Harriet Harman backs racist and sexist legislation


by Rumbold
26th June, 2008 at 11:42 am    

“Harriet Harman has defended plans to make it legal for firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minorities job candidates. The equalities minister said firms should be able to choose a woman over a man of equal ability if they wanted to.”

How patronising.


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  1. Pickled Politics » In support of Harriet Harman’s bill

    [...] with the Daily Mail – my advice is do some more research. This is why I disagree strongly with Rumbold and Jennie’s reactionary response to Harriet Harman’s Equalities Bill. And its worth [...]




  1. sonia — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:13 pm  

    so she wants to ban age discrimination but its ok on the basis of being an ethnic minority or being female.

    well sex changes are a bit of a bother but i guess everyone will simply have to define as a ‘minority’. we’re allowed to self-define, right?

    how about they add the box ‘individual’. im a minority because there are no more of me’s about.

    my issue is who defines “minority” in the way its used? and is it a ‘static’ thing? it seems to be. how can you explain to some bloke from hainault that because he hasnt got a vagina and melanin in his skin, any disadvantage he suffers from isn’t “tangible” enough for him to fall into the box? this is the sort of thing that all discrimination starts from – privileging a fixed idea about who is entitled to what. You’d think they realised its this sort of thing that stars the problem. every individual has the right to equality and diversity, not just black folk, brown folk, women, disabled folk and gay people! (just cos they’re the categories we currently recognise as being disadvantaged)

    Ridiculous but there you go. Tyranny of categorisation!

  2. sonia — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:18 pm  

    otherwise its just reverse institutionalisation of a group that claims it has the monopoly on ‘im the under-dog and going to be that way FOREVER so fuck you’ which really isnt good for any individual to partake in.

  3. Ravi Naik — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:25 pm  

    “Harriet Harman has defended plans to make it legal for firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minorities job candidates. The equalities minister said firms should be able to choose a woman over a man of equal ability if they wanted to”

    I don’t get it. Was it illegal or were there obstacles for firms to choose minorities or women over white men with equal abilities?

  4. Rumbold — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:27 pm  

    Currently it is illegal to choose an equally good female/ethnic minority candidate over a white/male one because of their gender/race. The new bill would remove that restriction.

  5. Rumbold — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:29 pm  

    If I was applying for a job, got it, and the employer said to me “we needed a few more white males around the place; there are too many non-whites and females”, I would think that he was racist and sexist.

  6. douglas clark — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:30 pm  

    Sonia,

    how about they add the box ‘individual’. im a minority because there are no more of me’s about.

    Now, that would be radical!

  7. David O'Keefe — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:53 pm  

    Rumbold:

    May I add that you taken a tabloid approach to this issue. From the link provided Harman’s ideas are not that controversial. Pay audits are a good idea as there have been in local authorities, women earning less than men even though they were on the same pay scale!

    I don’t believe that you have a grasp of equalities issues; if you did you wouldn’t have made a complete arse of yourself. Shame really.

    They are not suggesting that employers should employ candidates that are not up to the job to meet quotas. In truth Harman’s legislation will change little.

  8. sonia — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:58 pm  

    thanks douglas, it is a radical idea isn’t it? the minority of one’s self :-)

    of course harman’s ideas are not controversial- they’ve been tried and tested elsewhere and have always shown to be accompanied by huge amounts of resentment towards those who are seen to benefit. if i know get a job somewhere, many people might think its cos she’s brown and female! if you want to have positive discrimination, you’d better keep quiet about it! otherwise it bl**dy well doesn’t work.

  9. Rumbold — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:58 pm  

    If you take a person’s race and/or sex into account when choosing a candidate then that is racism and/or sexism. Simple as that.

  10. sonia — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:01 pm  

    anyway, its really completely not needed in this country, so as far as i can see, this is more likely to damage my chances of being seen to be good at the job i do because im sonia, not because of my reproductive capacity and melanin in my skin. What would help – is the usual shenanigans about life for mothers who want to work being difficult because employers are so bloody rigid about time off to care for kids, e.g. when they’ve got a runny tummy and the childminder wants to hand them back to you. Listen you people – i work in a sector that employs loads of females. the prob. comes when they all become mothers and no one cares, and no one thinks to give their men many concessions for being fathers.

    sheesh what a silly world it is

  11. Gege — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:15 pm  

    I’m with you Rumbold.

    Whilst the legislation is well meaning, it will further create resentment against minorities.

