Should one’s political affiliation affect your job in the arts?
That’s the question which has been repeatedly asked since the Guardian reported that the English National Ballet’s Simone Clarke is a member of the BNP.
Calls for her sacking soon followed and now campaign group Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are to demonstrate against her continuing employment later this month.
Obviously many of us disagree with the beliefs and policies of the BNP but why should Ms Clarke be singled out in this manner? Why should her political affiliation lose her her job and prevent others from enjoying her performances? Are we to now require every performer to declare their political affiliation at their audition? Who is to decide which party or view is compatible with performing?
It’s hard not to conclude that Clarke is being unfairly targeted in a way that others with equally challenging views would not – how many demonstrations were there calling for the sacking of any Conservative voting performers following the introduction of the homophobic section 28 in the 1980’s?
If, as apparently it can, our society is willing to tolerate in Cabinet a member of an extreme cult which opposes any recognition of homosexuals and a woman’s right to have an abortion why do the political views of a dancer matter?
The UAF say they are “calling on all those who have an appreciation for the arts, music, and dance to demand that the promotion of racist and fascist politics are incompatible with a leading arts institution such as the English National Ballet, to speak out against the association of artists with the BNP, and that Simone Clarke should be removed from her position.”
Those who value the freedom of expression should respect their right to demonstrate but think twice before joining them.