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M&S renames Midget Gems after campaigner says it’s hateful towards people with dwarfism

The controversial word has origins in Victorian ‘freak shows’

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Peter McDermott / Geograph

Marks & Spencer has become the first retailer to change the name of its Midget Gems over complaints the name was hateful towards those with dwarfism.

The retailer has dropped the word ‘midget’ in favour of the rebrand ‘Mini Gems’ after a disability campaigner pointed out that the word can be ‘highly problematic’ for a variety of people. 

Dr. Erin Pritchard, a lecturer in Disability and Education at Liverpool Hope University who has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, condemned the term ‘midget’ as a form of hate speech, pointing out that it is deeply insulting to people with the condition.

Dr. Pritchard has also called upon other UK retailers such as Tesco to rethink their branding for the popular childhood sweets, which were first manufactured by Lion Confectionary in West Yorkshire.

M&S

She told The Telegraph: “The word midget is a form of hate speech and contributes to the prejudice that people with dwarfism experience on a daily basis.

“Having spoken with various firms about the use of the word midget, it’s clear that many companies are simply unaware of just how offensive the term is, and I’ve had to explain to them why it’s such an issue.”

Dr. Pritchard added that she is ‘grateful’ to M&S for being willing to listen to the concerns of people with dwarfism and for going ahead with the rebranding.

She explained: “There was initially some reluctance, but I pointed out that if they were going to persist in naming them midget gems then why not call other sweets by similarly offensive names?”

In her recent book Disability Hate Speech, Dr. Pritchard investigates the word ‘midget’ and its origins in Victorian freak shows, saying it came into usage in the early 1800s when people with disabilities or from non-white backgrounds were treated as objects of fascination and ridicule.

The academic, who has appeared on the Channel 4 series Dating with Dwarfism, added that it is ‘truly baffling’ that retailers are still able to use ‘disablist hate speech’ to market their products.

She said: “Last October was Dwarfism Awareness Month, and I took to Twitter to tag numerous supermarkets and sweet companies in a tweet asking them when they would be removing the word midget from their products.

“Only Free from Fellows – a vegan brand – responded. At this point, M&S had already written to me stating that they would remove the name.

Peter McDermott / Geograph

“For me, this highlights the need for better awareness about just how problematic the word midget really is.”

An M&S spokesman has confirmed the name change, saying: “We are committed to being an inclusive retailer – from how we support our colleagues, through to the products we offer and the way we market them to our 32 million customers.

“Following suggestions from our colleagues and the insights shared by Dr. Pritchard, we introduced new mini gem packaging last year, which has since been rolled out to all of our stores.”

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Shocking comparison between England Lionesses’ wages and their male counterparts

It is hoped that the success of the Women’s Euros will close the gender pay gap

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Ailura / Wikimedia Commons

Following the Lionesses Women’s Euro 2022 victory last weekend, the shocking comparison between their wages and that of their male counterparts has started coming to light.

The Lionesses’ bonus for finally bringing football home after fifty-six years of hurt was £55,000 per player, a seemingly handsome sum. 

However, it is just a small fraction of the bonus the men’s team took home after coming in second during the Euro 2020 tournament last year.

The men were each awarded a bonus of £300,000, and could’ve have taken an even higher sum of £460,000 home if they had beaten Italy to the title. 

A BBC study claims Women’s Super League (WSL) players earn £47,000 a year on average, while the average wage of a Premier League player is £60,000 – a week. 

The only aspect of equality in the game is payment to each player for an England appearance, with both the men and women’s team being paid £2,000 for each appearance.

The significant gender pay gap can be put down to the amount of money individual clubs bring in – for example, Manchester City’s mens team reported £571m in turnover for the 2020-21 season.

According to Deloitte, the club spent 62% of that revenue on players’ wages, which works out at £354m.

Manchester City’s Women’s Super League team, however, reported a significantly lower turnover of £2.9m for 2020-21, with its wage bill reported at £3.3m.

Though it isn’t all doom and gloom for women’s football, with wages slowly on the increase.

England Captain Leah Williamson reportedly earns £200,000 a year, while right-back Lucy Bronze is also said to have been in a similar wage bracket when she was at Manchester City before her transfer to Barcelona this summer.