    I believe that God has given me sufficient abilities to compete with anyone in my area of work. All i want is an equal chance to prove myself. I don’t want to be used to further a political agenda.

  12. douglas clark — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:17 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Whilst I agree with what you said @ 9, it does not address structural prejudices. It was, for long enough, that the highest ranks of the civil service were occupied almost exclusively by white males. As they recruited only other white males into that ‘club’ it was self perpetuating.

    Another example was the RUC, which was exclusively Protestant.

    You can see the problem, yes?

  13. billaricaydickey — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    Where is the evidence that any organisatio has paid lower salaries to anyone, particularly in local authorities and government. To do so is illegal and has been for nearly forty years.

    Harman and co are the last of the PC brigade that started their careers in the loony left councils of the eighties. They haven’t yet realised that the game is up.

    Mind you one of the Harman’s advisors is black racist Simon Wooley. I understand that Inspector Nacker of the Yard is soon to be taking a look at his activities. He was involved in a number of the Lee Jasper scams like Black Londoners Forum, which used to share an office with Operation Black Vote, and the 1990 Trust. She wants to choose her advisors with more care I think.

  14. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:30 pm  

    The idea you can discriminate to equality is an oxymoron.

  15. David O'Keefe — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:33 pm  

    “Where is the evidence that any organisatio has paid lower salaries to anyone, particularly in local authorities and government. To do so is illegal and has been for nearly forty years.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1515501.stm

    Put it your pipe and smoke it dickhead.

  16. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:40 pm  

    To be fair i took ‘billaricaydickey’ to mean where is the evidence anyone did it and got away with it; those dinner ladies won their case because it was illegal.

  17. MaidMarian — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

    What is actually interesting about the BBC story David O’Keefe (15) links to is the bit about the pay differentials being, ‘because of bonus payments and attendance allowances.’

    I can only assume that for whatever reason men had these extras available whilst women did not. On the face of it though it sounds like actual pay in terms of salary was not the issue in that case.

  18. Leon — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:09 pm  

    If you take a person’s race and/or sex into account when choosing a candidate then that is racism and/or sexism. Simple as that.

    What a load of reductionist shite.

  19. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:19 pm  

    and it belittles what racism and sexism actually is … sure you can argue for or against positive action or discrimination, but to say it amounts to racism or sexism , well… is not the place for progressive pickled politics

  20. Sunny — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:34 pm  

    If you take a person’s race and/or sex into account when choosing a candidate then that is racism and/or sexism. Simple as that.

    That would of course mean that the current political system is already quite racist because its so over-representative of one group. Unless people genuinely think that only white middle class males make good politicians.

    So if the system is already racist, going by the definition, what can be done to change it?

  21. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:35 pm  

    In Nepal after years and years of marginalising Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) the government is trying to increase participation of Dalit women, men and children in politics, education and health.

    Dalits are treated as the bottom of the heap in a caste-based society. Does that make government of Nepal racist if it promotes equal access for all? No. Access in paper alone doesn’t safeguard equally – there is equality of opportunity and level playing field which doesn’t exist in Nepal. There are lots of people who don’t agree with positive action and positive discrimination – but I can’t see any other way of breaking the bottleneck of privilege that higher castes have in this country. Sure Nepal is different from the UK – but these are different examples of why you might promote positive action or positive discriminatin. It doesn’t tackle poverty based exclusion of population, but more often than not, the Dalits are also poor, here, and at some point, with systemic intervention and improved social attitudes, you might decide that Dalits have caught up with the rest of Nepali society, and therefore positive discrimination isn’t necessary any longer for Dalits – and if it persists, it might be detrimental to other groups that might have suffered in the scale of disadvantage. Positive action, like any set of reforms, needs to be sequenced, to work well, and stopped when the task is done.

  22. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:39 pm  

    What a load of reductionist shite.

    Why?

    It is ‘positive’ discrimination; the words racist and sexist are obviously used when the discrimination is ‘negative’.

    The point here is the situation is a zerosum game, in order for one equally able candidate to get a job an employer has to willingly discriminate against another equally able candidate simply because of who they are. The person that is discriminated against is more than entitled to feel the policy is sexist or racist depending on why they weren’t chosen; id hold that opinion regardless of whether an employer didn’t want a black woman in the 50s or did want one now.

