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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 18:14 GMT
'Fascist' row: Your views
Dr Richard Simpson
Dr Simpson resigned over the comments
The Scottish minister with responsibility for the fire service has resigned following reports that he described firefighters as "fascist bastards".

Before his resignation was announced, we asked for your views on the controversy. A number of them are included below.


Funny but I always thought we lived in a country were you should be able to say what you thought. If the firefighters want they may sue for slander, it is not the job of government to police opinions. It also seems out of place for such a vocal man, like Tommy Sheridan, should be so harshly judging another.
Stephen McFadden, Scotland

I would like to ask these people (including the ones who have replied to this survey) to get their facts right before commenting. My partner (a firefighter)is a caring, and generous person and I think he if far from either of these descriptions. I would like to know when any of these people against the fire service put their lives on the line for others, or indeed if they will have a change of heart next time their loved ones are in need of help from the fire service.
Lisa, GB

I know a few firefighters, that have both fathers and are not fascists!
Richie Fuller, GB

To all of those who are happy to insult and use abusive language to describe these genuinely heroic men & women: I take it you won't be wanting them to risk their own lives to rescue you or your families? Or you wouldn't be abusing them? At least Tommy Sheridan pointed out that MPs were happy to award themselves a 40% pay rise a couple of years ago without expecting it to destabilise the economy etc. etc.
mark mcewan, scotland

I have heard a lot worse language from 'Rock on Tommy 'Sheridan. I should know as I was in his politics class at Stirling University and the complete drivel he used to pronounce then is unrepeatable! Still now he's part of the property owning bourgeoisie he's not quite so keen on a Stalinist State any more!
Jeff Lewis, Scotland

Mr Sheridan should take off his blinkers and listen to what was actually said. Mr Simpson was only quoting what a member of the public had said. If we were to think that all of Mr Sheridan's quotes were his own words he would have disappeared a long time ago.
Douglas Stark, Scotland

It seems not politically correct these days to suggest that you disagree with the fire strike and to be in a position where you cannot even quote other people's criticism of the Fire strike without been heavily condemned is ridiculous. We live in a time of great economic stability and low unemployment, why should we just sit back and let the unreasonable and greedy demands of a hard-working but not irreplaceable group jeopardise that stability. If the fire brigade are as professional as they keep saying they are then they should get back to work, save lives and modernise like the rest of us.
Jonathan, England

Get a grip! This isn't a newsworthy story - it is just another distraction from trying to sort out this dispute. A waste of media time and certainly a waste of the Scottish Parliament's time.
Colin, UK

Unless I am mistaken, Mr Simpson was probably quoting the remarks of the first hoax caller to be prosecuted in Scotland during the first strike action who called 999 three times to register his disgust at the "fascist bastards" (widely reported at the time). For someone to try and make political capital out of this is beyond me - another triumph of spin over substance.
Keith, Scotland

Simpson is obviously guilty of poor judgement and to use such an expression about heroes and heroines like that is unacceptable. He must be reprimanded
Dave Scott, Scotland

I read at the weekend that Mr Simpson referred to the firefighters are the same type of protectionist fascists that supported Mussolini and that "we" should never give in to the bastards. Granted, he may not have used the words "fascist" and "bastard" together; but from the report in Scotland On Sunday the implication was clearly there. Whilst this may not be a resigning issue (I'm sure similar things are being said in No.10), Sheridan would be failing in his duty as an opposition MSP to highlight this type of behaviour.
Andy, Scotland

Richard Simpson should be sacked along with any other Minister who uses such language. I have not seen the likes of Richard Simpson saving many lives. In the whacky world of New Labour anyone who disagrees with them are "fascists". They are not socialists anymore they are "National Socialists"!
David MacGregor, UK

Fantastic! Maybe I shouldn't laugh, but it's definitely one of the best descriptions of the strikers to date! After all, given that builders actually have a more dangerous job (statistically) than firemen, and given that the median wage of the country is 23K, words like 'fascist' and 'capitalism' are the best used to describe the FBU and its members. So much for the theory that unions were left-leaning groups, there to support the workers and look for a more even distribution of wealth. Perhaps we need a decent socialist party in this country....
Phil Evans, Keele, UK

He meant "socialist bastards" surely, not "fascist ones". Can't imagine Hitler would have been too keen on legitimate public protests!
Graham, Scotland

Richard Simpson should be ashamed of himself! He may think he's wriggled out of it, but he's betrayed the private views of the Labour establishment. I hope trades unionists are paying attention.
Danny Roy, Scotland

At last! Someone saying what they really think about these supposedly poor firefighters. I congratulate the minister responsible and recommend that he is elevated into office even further. Mr Sheridan, the days when you and the rest of the fascist left-wing dinosaurs can bring this country to its knees are over!
Robert Roberts, England

Fascist? Certainly not. But I think it sums up the frustration of the population as we all wait for the outcome.
Andrew, UK

