Anger after Bassetlaw MP slams train firm's apology to non-binary customer for 'ladies and gentlemen' announcement as 'woke nonsense'
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London North Eastern Railway issued an apology after non-binary passenger Laurence tweeted that they felt excluded from their conductor’s announcement after they addressed passengers as ‘ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’ while on one of the company's trains.
Non-binary is used to describe people who feel their gender cannot be defined within the margins of gender binaries such as male and female.
Bassetlaw MP Brendan-Clarke Smith attracted criticism when he posted on his Facebook in response: “Sometimes I despair, I really do, I think people are more concerned about being able to catch their train than pandering to this woke nonsense.”
Some Facebook users accused the MP of ‘promoting prejudice’ against non-binary people as well as ‘stirring up hatred’.
Vicki Beet said: “Wow! I think it is disgusting that an MP has written this in response. Being a servant of the people includes people whose views and life experiences are different to yours.”
John Kirby said: “Close your eyes and imagine you are sat on a train. The announcement begins "morning, everyone". That's the difference you're crowing over. It's a small change that makes a big difference to people and doesn't affect you in the slightest.”
But some users defended Mr Clarke-Smith’s stance on the matter.
Chris Ball said: “Pathetic in my view. Two genders but if people want to swap between them then fine. The sooner industry and companies stop pandering to their ridiculous claims. I can’t see it ending.”
In a statement, Mr Clarke-Smith said: “In a week where Hitachi trains were taken out of service due to cracks in the chassis and passengers have experienced major disruption to their commutes, I think people have far more important things to be worrying about at the moment than whether using the term “good morning ladies and gentleman” is offensive or not.
"If they are anything like me, they will probably feel it is total nonsense and little more than attention seeking.
“We are probably one of the most open societies in the world and people can identify however they wish. That is their right and it is a right I will also stand up and defend.
“I do however worry that a small, vocal and intolerant minority of people – usually taking it upon themselves to take offence on behalf of others - are having a disproportionate influence on society under the banner of what we refer to as the ‘woke agenda’.
“Good honest people are sick and tired of treading on eggshells every time they speak and the fact that large companies and public bodies feel the need to publicly apologise every time somebody complains, however frivolous or nonsensical that complaint is, should concern everyone.
“There are quite legitimate examples in the world where people have experienced some quite horrendous treatment and it is important that people’s rights are respected and protected.
“However, there is a growing tendency in this day and age to harass, bully and attempt to cancel anybody who does not accept a particular point of view. This needs challenging head-on, not pandering to.”