CriticalDance Forum

Simone Clarke - called a "racist and a fascist"
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Author:  kurinuku [ Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Simone Clarke - called a "racist and a fascist"

BNP ballerina defies rising clamour to sack her
by HUGH MUIR for the Guardian
published: January 1, 2007

Officials from the English National Ballet faced calls to sack one of their leading dancers yesterday after Simone Clarke defied criticism and gave a detailed interview defending her support for the British National party.

Two weeks after she was named by the Guardian as a card-carrying member of the far right group, the ballerina hit out at her critics, voicing her belief that the BNP seemed to be the only party "willing to take a stand" against immigration.

Author:  Press-Article19 [ Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:38 am ]
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Simone Clarke’s recent ‘outing’ as a member of the far right political party the BNP (British National Party) is nothing short of a public relation disaster for her employers, the English National Ballet, Arts Council England and the company’s sponsors.

The inevitable calls for Ms Clark to be sacked were predictable and perhaps understandable considering the low level thinking employed by the BNP and its ludicrous political agenda.

Whatever we may think of Ms Clarke’s political affiliations however she must, under no circumstances, be sacked for expressing them. ... he_bnp.php

Author:  Tom Skelton [ Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:46 am ]
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Ms. Clarke certainly has the right to her political beliefs, as abhorrent as they may be. The concept of free speech is meaningless if it applies only to those with whom we agree. Her continued employment should be based on her abilities on stage and in the studio.

We place too much emphasis on the opinions of performers. A person's singing, acting, or dancing ability does not automatically imbue her/him with any deep insights.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:00 pm ]
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Whilst I have sympathy with the idea that it would be wrong to sack Clarke for her BNP membership, Article 19, in typical mud-slinging mode, this time against the Arts Council and "the suits", does not consider that Clarke was almost certainly in breach of contract with the ENB when she gave the "Sunday Mail" interview before consulting their Press Dept. I hope she gets off with a severe reprimand, this time.

One of my my fav Article 19 under-researched howlers was a diatribe against Emma Manning, the Editor of "Dance Europe", for whom I write, which concluded by urging the owners to consider her dismissal. Emma Manning is in fact also the owner of "Dance Europe".

Author:  ksneds [ Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:44 pm ]
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What really blows my mind is that Ms. Clarke's current/former partner, Yat-Sen Chang, with whom she has a daughter, is a recent immigrant. (He's Cuban born and of Chinese heritage.) Not to mention that many of Ms. Clarke's co-workers are immigrants. She's certainly not going to make herself popular in the rehearsal studio ...

We are entitled to freedom of speech - within the boundaries set by each government - , but I'm pretty sure that it doesn't guarantee that you will retain your job in all circumstances if you displease your employer. For instance, if one was employed by the Roman Catholic Church and then gave a public interview condemning the Pope, I think they'd show you the door pretty quickly. And one certainly could be fired for releasing confidential data, freedom of speech or not. Also, the extend of freedom of speech varies by country - I don't think racist or terrorist inducing speech is protected in the UK. In this case, since ENB receives some public money, one could suggest that Ms. Clarke has a responsibility to the public as well. And that she has a responsibility to maintain a proper working relationship with the other dancers...

That said, I think a reprimand as Stuart suggested is probably most appropriate. For I would agree with posters on other forums that Ms. Clarke seems to be very naive -- It's one thing to feel that immigration should be controlled, another to fall for the BNP's racist, bigoted claptrap. Especially when the father of your child and many of your workmates are immigrants. If she's so anti-immigration, how can she justify working with people who are immigrants? Not to mention that her published statements about immigration seem to suggest that her views aren't particularly controversal - she supports legal/work permit based immigration - just not "mass immigration". So why she she supports the BNP which is to the FAR right of this position is wierd


Author:  Tom Skelton [ Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:42 pm ]
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ksneds wrote:
We are entitled to freedom of speech - within the boundaries set by each government

The case could be made that we are entitled to free speech, period, and the extent to which governments set boundaries on it is the extent to which those governments are acting unethically; however, that's a topic that's beyond the scope of this forum.

I'm unaware of any countries in which legal guarantees of free speech apply to private employers, so ENB's obligation to respect Ms. Clarkes right to speak her mind is an ethical one, but not a legal one.

Author:  Press-Article19 [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:31 pm ]
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Stuart Sweeney wrote:
Whilst I have sympathy with the idea that it would be wrong to sack Clarke for her BNP membership, Article 19, in typical mud-slinging mode, this time against the Arts Council and "the suits", does not consider that Clarke was almost certainly in breach of contract with the ENB when she gave the "Sunday Mail" interview before consulting their Press Dept. I hope she gets off with a severe reprimand, this time.

So that would be constructive dismissal then!

Also, nice to know you're a writer for Dance Europe, so at least we know where you're at. We did try and find out who the owner of Dance Europe was to speak to them, ironically enough we asked Naresh Kaul but he refused to tell us, now we know why, thanks!

Author:  KANTER [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:27 am ]
Post subject:  Bullyboys

As it happens, the political views of the author of these lines do not, to put it mildly, cohere with those of the BNP.

But my own views are neither here nor there.

So far as I know, English National Ballet is not a political organisation.

Therefore, Simone Clarke's statements, bizarre or ill-informed as they may be, are of no concern to it.

My concern is that the Press may succeed in kicking up such a hellzapoppin' ruckus over this, that her employer, ENB, may find itself pushed into a corner by a lynch-mob, and declare her "disruptive". And on that basis, fire her.

At the end of the day, WHO, precisely, is being unethical here?

To my mind, the Press.

If I understand this whole thing aright, it was The Guardian - unethically, in my view - that has chosen to "out" Miss Clarke, by undercover work that used to be called "spying".