    Id be the last one here to advocate any ‘social awareness choice’ on a private enterprise; if a business wanted to be completely discrimantory against one set of people either by not employing them or refusing to serve them, well its their business.

    I don’t pretend however that that argument is compatible with ideas of equality and egalitarianism towards society; quite the opposite infact it is divisive. Since my personal philosophy is geared towards the individual i accept that; it is an oxymoron however to advocate these policies as being benefitial to ‘society’.

    You cannot discriminate to equality.

  23. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:50 pm  

    What’s positive action?

    What’s positive discrimination?

    Does anyone actually know? This is a genuine question.

    Terms are branded about differently – but I thought these were legal terms.

    In any case – I think this is how positive action works.

    Two candidates. One male and one female, both equally good on merit, in fact score equally. Panel takes the woman on account of the fact that the firm has 100 men and only 2 women.

    Once merit is accounted for, it’s not about the individual candidate, it’s about the overall numbers in the system or the firm – and some systemic attempt to address the fact that there are only 2 women in the firm – and given women account for 50% of population, and they are not entirely stupid, theres got to be something wrong in the way the firm ends up with 100 men and 2 women.

    Some of this might have to do with women being carers etc etc etc. But positive action to me is never about me ( or the individual winner or loser in question), but about wider political goals for equality.

    Of coarse someone once said to me, sure, but individual feelings matter in the workplace and resentment is real. So this has to be addressed, too, to avoid backlash

  24. Ravi Naik — on 26th June, 2008 at 2:58 pm  

    “Currently it is illegal to choose an equally good female/ethnic minority candidate over a white/male one because of their gender/race. The new bill would remove that restriction.”

    I actually don’t see a problem with this. This is the only basis in which I support affirmative action (positive discrimination): if you have two equally good candidates, and your taskforce is comprised of a majority of white men, then it seems sensible that you should hire the other equally good candidate: a woman or an “ethnic”.

    What I am completely against is hiring sub-standard candidates for the sake of filling up minority quotas – which in my view shatters the feeling of accomplishment and merit of both minorities, and whites.

  25. Sunny — on 26th June, 2008 at 3:54 pm  

    Halima and Ravi are right too – this isn’t positive discrimination, its positive action. Its different.

  26. marvin — on 26th June, 2008 at 4:05 pm  

    That would of course mean that the current political system is already quite racist because its so over-representative of one group. Unless people genuinely think that only white middle class males make good politicians.

    This is idea is tosh, ALL the main political parties are falling over themselves to have ethnic minority candidates. The fact is not enough ethnic minority candidates are putting themselves forward. Same in the Police force and many other areas.

    Fact, yeah.

  27. sonia — on 26th June, 2008 at 4:47 pm  

    the contex of an organisation is going to be different – if we’re talking an engineering firm, yes you’re not going to have many women, but in the charity sector, there are many already many women. so in that case, young black men should be getting the jobs. and if someone goes for a job interview at those Post Office franchises which seem to be all Indians – well they’ll have to be diverse and get someone different then. its fine if you have the freedom to consider your context and choose someone different to ‘add to the mix’ but what you will find is that the ‘action’ is specifically geared at ‘equalities groups’ i.e. BAME groups. its a rigid way of thinking about ‘positive action’ – and not one that actually looks at why certain people aren’t going to go for certain jobs, or not getting them if they are going for them. You won’t find too many women applying for the engineering jobs -why? cos the discrimination’s been done long time ago, long before the point of applying for a job.

    but really, its silly that we have to wait for this bill for women to be allowed to breastfeed in public!

  28. sonia — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:00 pm  

    yes but “positive action” is more than a term. it would actually need to involve some action.

    and does this mean that if we are applying it to medical students /doctors/contex- then there are large no. of asian kids who put themselves forward and end up qualifying. so we then we would need to stop allowing all these asian kids in taking all the placecs and let someone else in, someone a bit different.

  29. Leon — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:02 pm  

    The fact is not enough ethnic minority candidates are putting themselves forward.

    Fact? You got anything to back this up?

  30. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:22 pm  

    Halima and Ravi are right too – this isn’t positive discrimination, its positive action. Its different.

    No it is discrimination.

    I’m unsure why people who support this law are coy about facing up to that; i’ll freely admit that i favour individuals over society and if something is divisive to society but favours the individual ill support it. It is a however a fallacy to advocate this as being ‘beneficial’ to society when in reality any ‘good’ you do HAS to be balanced out by the unavoidable fact you’ve discriminated against one person in order to discriminate in favour of another.

