Times caption: The Derbyshire Male Voice Choir has lamented political correctness after the area’s chief constable severed ties
A piece by Fiona Hamilton, Crime Editor, on the front page of today’s Times:
The push for gender equality has forced many men to change their tune. Now it has gone beyond golf clubs and dinner societies to target a male voice choir.
Members of the Derbyshire Constabulary choir decried political correctness yesterday after the area’s chief constable severed all ties with them.
Peter Goodman, who took over the force last summer, had told the choir to accept women or face losing its 60-year association with the police service. After concluding that a mixed group would take years to establish, the choir said that it would change its name later this year to the Derbyshire Community Male Voice Choir.
Kevin Griffiths, its chairman, accused Mr Goodman of trying to deflect attention from the force’s gender pay gap. “Derbyshire has the worst gender pay gap among police forces in the country, at 28 per cent,” he said. “But getting rid of the male voice choir is not going to solve that. I believe that we are a victim of political correctness.”
The choir was formed in 1956 and comprised police officers. It now accepts male singers from all backgrounds. The group kept strong links to the Derbyshire force, wearing police tunics from the 1960s and performing regularly at police events.
Mr Goodman, who is in his early fifties, said the force was an equal opportunities employer and was “committed to having an organisation where there are no enclaves where people from different backgrounds cannot go”.
Mr Griffiths, who also sings in a mixed choir, said members had considered it impossible to take on women as it would take years to find the balance. “We have 30 males and their voices are stronger because they’re bass and baritone. To get the right balance we’d need 50 females. That would probably take 10 to 15 years. We’d also need a complete library of new music. We offered to start a ladies’ choir who we could invite to perform at our events. But it was not an option for Mr Goodman.”
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