UKIP Councillor Refuses Council-Enforced 'Equality' Training After Free Market Dispute
In a 'two-fingers up to the establishment' gesture, UKIP councillor Donna Rachel Edmunds has shot back at her local authority's insistence that she needs "equality training" following her claim that business owners should not be forced to serve anyone they don't want to.
In the battle of liberty versus state-imposed "equality", Ms Edmunds contested that "all business owners, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, should be allowed to withhold their services from whomever they chose whenever they chose. It’s their business. Why should they be forced to serve or sell to anyone?”
But the bureaucrats from the local authority on which she serves as an elected representative of the people tried to claim that Ms Edmunds had fallen foul of their code of conduct, and the Equality Act of 2010, simply by making these statements. A political opponent of Ms Edmunds made a complaint against her, which was upheld without Ms Edmunds's testimony or rebuttal first.
Lewes District Council instead appointed three anonymous people to rule against Ms Edmunds in her absence, informing her only when they had decided that she must "attend equalities training for councillors to gain a better understanding of the Council’s equality obligations," even though they admitted she had broken no laws or rules.
They said: "In accordance with the procedure adopted by the Council’s Standards & Audit Committee the complaint was referred to a 3 member Panel for an initial decision as to whether the complaint should be investigated."
But Ms Edmunds has now shot back, informing the council that she would attend no such training course, and calling the council's actions "bullying".
She wrote, in a letter seen by Breitbart London: "Thank you for your letter, dated 24th April, and copied into this email.
"This is the first notice I have had that a complaint and accusation have been made against me. The letter does not state who sat on this panel, nor what evidence the panel was shown. I was certainly not able to give the three Councillors who sat on the panel (whoever they may be) any context or explanation for my comments. The comments made were grossly misrepresented in the Argus article, so if that is all the evidence the Councillors had to go on, it was not a fair proceeding.
"If I had been asked, I would have told you that I in no way condone discrimination of any kind, and went out of my way to make that point to the reporter I spoke to - who of course ignored me, because it didn't fit his story. My point was that business owners should be free to choose their own customer base. Gay hoteliers are able to proclaim their lodgings a gay-only establishment, and rightly so. By the same token, Christian hoteliers should be able to welcome Christians exclusively if they want to - although this is deemed 'discriminatory' and outlawed. Jewish shop owners should be able to refuse to serve neo-Nazis if they want, but under current law may well not be able to. To single particular groups out for preferential treatment may adhere to the politically correct, new-speak definition of 'equality', but it certainly does not adhere to the dictionary definition, which is "the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities." It is the latter which I use and will continue to use.
"My views are perfectly legitimate and I am entitled to them. It is not up to [council staff] to publicly and openly criticise them. Those who do not agree with me and instead adhere to the politically correct definition of equality are entitled to do so - but to critise [sic] me publicly in this matter is a political decision, which is explicitly way outside the remit of officers duties.
"Therefore I thank you all for your judgement of me, undertaken without my knowledge or any opportunity to defend myself, but I'm afraid I have to completely reject your conclusion. I have not discriminated against anyone personally. I have not condoned anyone who has. I am perfectly happy and content that I have not broken any equality legislation. I see no need for any 'training'. I will not be attending equality training - or, as I call it - indoctrination. I will consider any further attempt by the council to make me attend to be nothing short of bullying. We do not live in a fascist state quite yet."
Lewes Council issued a somewhat neutered statement after receiving Ms Edmunds's letter: "As a matter of course, the council offers regular training – including equalities training – to both staff and councillors. Whilst we strongly urge all councillors to attend the training provided, it is a matter for each individual councillor to decide what courses they go to.”