And things are looking up for the Lionesses as they consider brand deals, sponsorships and off-field collaborations with big names such as Pepsi, Gucci and Nike, all of which will increase the club’s revenue. 

Pay could also increase as a result of the tournament’s success, which saw a record attendance for any Euro game at Wembley for the final.

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Bury swimmer James Guy wins SIX medals at the Commonwealth Games

James also brought home gold at last year’s Olympic Games

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@james.g.guy / Instagram

A swimmer from Bury will be bringing home an astonishing six medals from the Commonwealth Games. 

After winning three silvers and two bronze at the Birmingham games, James Guy concluded his week with gold as part of the England team 4 x 100 metres medley relay after beating their Australian rivals.

These medals join his Olympics 2021 success in Team GB’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team, where he brought home gold. 

Although winning gold is the dream, James says the medal he is most proud of this week is the silver he won for the 100 metres butterfly event.

He told ITV News: “I just haven’t got that race right this year just generally and tactically but this meet I wanted to swim it right and swim it how I usually do it.

“I trusted myself, believed what I was doing and believed in myself.”

He added: “It’s been a really good year this year. I think to get six medals at our home games is fantastic. I never really look at the results, I just try and see what I can do in my individual races and my team races. 

“Six medals is a nice accomplishment… I didn’t realise how many I’d won until I finished racing, but to finally get a gold on the last event and to beat the Australians… Yeah, a really really good week, and a nice start for the English team in Birmingham.”

James, who was awarded an MBE for his services to swimming earlier this year, was born in Bury and grew up in Altrincham, where he took up swimming lessons when he was four.

However, swimming wasn’t his only passion, with his childhood being full of different sports and activities. He said: “When I was younger I was obsessed with Bruce Lee. I used to do kung fu twice a week, gymnastics, football and even lacrosse.

“I was just a normal kid trying everything. Eventually swimming took over and it went from there.”

James swam at the Trafford Metros swimming club and went on to win a swimming scholarship at Millfield public school in Somerset, where he now lives. 

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Campaign group urges Brits to stop paying their energy bills in protest of soaring costs

‘It can only work if we show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows’

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Advantus Media Inc.

Brits should boycott their energy bills this October in protest of the soaring costs, a campaign group has proposed this week.

As the cost of living crisis continues to take its toll, Don’t Pay UK is on a mission to get one million people to pledge to cancel their bills in a bid to force energy companies to reduce monthly costs.

The group says that if even a fraction of the million that they want on board agree to stop paying their energy bills, they will be able to bring companies to the negotiating table.

This comes after Ofgem announced the energy price cap will be updated every three months rather than every six months, as it warned that customers face a ‘very challenging winter ahead’.

Analysts at Cornwall Insight also predicted that the price cap is on track to rise to an astonishing £3,615 a year from January, adding further pressure on households. 

In response to this, Don’t Pay UK has devised a three-step plan:

Build support.

The group is currently setting up email lists and is on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter to spread its message. Zoom calls are also being organised, as are as in-person meet-ups. They are also printing flyers and stickers in a bid to bring people together.

A statement on the group’s website reads: “We’ll need people, organisations and community groups to do all of this too, building this up street by street, estate by estate and city by city.

“The first step is to get thousands of people like you to say you support the strike.”

Gather a million pledges.

Don’t Pay UK has stressed that the only way they can get their message across is by turning out in serious numbers to show energy companies that they have some power.

A statement reads: “One million sounds like a lot, but millions more will already be thinking about whether they’ll be able to pay come winter and afford the other things they need to survive for them and their families.

“Even more of us will be angry about paying more than double what we used to pay for the same amount we use. Let alone food, petrol and mortgages.”

Cancel direct debits if price increases go ahead.

If the government and energy companies have not reduced bills by October 1st, the group say they will take action by cancelling their direct debits. They hope that by everybody doing this on the same day, they will be able to send a strong message to energy companies.

Their website reads: “It can only work if we believe in each other and show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows.”

To read more about the Don’t Pay UK movement, visit the official website here.

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