    In terms of society; it is a zero sum game.

    I have to admit i also find the politics of the white man keeping the ethnic minorities ‘out’ laughably though dangerously archaic. Such a simple dichotomy no longer exists in this country; this law nor the debate surrounding it seems to acknowledge a multitude of independant ethnic communities that can be as bigoted towards each other as the ‘white man’ was towards ethnic minorities 40 years ago.

    How is this ‘positive action’ going to encourage a company that was formed by one ethnic group employing a member of another? What if those people rightly point out that infact though they all have the same ethnicity they have say different castes and have infact demonstrated diversity. This all degenerates into mindless and token categorisation.

  31. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:23 pm  

    Positive action isn’t about recruiting someone a bit different. Positive action is aimed at groups that are under-represented and also disadvantaged.In some cases, Irish communities in the England have qualified as BME groups being disadvanged due to their relative socio-economic positon.

    Recognising also that disadvantage isn’t a fixed predicament – so groups can move out of disadvantage or slide back. British Indians for example are not considered disadvantged in the UK, but Briitish Pakistanis and British Bangladeshis are. I forget where we are with British Chinese. Though even within these groups there isn’t blanket poverty everywhere – but when we discuss national policy we have to start somewhere.

    However, disadvantage isn’t factored in well which is one problem, but weighed differently by the fact that you might be posh and disabled, but still face discrimination based on your disability.

    What I find strange is, though, that organisations can get away with meeting positive action targets by recruiting black and asian people who are incredibly well off, international diplo-expatriats and Oxbridge educated. Sure, it’s fine if everything is on merit, but it doesn’t address disadvantage that positive action is trying to tackle. This is where I throw my weight in with disadvantaged groups whoever they are. Overall the system needs to improve to increase opportunities for all, but mobility in some groups is moving at a slower pace.

    The onus is on larger organisations and national institutions to consider reflecting national picture demographically, not small orgs – though that would be the ideal.

    Strange thing for the first time ever I decided to apply to a training scheme aimed at women, BME and disabled groups – and I didn’t get in. The competition is too tough and broke my spirit! Never again.

  32. soru — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:27 pm  

    I think the way I’d write a law like this is that it would be perfectly legal for any private company to set up any system of biased, discriminatory or flat-out racist hiring that it wanted to.

    The law would just say that the policy had to be published somewhere, which would usually just be by reference to some standard terms and conditions like ‘equal opportunity employer’.

    The only allowable grounds for a law suit would be if the behaviour didn’t match the policy.

    People would, of course, be perfectly free to actively boycott, to go on strike over, or to simply choose not to work for, any company with a policy they didn’t like.

    It wouldn’t work in 1950s Alabama, but maybe it would in 2008 UK. Maybe people in general would be in a position to decide what ‘positive’ discrimination means, what kind of thing is reasonable to allow under it, and what isn’t. Becuase I certainly don’t see how such a complicated issue could be settled by the government or law courts.

  33. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:36 pm  

    “No it is discrimination.”

    I am not a that well read on equalities legislation, but positive action is legal and positive discrimination isn’t legal in this country. That’s the point I am making.

    I am not for positive discrimination in the UK – but for positive discriminaton in countries like South Africa and Nepal where historic injustice and structural inequalities have made it impossible for excluded groups to compete effectively on merit – and where large scale investment in skills in Dalits would be desirable.

  34. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:39 pm  

    “People would, of course, be perfectly free to actively boycott, to go on strike over, or to simply choose not to work for, any company with a policy they didn’t like.”

    That would be the tactic used by corporate social responsibility campaigns – and effectively worked to infuence the behaviours of large multinationals. Consumer power is powerful. I’d go with this.

    Public organisations, however, have various levels of duty of care to respond to inequalities.

  35. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:45 pm  

    PS.. As far as diversity monitoring goes in the UK the monitoring form is voluntary and not used as part of the selection process. Is this correct? Yes, it’s mandatory for public orgs to compile data on employees if they can – but there is no duty on candidates to provide this informaton unless we want to…. Many people don’t like filling in these forms and that’s fair enough…I think … Also, gay and lesbian, transgernder communities still do not report on their identity in orgs because … because….

  36. Nav — on 26th June, 2008 at 5:48 pm  

    … because all ze Moslems will kill them?!

