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Artillery Row

Cancelled by the Federation of Small Businesses for questioning BLM

‘I was hounded out of an organisation that is supposed to be pro-business by advising against celebrating a movement that wants to dismantle capitalism’

I was cancelled as the Federation of Small Businesses’s South West National Councillor towards the end of 2020. My crime was “wrong speak” on the region’s internal WhatsApp group. Or as the Chair, Mike Cherry, and the Board put it, for “conduct likely to bring the FSB into disrepute”.

What was my crime? In response to the Black Lives Matter protests happening in England in June, I sent a message to an internal WhatsApp group pointing out that only 163 people had died in police custody in the UK in the last 10 years and that 140 were white, 10 black and 13 other ethnicities. I also made the point that disadvantaged white boys in England were less likely to go into further education than disadvantaged black boys.

“Does only BLM or should all lives matter?” I asked. “Are only white people racist? Sorry to burst the moral outrage bubble, but FSB should be careful how it handles its response.”

I do not believe FSB members are aware of how politicised and intolerant the people who run it have become

Immediately, the Exeter Area Lead in Devon, a white middle-aged man, accused me of being a racist. He asked me in the group: ­“was I saying that… all that stuff about BLM deaths due to coronavirus was probably all made up and there is nothing wrong with a bit of slavery?” It was hard to make head or tail of his accusation – BLM deaths? – but I had obviously said nothing of the kind. He then immediately left the WhatsApp group and made a formal complaint to the Regional Chair and Board. I assumed it would be dismissed, but within days there followed a letter from the director attached to the region asking me to resign. I declined.

As a proud Cornishman, I am aware of my own local history of slavery which seems to have been lost in the understanding and teaching of British history. Whole Cornish villages were taken into slavery and sold in Africa between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. This prompted numerous rescues by the Royal Navy, including in one such endeavour, the emancipation of six thousand white European slaves at an African slave market. I’m not fan of slavery.

FSB has a handbook of policies and procedures for volunteers, including protocols for dismissal, but none of these were followed in my case. There was a sham investigation by one of the directors who chose not to respond or acknowledge the many phone calls, emails, and text messages of support from the majority of the National Councillors and SW Area Leads. This included the South West BAME representative, who I had supported in raising funds towards the BAME regional awards held in Bristol. He said I had said nothing wrong or contentious.

My role at the FSB was a voluntary one, although I was paid expenses and a small consultancy fee. I actually run my own business in the care sector, and now that I have gone the FSB has no volunteer role with expertise in this sector, which is a pity given we’re in the midst of a national health emergency in which care homes have been badly affected.

I have been a member of the FSB for 18 years, a Cornwall Branch Chair, the first greater SW Regional Chair (covering the Isles of Scilly to Gloucestershire), and more recently a SW National Councillor, whose primary purpose is to scrutinise the board. The main aim of the FSB is to lobby the government, which it’s extremely good at, as well as providing a package of services and benefits.

Besides having been in business most of my working life, I have a BSc Politics degree, so I enjoyed being able to combine the two in my various roles within the FSB. Now that I have gone, there is nobody on the FSB board or council that has any training in politics, either.

The FSB has been captured by the woke cult

I still believe the FSB is a fantastic organisation that does tremendous work on behalf of small businesses. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues have told me they believe the National Chair and Board have been completely captured by the woke cult and won’t tolerate any dissent from their hard left agenda. I do not believe the FSB members who fund the organisation are aware of how politicised and intolerant the people who run it have become.

It seems extraordinary, but I was hounded out of the organisation that is supposed to be pro-business for cautioning a group of high-ups not to celebrate a movement that wants to dismantle capitalism.

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