Prior to that, at least so far as we know, the ballerina posed no problem of any kind, whether to her colleagues, or to ENB.

As a subject of her Brit. Maj. myself, it seems to me that there are domestic perpetrators of corruption, on the highest level, and domestic perpetrators of gross breaches of international law, on the highest level, who might be a timely subject for investigation by The Guardian's guardians of public morality.

And as a legal beagle myself, I am extremely dubious about this entire business of Hate Crimes and the attendant legislation, which takes us into the Not-Unknown area of Thought Crime, with everyone barking up everyone else's tail.

Might one recall where that took us, in the 1930s?

The upshot, is a cowed and intimidated society of forelock tuggers.

Is that what we want? Or have we, perhaps, already got there?

Put another way, kicking someone when they are down, is fun and easy. Taking on the bullyboys, quite another - have we yet the stomach for it.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:47 am ]
Post subject: 

Anonymous (Article 19) wrote:

So that would be constructive dismissal then!

From the Citizen's Advice website:

Constructive dismissal occurs if you resign because your employer breaches the employment contract, by taking action such as cutting your pay, changing your working conditions, and so on, and so makes it impossible for you to continue working.

I fail to see how this could apply to a possible breach of contract by an employee.

Author:  Press-Article19 [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:05 am ]
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It could certainly be applied in this case. Sacking the dancer for a possible breach of contract, talking to the press to, I assume, defend herself since there is no record of the article on that newspapers website.

It would be very obvious to all but the most cerebrally challenged that Ms Clarke was being pushed out of the door for the bad PR ENB and ACE (and probably SKY) are getting from this story.

ergo: constructive dismissal.


(I'm not anonymous, I had another account with my name on it but it vanished when you switched forums)

update: we found the interview in the 'Daily Mail'! ... =1770&ct=5

Author:  salzberg [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:47 am ]
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This is turning into a very interesting thread and some good points have been raised.

I will, however, remind all involved of the criticaldance Courtesy Policy, which mandates that we treat each poster with respect and refrain from calumny and condemnation -- no matter how much the twerp deserves it.

Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Executive Director

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Jan 10, 2007 4:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

Not being familiar with the British polical parties or with British laws I feel I can't comment on this situation specifically, but I can relate my own experiences.

A company I worked for had very strict rules about talking to the media. I inadvertantly breached those rules. I was formally reprimanded. My breach was nothing that caused my employers any embarassment and did not make any ripple of effect in the wider media, but still I was reprimanded.

I would think that negative publicity such as this would merit some kind of reprimand if the company has rules against such things as mine did. A reprimand could take many forms though.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:47 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for describing your own experiences LMCtech.

Over the past 20 years or so, the far right has had far less success in the UK than in countries such as France, Italy and especially Austria. But the new BNP under Nick Griffiths is more canny than previous incarnations and strives to project itself as a mainstream party with appeal across the class spectrum, which makes it more dangerous. It has had successes in local elections and has won some council seats.

Here's a gem from the BNP website in response to the airport emergency last August:

The British National Party Executive's to ban immediately, ALL MUSLIMS from flying out of (and in to) Britain until the security situation has been fully resolved.

Nick Griffith's "The Rune" denies the Holocaust and Mark Collett, leader of the young BNP was shown on TV saying: “I honestly cant understand how a man who’s seen the inner city hell of Britain today cant look back on that era [Hitler’s Germany] with a certain nostalgia.” He remains a full-time party worker.

This really is a party with a public face and a private one.

Clarke's political affiliations came as a surprise to me as virtually all of the dance people I meet are liberals. I hope she keeps her job, despite the likely breach of contract involved with the Sunday Mail interview.

Nevertheless, her unpleasant affiliation means that I will exercise my freedom of expression and avoid her performances.

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:37 am ]
Post subject: 

It’s just so bloody inconvenient, this democracy business, you allow people to vote (even dancers) and then they go and vote for the wrong party. Doh!

Personally I’m with Voltaire when it comes to freedom of speech and just to balance things out rather, the last time I heard a dancer holding forth on politics it was Angelin Preljocaj at Sadlers Wells publicly voicing his disapproval of Jean Marie Le Pen.

I seem to remember the last time the media infiltrated the BNP it resulted in two costly trials at which the BNP leader and his deputy were eventually acquitted, I would have thought the Guardian might have learnt something from this: apparently not.

To describe a woman who lives with, and indeed has a child by, a man of mixed race as a racist is ludicrous and although as Stuart rightly points the BNP is enthusiastically re-inventing itself as a respectable main stream political party, its unsavoury beginnings remain fresh in the memory of most of us. For all that I would not brand the majority of BNP supporters as fascists: most are working class people denied a voice since their traditional representatives, the Labour party, metamorphosed into New Labour and decided to follow a Thatcherite agenda. Elect a BNP councillor and the camera crews will turn up on your decaying inner city doorstep the next morning and if you are lucky your immediate problems may be partially resolved by a central government grant. In other words the party is a canny choice for those wanting to register a protest vote.

The other people ‘outed’ in the original article don’t seem to have attracted the same press attention as Simone Clarke. From a political point of view I would be far more interested in the thoughts of the pair with royal connections.

This later article puts the whole affair into perspective, but the pseudo balletic references made me cringe. I suppose it’s my advanced age or something but is it too much to expect measured prose from today’s journalists? ... e_continue

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:05 pm ]
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Hmmm, Mr. Griffiths sounds like a British David Duke. How fun for you. :roll:

I do think it is not wise for dancers to get involved in politics. They really don't seem to grasp how words work having very little training in it. Most of the dancers I have known simply do not understand that you must be very careful and very clear in what you say to the media.

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