  37. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:02 pm  

    :)

  38. Nav — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:13 pm  

    I’m glad you find queer bashing funny so you won’t be so shocked to hear about my weekend activities… my knuckles are still hurting…

  39. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:20 pm  

    No, queer bashing comment didn’t make me chuckle – it was the other bit .. the Muslims killing everybody bit.

    Now, I don’t have my friend around to show me how to type a smiley …

  40. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:22 pm  

    :) she came back

  41. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:25 pm  

    I am not a that well read on equalities legislation, but positive action is legal and positive discrimination isn’t legal in this country. That’s the point I am making.

    The point im making is the law that we’re talking about which is about to be introduced is about positive discrimination.

    Up to the time its brought in, yeah fine its illegal in this country.

  42. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:28 pm  

    “The point im making is the law that we’re talking about which is about to be introduced is about positive discrimination.”

    ? Haven’t the tabloids gone wild over this?

  43. Ravi Naik — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:51 pm  

    “I am not a that well read on equalities legislation, but positive action is legal and positive discrimination isn’t legal in this country. That’s the point I am making.”

    Ok, I am confused. What is the difference between one and the other?

  44. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 6:52 pm  

    I have no idea.

  45. soru — on 26th June, 2008 at 7:05 pm  

    What is the difference between one and the other?

    Action is a matter of spending money or time. The choice is only doing it, or not doing it: nobody identifiable loses out if it is done – I suppose there is some microscopic cost to society in general, very slightly raised overheads or taxes.

    Discrimination is where you have two or more choices, you can only pick one, and so an identifiable person inherently loses, and knows it.

    It’s perfectly legal to do something like fund an outreach officer with a job decription ‘find me more and better ethnic candidates’.

    It isn’t to selectively hire or fire based on race, religion or sexuality, and if someone feels that they lost out this way, they can sue.

    iirc, most such suits are brought by white males, either because we are inherently more whiney than the rest of the population, or perhaps just more numerous in the workforce.

  46. halima — on 26th June, 2008 at 7:08 pm  

    Randomly searched web to find some Higher Ed site.. was looking for Runnymede Trust or goverment definition but can’t find it. So..

    Positive action is the deliberate introduction of measures to eliminate or reduce discrimination, or its effects. It is not about special treatment for any one particular group, but the fair treatment of all people. It is concerned with levelling the playing field so that everyone has access to the same opportunities. The qualification floor remains the same.

    There are three main types of positive action: action that reveals potential discriminatory practice through, for example, the assessment of policies or monitoring; action which changes discriminatory practice in light of any findings; and action which attempts to counter-balance the under-representation of a particular group. This latter form of positive action includes the use of methods such as mentoring schemes, networks, outreach work, target setting and training.

    Positive action is not the same as positive discrimination, an example of which would be promoting someone purely on the basis of his or her gender.

    Positive Discrimination

    Positive discrimination occurs when one person or group of people is treated more favourably than another person, or group, would be treated in the same situation, based on a defining characteristic. This characteristic might be race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion of belief. It is illegal to recruit someone purely on that basis, unless there is a genuine occupational requirement. However, as the law relating to disability is fundamentally different from other equalities legislation, it is lawful for employers to advertise certain posts as only being available to disabled people.

    Positive discrimination is sometimes confused with positive action, which is lawful.

  47. Kulvinder — on 26th June, 2008 at 7:27 pm  

    Well done; i presume you’ll also somehow tie all that up into an argument?

    I believe this is what is being endorsed:

    ‘Positive discrimination occurs when one person or group of people is treated more favourably than another person, or group, would be treated in the same situation, based on a defining characteristic. This characteristic might be race, gender…’

    not this

    ‘…and action which attempts to counter-balance the under-representation of a particular group. This latter form of positive action includes the use of methods such as mentoring schemes, networks, outreach work, target setting and training.’

  48. Rumbold — on 26th June, 2008 at 8:08 pm  

    As Kulvinder says, this is a zero sum game. If you think that people should be rejected from a job partly or wholly because of their skin colour or gender, fair enough. If you don’t, then you agree with me.

  49. Ravi Naik — on 26th June, 2008 at 8:51 pm  

    ” i’ll freely admit that i favour individuals over society and if something is divisive to society but favours the individual ill support it. It is a however a fallacy to advocate this as being ‘beneficial’ to society when in reality any ‘good’ you do HAS to be balanced out by the unavoidable fact you’ve discriminated against one person in order to discriminate in favour of another.
    In terms of society; it is a zero sum game.”

