Racism and bigotry are abhorrent manifestations of fear and hatred. I sympathise with those who have been victimised or insulted due to their religious beliefs or the colour of their skin. Britain has evolved into one of the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic countries on earth and it is only right that the sensitivities of minorities are protected by law and/or social mores.

I am old enough to remember landlords in London placing signs in their windows that read ‘No children, No dogs, No Irish’, which today would rightly see them in court. That said an insidious culture of political correctness has been taken to such an extreme that it clamps down on free speech while doing little to decrease racist attitudes. Xenophobia will never be erased with sticky tape over people’s mouths.

A report in the British tabloids published a few days ago shocked me with its sheer idiocy just when I believed I could no longer be shocked by anything. In short, a senior Metropolitan police officer attached to London’s corruption squad with an impeccable reputation has been placed on restrictive duties while he is under investigation. He hasn’t used his gun inappropriately. He hasn’t taken or sold drugs and he hasn’t stolen or been accused of sexual abuse. His ‘crime’ was to encourage his colleagues to carry out their enquiries faultlessly, in a fashion that was beyond reproach. He told them they must be “whiter than white”, a common English-language expression with no racist connotations or overtones whatsoever.

According to Victoria Ward writing in the Telegraph he “faces losing his job for alleged racism and gross misconduct”. I’ve used that same expression throughout my life. Perhaps next time I visit my homeland I’ll be figuratively burnt at the stake.

The idiom is defined in dictionaries, among them Collins, as “very pure, honest and moral”. There is at least one book with the title Whiter than White written by a Pakistani policeman; another written by Joan Deppa released last year is entitled Whiter than Snow. Is ‘white’ a new dirty word? If so, will there be book burnings or classics like Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale banned from being aired?

Besides being outrageously ridiculous to ruin a police superintendent’s career over his use of an idiom that has stood the test of time, undermining the stature of a senior officer when there have been more than 100 murders in London this year alone as well as multiple stabbings and acid attacks is, to use another English term, downright bonkers.

Britain’s police forces have suffered massive budget cuts. The past eight years have seen the closure of 600 police stations, including 100 in London, while the police force has been cut by a third since 2015. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan is under public fire for failing to tackle the capital’s soaring murder rate.

And as though the South Yorkshire Police has nothing better to do, that force has tweeted asking people in addition to reporting hate crimes to also report non-crime incidents “like offensive or insulting comments online, in person or in writing”.

Writing in the Sun, Julia Hartley-Brewer describes that tweet as bizarre when amid the rising tide of violent crime the South Yorkshire Police “are begging people to get in touch to report things that aren’t crimes”. Anyone who speaks their mind on any topic can be misinterpreted. If this is a trend, the naturally outspoken will be forced to choose their words carefully, else their name be added to a secret list.

It’s ironic that hardcore criminals are getting away with murder. Yet, this poor officer is being pilloried for daring to infringe the United Kingdom’s new style of political correctness largely driven by loonies on the far Left. What message does that send to others on the force out on the streets, often risking their lives?

I think Brexit is a very bad idea, but it is wrong that people who voted to leave, because they wanted their country’s borders to be controlled, are being condemned with a broad brush for being ‘racists’.

I do not believe the LGBT community should be discriminated against, but I am horrified that the gender-equality PC (politically correct) brigade has influenced the British government to permit 80 state schools to allow boys to wear skirts and girls to don trousers so as to enable children as young as six to question their own gender identity.

Returning to the disgraced policeman, I must say bravo to the Daily Star for its front page splashed with huge type that reads ‘It’s PC Madness’. Common sense still exists after all. What a relief!

Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.