Tesco Values – Intolerance, Exclusion and Hope

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I was looking forward to the gig; a Solas talk and discussion in a somewhat unusual venue – the cafe in Tesco’s main store, Coatbridge.  According to the organisers the Tesco staff had been brilliant – welcoming and very helpful, even opening the cafe especially for the event.  ‘Good for them’,  I thought, ‘here is a big corporation who are prepared to have community engagement, maybe I was wrong about Tesco’s’.   The cafe had been booked for two months, all the publicity done and things were looking good.

I was enjoying the drive down with my new Director, Dr Andy Bannister, until we got just past the Stirling services when we got a phone call from the organisers.  ‘Sorry – we’ve had a nightmare afternoon, Tescos have pulled the plug and we’re having to rearrange the meeting to the church’.   It was too late to cancel, so that meant coffee and food had to be quickly arranged, as many people informed as possible, and stewards sent to the Tesco store to re-direct people.

Why did Tesco pull the plug at the last minute?  It was not local – the local cafe manager was superb.  The first phone call said it was something to do with ‘equality’.  The next one from some higher up manager, who refused to give anything other than his first name, gave a variety of excuses

It’s a rally – no its not its a lecture with a question and answer session which is open to anyone.  It’s not a political party, religious service or a rally.

We don’t know the numbers – Neither do we…thats the point of an open meeting.  Do you ever know the numbers that will come to your store or cafe before you open it?  I guess when its full you don’t keep packing people in.  Why would this be any different?

We don’t know the content – Yes you do.  Its a talk on whether religion is the cause of strife in society and a question and answer session that follows from that.

It does not fit Tesco’s ‘values’ –   Ah – now we get to the real heart of the matter.  What are these Tesco values which prevent free speech and an open discussion on a subject which is important to the wider community?  Tesco post about their values (read about them Here) – its full of corporate newspeak which is meaningless without actions.  By their fruit you shall know them!

Understanding people – customers, colleagues, communities – and what matters to them, and then trying to make those things better, is at the heart of Tesco

If Tesco’s corporate manager ‘Scott’ was just imposing his own values,  and discriminating on the basis of them, then his bosses should deal with him.  If on the other hand Scott was just reflecting ‘Tesco Values’ then Tesco need to change their values.   Given that there was a great deal of interest in this subject in the local community, and that it matters to many people, how does banning a talk at the last minute fit these values?  What about the inconvenience and expense for all those involved?  It was a subject of great interest to the local community (the church we moved to was packed with around 100 people from a variety of backgrounds).  It was not political, it was not a religious worship meeting (there was no open prayer, or religious worship), it was not an attack upon any particular group.  It was not discriminatory – it was open to all and sundry.  So what was the problem?

It could be that manager Scott just happened to come across this on the afternoon it was supposed to happen and realised that it was against Tesco’s health and safety policy and reluctantly felt obliged to enforce it.  But it is much more likely that Scott or someone above him got a phone call/e-mail from a militant secularist who had heard of the event through the leaflets being handed out, or through the internet.  ‘How dare Tesco have this noted ‘hom0phobe/extremist religious group/any other discriminatory name you can think of’ speak in their premises?   Therefore in the name of free speech you must stop this talk .  In the name of diversity you must prevent this difference.  In the name of tolerance you must not tolerate these people.’  And the corporates jump – because the newspeak and authoritarianism of the  cultural elites suit the materialism and ‘values’  of the corporates.  This is how modern intimidation, intolerance and bullying works.

Since we first introduced our Tesco Values more than a decade ago, they have become a vital part of our culture – and an essential underpinning of our growth and success.

I would like to ask Tesco ‘what are your values?’.   Is it part of your ‘culture’ to ban Christian community groups?  Do you support the discrimination and bigotry demonstrated by your manager?’   If so then it is little wonder that your ‘growth and success’ has been negative in the UK for the past years.

You may have banned us, but there is hope.    We had a great meeting last night in Hope Church.  Around 100 people listened, discussed and debated.  Pantheists, atheists and Christians from many different backgrounds.  You could have had them.  You could have connected with your local community.  Instead you have alienated all of us.  And through the power of social media you will find that you may have alienated a whole lot more.   Your local staff were superb – why not do something radical and grant them some autonomy and stop imposing corporate ‘values’ from on high?   And why not apologise to the organisers and permit them to hold their next community discussion meetings in your ‘community’ cafe?   We are open to discuss with you…are you?

Congratulations to the local Tesco staff who are a credit to their community. Congratulations to Hope Church for organising this and for adapting so quickly. Congratulations to all who came, especially my new Russian Gnostic Psychologist friend, Ivan!  Loved your questions, challenges and thoughtfulness!

Looking forward to the next meeting…!

To those in Britain who are not Christian and yet value freedom, remember that religious freedom is the foundation of all other freedoms.
And to those who think that they can shut the Church up and prevent us from proclaiming the values of Christ. Let Jesus have the final word –  “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it’.

Here is an interview I did on this and Tesco’s response:

http://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Tesco-accused-of-discriminating-against-Christians

Prior to the gathering taking place, we had agreed a small number of members from the group could meet in our Stirling store.