    I disagree that it is a zero sum game. I believe that society gains when the workplace reflects its diversity. Broken glass ceilings (on both sides), role-models and all of that.

  50. douglas clark — on 26th June, 2008 at 10:59 pm  

    Rumbold @ 48,

    Could you please address my post @ 12. If you have endemic, structural advantage, whaddya gonna do about it? Unless you truly believe that white, middle aged, middle class, privately educated Oxbridge males are the only folk capable of leading us out of this vale of despond? Or that only Protestant males can build boats – Harland and Wolfes in Belfast. You criticise an attempt to address inequality of opportunity – the self selecting elite if you will – without offering an alternative.

    I do have options, but they are pretty unpalatable too.

  51. halima — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:42 am  

    “Well done; i presume you’ll also somehow tie all that up into an argument?”

    No. Too much work. I was just information sharing. I don’t know much about positive action or positive discrimination but sounds like we all might need equalities training.

  52. billericaydicky — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:01 am  

    Halima,

    It came as something as a shock to hear that, being Irish, I am now a BME. Actually the current trendy name is BAME, black minority ethnic but it could also be pronounced barmy!

    All that Harman is doing is following an agenda set by a tiny minority of race industry professionals who have lived for years off the totally false premise that white society is racist and can only be made equal by discriminating against white people.

    These parasites, most of whom have never had a real job in their lives, have blatantly invented racism and unashamedly played the race card and screamed ” racist” like a child having a temper tantrum every time they did not get their own way.

    One of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated is the creation of the concept of BME. No one ever consulted a single member of any of these ethnic minorities if they wanted to be so classified and all of the leaders appointed themselves.

    The example of Nepal just won’t wash.There is a difference between a level playing field and the field being tipped in the direction of a group or individual.What is needed in the case of the Dalits is for the law to be enforced.

    What we are seeing with this new bill is an anti white agenda nutured by mainly African Caribbean race industry professionals who have a genuine hatred of white people and this country. It is interesting that when all back shorlists were finally ruled out the biggest supporters of the ban were four Asian MPs who said that they didn’t want to be seen as being where they were because of the colour of their skins. The were denounced as “race traitors” by OBV!

    Couple of interesting things happened over the weekend. People may know that two by elections are taking palce next thursday in outer East London and the BNP are expected to do well. As part of the campaign every single household in both wards has been leafleted with targeted literature exposing the real nature of the BNP and in doing so we talked to a lot of people who have declared their intention to vote for the racists.

    Every single person declared that one of the reasons was that they felt discriminated against as white people. Several quoted this exact piece of legislation as being the reason they were voting for a neo nazi party. Because the Harriet Harman’s of this world live in a parallel universe surrounded by sycophantic courtiers who only tell them what they want to hear they are unaware of the support they are giving to the most successful party of the farright we have ever seen.

    The second interesting thing was that every single one of the hundred or more people who turned out was white. There wasn’t a single equal ops/diversity/inclusion/vibrant/multicultural/race equality consultant to be seen. Still, they were probably far to busy having a conference to dream up new ways of screwing more money out the hated whitey!

  53. halima — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:16 am  

    B

    Not sure equalities is about hating ‘whitey’ …but can see why low income white groups might vote BNP out of protest.

    I think the law doesn’t work for Dalits which is the problem in Nepal – or India or in countries where social practices deeem that certain groups cannot use the same hospitals/schools/clinics as the rest of the population. That’s the playing field we are talking about. Come and visit me, I’ll take you around this Himalayan country with deep seated problems with inequality.

    Women only candidate lists have helped New Labour put more women into parliament, but the short list has been controversial as we know – as will this proposal – more so.

    I am not sure that equalities work in the UK is about being ‘racist’ to white people. Or an anti-white agenda? It’s about acknowledging that disadvantage exists in society ( equalities includes all inequalities – not just black/white issues) and making the playing field more equal. When we discuss gender equalities and disabilities do we assume therefore it’s an anti-male agenda or against able bodied people?

    Can’t comment about East London elections but I imagine it’s very colourful and crazy. You shoulf be writing this up and sharing with wider people on the backlash expected.

  54. halima — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:25 am  

    PS

    You should defo write about the campaign trail stories in the East End. Perhaps politicians do live in parallel worlds, and removed from grassroots constituencies, and it’s our job to keep the politicians challenged and responsive to what’s going on in the ground.