It seems that Richard Simpson has explained the context of the statement and frankly I don't know what the fuss is all about. I wasn't at the dinner and I take it neither were those who have made comments so what basis do they have for believing Mr Sheridan's claims? More importantly, I wonder just how Tommy Sheridan believes this dispute will be resolved by this misleading and cheap political stunt? Most taxpayers in this country would be far happier if instead of the current attempts to get the best spin in the media, the FBU and local authority employers and politicians such as Mr Sheridan imposed a gagging order on themselves and put their energies in to telling the negotiators to get back round the table and only speak to the press when they have came to an agreement.
Colin Smyth, Scotland

So what was "fascist bastards" meant to mean then ? How can this phrase be taken out of context?
Paul, Wales

I am fed up of these union leader nonentities mouthing off. This is a political strike and the firemen can't see they are being used.
R Robinson, England

I don't agree with what he said, I support the firefighters, but whatever happened to free speech?
Thomas, UK

When driving a Green Goddess in '77 I was called a lot worse by the striking firefighters. I guess if the cap fits you wear it, otherwise you get on with your job and stop whinging.
Sam, England

Right wing extremists of dubious parentage? There's one in every crowd, but perhaps Mr Simpson should be more cautious about broadcasting generalisations.
Chris B, England

As usual Sheridan is mouthing off about nothing. The man is a publicity seeking fool who cares nothing for the fire fighters but only for his profile. He should shut up once and for all.
Colin, GB

No apology from the minister for his comments, well there is nothing new in that. Remember the debate in parliament on youth courts where he repeated his comments about the English system (what was it: they are a disaster, an absolute disaster) and the spin machine tried to say it was out of context. He and his colleagues who have attacked the firefighters over the last few weeks, whilst enjoying their pay rise without efficiency savings, should go now.
Albie O'Neill, Scotland

Those irrelevant nobodies on the sidelines like Mr Sheridan can always get away with saying what they want without any accountability. I would swap the word "fascist" for "lucky" - guaranteed final salary pensions when they retire, 20% of time actually fighting fires, set their terms of employment and strike when these might change.
Malcolm Coutie, Scotland

I was wondering how long it was going to be until Mr Sheridan dropped his irrelevant 2p in.
Sean, Scotland.

I am sure the firefighters would agree that "fascist bastards" are similar to words like scab, blackleg etc and are only referring to those who see themselves as such.
Steve, UK

I've admired Mr Sheridan's honesty and willingness to put the truth before his career in the past, but this looks like opportunism of the kind more often seen in the tabloid press. It's a shame.
Paul Irvine, Scotland

As a Scotsman I am appalled and ashamed that a member of our government should refer to these brave men and women in these terms.
Rob White, Norwich, England

Storm in a teacup. We all say things that when taken out of context and in isolation sound outrageous. I'm sure that Mr Sheridan's inflammatory language on a variety of issues would have led to calls for him to resign were those he was addressing as thin skinned as he. Sheriff Officers for example bore the brunt of his ire in relation to warrant sales.
Alisdair Matheson, Scotland

What a disgrace as he sits at a dinner party with his 80,000 salary denouncing the firefighters who are on a quarter of his wage. What did he ever join the Labour Party for?
Dafydd Humphreys, GB

A story about nothing.
Vince Warrington, Leicester, UK

As for the supposed comments by the MSP, people who have lost their homes or a loved one will be calling firefighters a lot worse than that.
J, Scotland

Does the minister even know what fascist means? I very much doubt it. Whoever made these comments should be exposed for the fool they are.
Gary, England

If you think about it the firefighters are using terror (the fear of our being without a proper fire service) as a weapon to get their way. So the term terrorists would be more correct.
Dave Stanley, England

Strange! I thought anti-union, anti-democratic behaviour and policies were the hallmarks of fascism - in which case, Tony Blair and his cronies are right up there as prime candidates fitting the Minister's description.
S Lambert, UK

S. Lambert needs a history lesson. Mussolini (the first and truest fascist) tried to incorporate the unions into the decision making process and his doppolavoro (afterwork) programmes were better than anything offered elsewhere in Europe. And as for anti-democratic: Italy voted in Mussolini for a long-term spell when they got tired of frequent elections. Mr Simpson is being paid a lot of money to do a certain job which includes acting as a role model to his constituents and anybody else who he seeks to engage in the political process. If he can't do this effectively, he should resign.
Franco Milazzo, London, England

Franco Milazzo should check his own facts more carefully before advising others to take a history lesson! Mussolini didn't 'incorporate' trade unions. He organised paramilitary squads to attack trade unionists and smash up union meetings and offices, then when he got into power he had leading union activists arrested and locked up (without trial) and made independent unions illegal. Then he set up state-approved fascist-run 'unions' instead, whose rules didn't allow them to strike or disagree with his regime in any way. Nor was he elected to power. The Italian ruling class asked him to form a government despite his party never having a majority, because they were desperate for any leader who'd break the unions and the Communists, by any means necessary.
Ben Drake, York, UK


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26 Nov 02 | Scotland
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