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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Holyrood urged to protect 'neds'
Rosie Kane
Ms Kane said the term ned should be banned
A Glasgow MSP has called on the Scottish Parliament to condemn the use of the word ned.

The Scottish Socialist Party's Rosie Kane said the term was hurtful and disrespectful to young people.

Ms Kane said the word stands for a non-educated delinquent and is therefore degrading and insulting.

However, communities minister Margaret Curran accused her of focusing on "frivolities" rather than the blight of youth crime.

Ms Kane tabled a question asking the Scottish Executive to state its position on ministers using the term.

The former youth worker in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow wants the parliament to condemn its use, comparing it to ageism, racism and sexism.

Alienate youngsters

"If you were talking about any other section of society, let's say it was elderly people, and you used a derogatory term there would be an outcry," the MSP told BBC Scotland.

"Just because these young people don't have the vote and they live in some of the areas that you don't hear too much about or see too much about, it does not mean that they should not be protected in relation to language that is used against them."

The MSP has been supported by the charity Children in Scotland, which said such descriptions helped alienate youngsters from the rest of society.

Ms Kane and the charity said they were also concerned about the way young people have been portrayed recently.

Ms Curran insisted the priority of the executive was to respond to the problems encountered by communities and young people.

"I think it's much better that rather than blaming the people who use the term, you try to resolve the problem," said the communities minister.

Margaret Curran
Margaret Curran dismissed the call
"With all due respect I think you have a very strange sense of priorities.

"I'm quite happy to tell my constituents, the elderly women who are mugged, the hard-pressed families whose car tyres are slashed on a regular basis, that the policy of the SSP is to say to them be careful how you describe that because you might hurt their feelings."

Ms Kane told the parliament that statistics showed youth crime had remained at the same level for a decade.

"What's happening in other debates we have heard is a generalisation against young people all over Scotland," she said.

"These same young people have been badly let down. They have been pushed to the wall for decades and some of them are now the parents of young people we are now hearing concerns about.

"That is the result of poverty."

However, Labour's Duncan McNeill said that the word ned was used to refer to young criminals rather than all young people.

'Pharmaceutical consultants'

He said: "What are we supposed to call them - the guys that hang about the streets? Tracksuit ambassadors?

"Shoplifters as retail stock relocation operatives?

"Drug dealers as independent pharmaceutical consultants? What are we to call them?"

Ms Kane replied: "To call young people neds, drug dealers, shoplifters or any other thing is a huge assumption. They are young people."

In 2001 the word ned entered the Concise Oxford Dictionary, defined as a hooligan or petty criminal, a stupid or loutish boy or man.

BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke
"Communities Minister Margaret Curran was having none of it"

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