The Little Englander story continues, as we guessed that it would.
Dear Professor Marks
I am writing to you as Deputy Chief Executive of the British Psychological Society in relation to your recent public comments directed at Jon Sutton, a BPS employee.
In addition to our own concerns about your targeting of a named member of BPS staff, we have also been made aware of concerns from members who found your public comments offensive and unnecessarily personal. As you will be aware, all BPS members are expected to uphold the highest standards of professional behaviour and to adhere to our member conduct rules at all times. While we are more than happy for our members to engage in passionate discussions and healthy disagreement, as an employer we will not accept the abusive targeting of members of our staff. We are therefore requesting that you remove the public comments you have made that relate to our named members of staff, particularly those that reference Jon as a “Little Englander”, a term which many people find extremely offensive. Our Code of Ethics and Conduct and our Guidance on the use of social media stress the importance of respect, integrity and the need for members to act responsibly at all times and to uphold the reputation of the profession.
Deputy Chief Executive
|Diane Ashby | Change Programme Director|
St Andrews House 48 Princess Road East, Leicester, LE1 7DR
t: +44 (0)116 252 9930 m:
|David F Marks||Sat, 24 Jul, 20:41 (20 hours ago)|
|to Diane.Ashby, Jon,|
Dear Diane Ashby,
Thank you for your letter dated 23 July 2021. I note what you say about BPS members being expected to uphold the highest standards of professional behaviour and to adhere to our member conduct rules at all times. I agree 100% with you. *I also assume that the same high standards are expected of BPS employees and that if those standards are not met that action to correct or reprimand the employee will occur*. Please can you kindly confirm this is the case because recent events, which I will not go into now, leave one to wonder about this.
I assume that you would agree that if a BPS staff member tweets in an overtly nationalistic manner during an international sporting competition, that employee should use his/her/their own private account not the BPS Psychologist account. We all know that The Society is the ‘British Psychological Society’, not the ‘English Psychological Society’. In your previous roles at M & S or Body Shop I assume the branch manager would have not looked kindly on an employee who tweeted out for his/her/their favourite sports team on the company’s website: e.g. C’Mon You Spurs! C’Mon the Baggies!
In my opinion it was obviously not appropriate for Jon Sutton to tweet out his personal support for one of Britain’s national football teams (England) and not any of the other national teams. It was quite plainly offensive. BPS colleagues I have spoken to – including English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish members – agree that Jon Sutton’s tweet was wrong and somewhat embarrassing. It reflects badly on the type of Society the BPS aspires to be (non-racist, egalitarian, progressive, liberal etc).
Jon Sutton should receive a reprimand and a warning not to use the BPS Psychologist twitter account for expressing personal, and especially nationalist opinions. I expect you or somebody above Jon’s level to do that. This is not the first time I have noticed Jon’s personal opinions on the Psychologist magazine twitter site and he really needs to rein in his personal feelings. It is The Psychologist after all, not Sporting World Magazine, and Jon is the editor, not the gossip columnist.
I did not ‘target’ Jon, as you suggest, and I did not abuse Jon. If I wanted to abuse him I would have chosen something a lot more spicy than ‘Little Englander’. All I did was to respond to his tweet which he chose to put in a public forum. The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Little Englander’ thus: an English person who thinks England is better than all other countries, and that England should only work together with other countries when there is an advantage for England in doing so. I called Jon Sutton out as a ‘Little Englander’ because that is exactly how he and his tweet came across. Other members agree with me.
If Jon or you would prefer another epithet for his conduct, please by all means suggest one: e.g. Top English bloke, Top English fan, English Nationalist, English Patriot, Lover of England, England flag waver, Super-English-patriot, English patrioteer, or whatever and I will change my tweet. However I will not delete the tweet because that would be deprivation of my right to freedom of speech to which you nor anybody else is entitled. Please let me know your preference regarding a replacement term and also let me have your answer to the point marked * above.
David F Marks PhD FBPsS CPsychol