Vile racist attack on Dumbarton High Street shop assistant

Councillor Iain McLaren and High Street, where the attack took place.

By Bill Heaney

Racism reared its ugly and unacceptable head in Dumbarton this week – only days after the terrorist outrage which saw 50 people shot and killed in New Zealand.

SNP councillor Iain McLaren told social media friends: “I was upset and disappointed to hear a High Street shop worker tell me she’d been called an effing’ English b**** yesterday, while politely dealing with customers in her usual cheery and friendly manner.”

He added: “It’s the first time anyone’s made me aware of this kind of abuse, and I hope it’s a one-off.”

Cllr McLaren asked: “Does anyone have any other experience of this (or similar) intolerance? Any thoughts on how it could/should be tackled?”

The replies were swift and terse.

Ian Middleton said: “The customer should have received a swift escort to the door of the shop and told to go away. There is just no need for that in this day and age.”

Elizabeth Devine Daly added: “It’s racism and should have been reported to the police!”

Carolynn Bowman said it was “disgusting” while Mhairi Smith added: “Graham experienced this kind of stuff being a Geordie when he worked with First Bus”

One man said he had been in West Dunbartonshire for 16 years and had two bad experiences.

He posted that he found Dumbarton a very friendly town (better than my “home” town) and had no intention of leaving the place because these things had happened.

Daren Borzynski said he had “a couple of strange comments in the past just because of my name”.

He added: “I should point out that I was born in Glasgow and my parents too.
Firstly someone was very surprised that my English was very good and didn’t sound foreign.

Someone thought I would be cheap to book for a wedding photographer because I was from Poland.   Thinking of changing my name to Macborzynski after Brexit.”

Jim Crosthwaite said: “I have an English place name surname (it’s a place in the lakes in England), but I never lived there, and never had any abuse about it from English people living in Scotland.

“However, I too have had ‘unwelcome’ comments on being Scottish when in England for meetings (on more than one occasion), and even had comments from English colleagues when up here for meetings.”

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me is an old adage amongst Scots when it comes to name-calling.

However, the business of not just calling people names but assaulting them into the bargain was discussed in the Scottish parliament on Thursday.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern)  drew the First Minister’s attention to the British Retail Consortium annual crime survey.

It records that, last year, 115 shop workers were physically attacked at work every single day across the United Kingdom.

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers—USDAW—estimates that the real problem could be much greater; its estimate is that 34 retail workers are attacked every day in Scotland alone.

He added: “My bill to protect shop workers is in the final stages of drafting. What does the First Minister think needs to be done to tackle this growing problem and will her Government work with me to look at what changes in the law may be needed to do so?

“Everyone has the right to be safe at work, whether they work in an office or on a shop floor.”

Ms Sturgeon agreed. She said: “This is a powerful reminder that our shop workers do an essential job that is often dangerous to them, for which we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

“We [the SNP government] will be happy to work with Daniel Johnson and others to look at what further protections we need to put in place. He said that his bill is in the final stages of drafting; we will look carefully at it when it is published and we will be happy to consider it and discuss it with him. We will be happy to try to build consensus.”

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