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Former Council Leader Labels Language Guide as ‘Woke Nonsense’ But Coalition Partners Don’t Agree

Published on: 8 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 8 Oct, 2022

By Martin Giles

A guide sent to all councils by the Local Government Association advising them to ditch “mum and dad”, homeless and avoid using words such as “expat” and “deprived neighbourhoods” has quickly been withdrawn for review following “feedback”.

Joss Bigmore the leader of R4GV at Guildford Borough council agreed with others who have told the LGA that the guide was woke and patronising but other parties including R4GV’s coalition partners are supportive or less critical of the motives behind the withdrawn guide.

Cllr Bigmore said: “If this is the sort of woke nonsense that the LGA thinks Local Authorities should be focusing on, given the very real issues we currently face, I seriously question our [GBC’s] ongoing membership. What a load of patronising nonsense.”

Guildford Labour Secretary, Amanda Creese commented: “I think we all now realise that the language we use is very important. Obviously, no official should use language which is offensive, abusive or discriminatory and they should always use language which makes everyone feel they belong – it is about being mindful of their audience.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “The Liberal Democrat councillor group isn’t aware of any official Language Guide at GBC, but we think it is right that the LGA should be producing non-obligatory guidance on ways councils can use language which better reflects the diversity of 21st-century Britain.

“Not all children have a ‘mum and dad’ for instance. Some have two mums or two dads and some may only have one parent, whilst some are in care and do not live with a relative. Similarly, it’s inaccurate to label an entire community, not least because doing so ignores that all people are individuals with unique circumstances.

“Inclusive language costs nothing and we are proud to be part of a team that recognises its importance.”

The guide had been withdrawn before it could be viewed by The Dragon but according to the Daily Telegraph other phrases that the 18-page Inclusive Language Guide told councils to avoid the use of “ladies and gentlemen”, “expat”, “deprived neighbourhoods”, “second generation”, “lifestyle choice” or “economic migrant”.

Instead, the guide encouraged “positive language” such as “birthing parent”, “same-sex relationship/family”, “partners”, “non-UK nationals” and “people experiencing disadvantage or poverty”.

The message on the Local Government Association’s website saying that the guide had been withdrawn.

The document recommended 12 principles for councils to follow including “respecting people from marginalised and minoritised backgrounds” and recognising that “intention does not always align with impact”.

Mark Lloyd, the chief executive of the LGA, is reported to have emailed the new rules to all councils in England and Wales.

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Responses to Former Council Leader Labels Language Guide as ‘Woke Nonsense’ But Coalition Partners Don’t Agree

  1. John Lomas Reply

    October 8, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    The writers of this document are, no doubt, also thinking the same way as those who have banned blackboards, red pen corrections, and the Oxford comma.

    • George Potter Reply

      October 8, 2022 at 11:28 pm

      Remarkably, not a single one of the items listed by Mr Lomas has been banned.

      This is why it’s rarely wise to rely on the hysteria of the right-wing press for one’s perception of reality.

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough and county councillor

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 9, 2022 at 10:05 am

    All this “woke” nonsense has gone too far.

    The council should actually do some work; answer their phones, get the verges cut back, repair the roads, build council houses, particularly on brownfield sites, keep the public loos open, reduce rates on shops to stop so many closures, ensure there are sufficient Park & Ride buses, reduce parking charges to encourage people to come to Guildford, and stop wasting our council tax on pointless consultations and producing these proselytising documents.

    We should be able to use the English language that has developed over centuries. What is wrong with breasts, parents, mother, father, disabled, blind? They are all good English words.

  3. Brian Creese Reply

    October 9, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    I often find “woke” is a phrase used with little thought to its meaning or context. I would be really interested to hear Cllr Bigmore’s definition of the word.

    Brian Creese is chair of the Guildford Labour Party

  4. Vat Smith Reply

    October 9, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    Anyone councillor who supports this sort of woke nonsense won’t be getting my vote.

    • Andrew Calladine Reply

      October 12, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      What does Woke mean? It’s a word bandied around as a buzz word, but most people use it have no idea of its origin or what it really means.

      • Stuart Barnes Reply

        October 13, 2022 at 9:24 am

        The answer to Andrew Calladine’s question is that it means more left-wing nonsense, as peddled by such organisations as the BBC/Guardian, etc.

  5. Barbara Ford Reply

    October 12, 2022 at 5:38 pm

    Its meaning has evolved. To 1930s black Americans”stay woke” meant “be vigilant against racially-motivated attack”, but in the 2020s in the rest of the English-speaking world and in many situations “woke” has become a pejorative term, meaning “following an intolerant and moralising ideology” or even just “very bad”.
    Do look it up on Wikipedia, which has a fascinating article on the subject.

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