“When we discovered the group was encouraging a larger, open meeting, we suggested they find a bigger venue to accommodate them.”

You will note that someone in Tesco is lying.  First of all they can’t even get the store right – it was Coatbridge not Stirling.   Thats a mistake – but someone is lying.  We were told it was something to do with ‘equalities’ and Tesco’s values…we were not told that we should get a bigger venue to accomodate.  The Tesco cafe was more than big enough to accomodate the people who were coming.   And why did they cancel at the last minute?  They knew that it was a public meeting – not a private group.   I would love to know the truth of what happened….

 


24 thoughts on “Tesco Values – Intolerance, Exclusion and Hope

  1. Sounds like it’s been a great event.

    Would Tesco’s have permitted a meeting organised by Islam, by Jehovah Witnesses, by Humanist’s, by a Philosophic Society?

    So much for the “market place” of ideas, of belief, excluded by the market economy.

    Read that very scripture this morning, “I will build my church…..” A precious promise.

  2. Sorry David , I thought that you would have known that Tesco values only come firstly in the value of money , secondly in the value of more money and thirdly , on the value of even more money…theirs ! I can back this up but it would take much too laborious and probably boring for any reader familiar with your column. Yes , I’ll still shop there , but only when I deem necessary !

  3. What I find surprising is that anyone would expect tesco to honour anything with a Christian content. It’s only a matter of a few years back that they changed their charity from supporting and cancer charity to giving a donation of (its my understanding) £25k in support of London gay pride. Since when did holding a homosexual parade become a more worthy cause than cancer research? I emailed tesco at the time and basically received drivel in reply. Needless to say I don’t shop in tesco any more. But I do think I’ll contact them regarding this case too.

  4. Please give us the email address of Tesco’s top executiveso we can tell him what we think. We did the same when Tesco’s gave money to the London Pride parade some years ago and it had an impact.

    1. Churches are there for one purpose and one purpose only that purpose being the furtherance of the gospel of Christ and winning souls for the kingdom. At least they should be, these days a lot of churches are more like social clubs. Tesco on the other hand as a commercial concern whose main objective is to make as much money as possible and as such throws its doors open to all and sunder. Although these days it’s looking more and more like Christians are least welcome among their customers of which I am no longer one. So to answer your question, why would a church allow a hall to be used by a satanic group for example? No we don’t open our doors to just anyone.

  5. On radio 4 today 1:45 -2:00pm there was a programme looking at the infinite, eternal and the finite, drawing on philosophers, hosted by a philosopher I think. I wonder if a meeting on this topic would have had the plug pulled on it, perhaps along the lines; Is this life all that there is? I’m sure someone could be more inventive and intriguing with the title.

  6. David,

    This may be too strong for those with a sensitive disposition. But the irony is very acute, and the group sum up the totally materialistic world view point of Tesco. It may not be appropriate to post it, but up to you.

    TomG

    1. Churches are there for one purpose and one purpose only that purpose being the furtherance of the gospel of Christ and winning souls for the kingdom. At least they should be, these days a lot of churches are more like social clubs. Tesco on the other hand as a commercial concern whose main objective is to make as much money as possible and as such throws its doors open to all and sunder. Although these days it’s looking more and more like Christians are least welcome among their customers of which I am no longer one. So to answer your question, why would a church allow a hall to be used by a satanic group for example? No we don’t open our doors to just anyone.

  7. Excellent, TomG. Thank you. Great medicine for the heart, laughter. I do wonder about your source material, though – the alternative Monty Python, perhaps.

    The last couple of years Christian TV comedy script writers have had session at the Keswick Convention.

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  10. I stopped shopping at Tesco many years ago – when they decided to sell the “morning after” abortion pill, over the counter, with no checks or follow-up. They were, in effect, condoning the illegal act of under-age sexual intercourse. I don’t know if they have changed that policy, but some of their more recent decisions and support would still ensure that they did not receive a penny from me!

  11. Stop letting insecurities cloud your judgement.

    “The manager of the cafe had no problem, I think what happened was somebody obviously phoned in to complain, pressure was put on. I mean why would he [a senior manager] mention equalities policy or Tesco’s values?” said Robertson.

    He added: “I think Tesco basically is part of this corporate nightmare that’s taking over Britain where they’ll claim that it’s not anti-Christian discrimination but I think it basically is.

    “Somebody higher up the corporate management structure instructed their local people, cut this out, stop it.

    “It’s just a clear case of discrimination.”

    It’s a clear case of discrimination because… You said so? I must be missing something…

    1. Yes – you are missing something. Tesco’s had agreed to the meeting – they knew what it was and they were happy with venue, subject and format. They cancelled at the last minute because of an order from on high. The corporate management lied to the press about why they cancelled it. They told us it was because of ‘equalities’ and we are against Tesco’s ‘values’. The fact that you cannot see what is going on, is only because you share the same prejudices…

  12. No surprises here. I too cut up my Tesco clubcard card and sent it back when several years ago they switched money from cancer charities to London Gay Pride. I haven’t shopped there since – what a joy!

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