Our President

Our President


Written By: Philip Turton
Edition: September 2021

Dear Colleagues,

 

Last week it was my privilege to attend the Nottingham Pride March through our City Centre on behalf of Nottinghamshire Law Society.  The delegation which attended was organised by Lee Collishaw and our Equality and Diversity Committee, joining forces with others from local firms and organisations, so that we marched alongside a groups from Browne Jacobson and the Equality Partnership on our route from the Broad Marsh, around Slab Square and into Hockley where the day came to its conclusion. We formed an exuberant throng travelling through the centre of the City of Nottingham in order to celebrate a persons’ right to be whomsoever they choose.

One of the things that struck me as we walked was that we live in a more enlightened age than ever previously known and one which would be viewed, I would hope, with awe and respect by anyone who has preceded us.  The advances in equality which have been made over the last half century, whether in relation to sexuality, race, colour and gender can be celebrated for making us not only significantly more aware of the needs and desires of others but also for transforming us into the most diverse and liberated generation there has yet been in this country.  The comparison with the period when I grew up, in the 1970s, is clear to my eyes – I saw it for myself - and yet that generation could itself, properly have claimed to be more liberated than any of its predecessors.  This can properly be called progress and should be celebrated as such, whatever your view and however much further there may or may not be to go.  It is worth noting that, overall, progress is universally in the right direction, although that fact should not lead us into complacency nor divert us from the need to maintain it. Notwithstanding the benefits we can say we enjoy in this country today (and we can never forget that those rights which we take for granted are not universally extended to all citizens of other jurisdictions) at times it feels as though hate is on the increase and surrounds us.  Sometimes the haters can blind us into thinking that we have made no progress at all.  The shameful booing of some football fans when players take the knee should not blind us to the principle that lies behind the gesture, which almost all of us recognise and welcome.  If there were any doubt about that example, those of us who, like me, stood on the terraces in the 1980s, can quickly testify to the changes which have come about and which, thank God, continue to progress.   We live in an age when it is easy to express views without taking responsibility and some people take the opportunity to do just that.  Social media is often a particularly toxic source of hatred, but I wonder whether it acts as a sounding board for just a few.  Furthermore I wonder whether it points us in the wrong directions sometimes.  It is a truism that “Haters Gonna Hate” - in fact, in my experience these “Haters” frequently are not discerning about the bile they spout.  Something about those toxic people fuels an anger that can be directed anywhere – to people different from themselves or those who have moved beyond a past they cling to.  When one is committed to stamping out inequality, racism, sexism or whatever, that vocal minority sound louder than they really are and the object of their ire, whatever it may be that day, feels horrendous.  Anger begets anger and it can be difficulty sometimes to contain one’s response.  I wonder whether in fact the issue is not race, sex, equality, whatever the individual daily rant may be, but actually about a more generalised anger that things are just not as these people wish them to be? Perhaps that awful but vocal minority simply choose to hit on what they regard as a point of weakness.  Perhaps we are better taking our stand against anger and hatred and standing firm for tolerance, without worrying any longer about smaller differences, however closely they touch us as individuals when, increasingly, they seem of less importance than who we are as individuals.  Perhaps that road, maintaining a wall against anger and hatred will take us, more effectively to a place where the differences between us can properly be regarded as inconsequential.

It was a privilege to be on the Pride March.  I have rarely seen such joy and exuberance on a Saturday morning in Nottingham.  We are marching in the right direction, and all we have to do is to keep going.

Best wishes to all of you and, wherever you are, stay safe.

Philip 

Philip Turton

President 2020-2021