A Labour councillor on Cumbria County Council has been partially suspended for making a racist remark. He has also decided to stand down as a councillor as a result. Cllr Ronnie Calvin apologised after using the term "nigger in the woodpile" at a meeting with council officers. He says: "It was a phrase I have grown up with, I didn't mean it in an offensive way." The comment was not directed at anyone.

Generally for a councillor to be using the N word is pretty serious although the context is a pretty strong mitigating factor. The phrase Cllr Calvin used would have been cheerfully used by many of our parents and grandparents. These days it would be pretty shocking to hear it used by anybody under about 65. But Cllr Calvin is 74 and I think has been treated harshly. I am certainly not suggesting the comment was acceptable, in these enlightened times, but was an apology not enough? 

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