 2005, was once, surprisingly, tipped by Time magazine as a future world leader. But then he lied in parliament to sabotage an opposition bill to help disabled people, crashed a car into a man and a three-year old child before absconding, and was found face down in a gutter worse for wear at Conservative Party conference. Even his daughter Victoria, who was a lobbyist for a disability group, called for his sacking. His obituaries said he was a kind, “colourful” character, which is parliamentary speak for being a buffoon (see Boris Johnson). Apparently, Thatcher gave him the social security portfolio as revenge for supporting Ted Heath.
After being convicted of drink driving, Scott was deselected from the safe seat of Kensington and Chelsea and replaced by ageing lothario and militant vegetarian Alan Clark. Clark died two years after his triumphant return to the House of Commons (where he was also lauded as a “colourful” character) and was replaced by Michael Portillo, who was selected after admitting gay experiences when young, being the son of left-wing foreigner and having black Labour MP Diane Abbot as a friend.
And that, dear readers, shows the progress we’ve made in 30 years.