Anne Morris may have every right to say ‘the n-word’, but that doesn’t mean she should have

This isn’t ‘political correctness gone mad’, this is racism

By now everyone knows that a Tory MP by the name of Anne Marie Morris “let slip” – or, more likely, consciously and in full knowledge of the racist implications of what she was saying – the “common saying” – did anyone NOT Google the term she used to see what it meant? – “nigger in the woodpile”.

She used the phrase in relation to leaving Brexit negotiations with no deal. In plain English, the phrase Morris used means “a fact of considerable importance which has not been disclosed”. So whilst she could have said something like “leaving Brexit negotiations with no deal would be a disaster”, she instead decided to use a dated, racist quip to express herself.

And you know what? She had every right. That’s what makes it so appalling. The Britain we live in isn’t the Orwellian Britain found in 1984 – we are blessed enough to have freedom of speech, a necessity for intellectual and emotional discussion of any kind. This woman had the liberty to choose any string of words in the English language to express her sentiment, and this is what she chose.

Some far-right nuts might claim all the baying for Morris’ blood is “political correctness gone mad”. But shouldn’t it matter if a politician isn’t politically correct? That’s not to say MPs ought to tread on eggshells and tiptoe around hard-hitting truths, but for a woman in a position such as Morris’ to come out with such a politically-charged, downright racist word, is unacceptable. Whilst the meaning behind the saying is just “an undisclosed fact”, an English Literature-style close reading of the phrase cannot be ignored. Comparing a concealed pest to black person is, undeniably, racist.

We shouldn’t ban “the n-word”. Let it be used by people such as Anne Marie Morris, and let there be the uproar we are seeing now. If we were to ban the word, we’d forget why we banned it in the first place. Let sloppy, careless people like Anne Marie Morris bandy the word about without giving a damn about its viciously, viciously racist origins, and let people shout about it. Let them remember why the word creates such pure, concentrated anger. Anne Marie Morris wholly deserves her suspension from the Tory party: she had the freedom to choose a different word. She brought this upon herself.