  55. AverageWhiteMale — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:49 am  

    You know what ? If you’re HUMAN then i got your back whatever the colour gender or sexual orientation you have in life but it will be a cold day in hell before i let any government recist, sexist bigot make it legal to discriminate against my 3 yr old son who has asian, mixed race, Black and female friends at nursery. It is scum like this that fuel racial tension and they should not even have a job nevermind be in public office.

    Two wrongs never made a right

  56. persephone — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:22 pm  

    @9 ” If you take a person’s race and/or sex into account when choosing a candidate then that is racism and/or sexism. Simple as that.”

    From an organisational viewpoint pro-actively recruiting a diverse workforce is a positive thing – it breeds diversity, broader perspectives and would help towards better integration. Particularly since businesses are becoming larger/global & using overseas outsourcing etc

    Another comment was that if you were the new incoming employee who had been positively selected you would fear the implications – well all new employees have to prove themselves in the job anyway right?

  57. douglas clark — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:33 pm  

    AverageWhiteMale,

    Well, if you ever have a daughter to go along with your son, I hope you take an equally forthright stance.

  58. Rumbold — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:39 pm  

    Douglas:

    If organisations were dominated by white males appointed because of their sex/race, then of course that is wrong. But I don’t accept that discrimination is the way to solve discrimination. Part of the problem society has is that we constantly feel the need to keep classifying people and dividing them based on race, gender and so on. It simply reinforces the prejudice that if you are part of one group then you need to be treated differently from another group.

  59. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:47 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “But I don’t accept that discrimination is the way to solve discrimination.”

    Yeah, I don’t think you understand the word “discrimination’ and how it is used in each context…

    “If organisations were dominated by white males appointed because of their sex/race, then of course that is wrong.”

    Dude, life appoints white males who end up dominating organizations. Are you seriously going to tell me that institutions, socio-economic capital, etc are not skewed in favor of men? Look at the sex ratio and race ratio between white males and everyone else in organizations.

  60. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:49 pm  

    Can we put a cap on white boys like George Bush getting into Harvard, graduating with degrees, and going on to becoming presidents of a superpower, simply due to his privilege as a rich, white boy who’s the son of a former president?

    Do you guys have anyone in the UK who is the equivalent of our Bushie?

  61. Rumbold — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:50 pm  

    Desi:

    “Yeah, I don’t think you understand the word “discrimination’ and how it is used in each context…”

    In this context it is about employing people based partly or wholly on their race and/or gender.

    “Are you seriously going to tell me that institutions, socio-economic capital, etc are not skewed in favor of men?”

    They are. Which is why I oppose discrimation, because I believe that the best person for the job should be chosen. Would you support positive discrimation in favour of white males in, say, the Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant industry in Britain, as white males are underepresented there?

  62. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:55 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “But I don’t accept that discrimination is the way to solve discrimination.”

    Putting aside that I think you are not understanding the two different meanings of “discrimination”, what do you propose as the solution?

    BTW, comments like these SUGGEST that the speakers do not know many people who came from very disadvantaged groups, and so haven’t seen the two very different trajectories that wealthy, white males are on as opposed to people of lower socio-economic statuses, etc, and thus why a short term solution like affirmative action (American term) is good.

  63. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:56 pm  

    Rumbold:

    I said:

    “Are you seriously going to tell me that institutions, socio-economic capital, etc are not skewed in favor of men?”

    Your response is:

    “They are. Which is why I oppose discrimation, because I believe that the best person for the job should be chosen.”

    What the hell?

  64. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 12:58 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “In this context it is about employing people based partly or wholly on their race and/or gender.”

    You seem to think that employers do not look at merit.

  65. douglas clark — on 27th June, 2008 at 1:03 pm  

    Rumbold,

    You know I’m a wee idealist at heart, and I’d love to believe that, heh it’ll just work itself out. But it won’t and, historically, it didn’t. You and I probably would appoint the best person to the job, absent race, colour, creed or sex, but we are not part of that self perpetuating oligarchy I keep banging on about.

    An aside:

    A wee bit of background for you. When I started work in a bank – first job out of school, one of the women there had ‘fallen pregnant’ as they used to say. Her contract was terminated – she was given some sort of final payment right enough, and she was expected to do the decent thing and devote her life thereafter to bringing up baby. Which kind of precluded any future career. That was how it worked. So, with the exception of the odd spinster, it was jobs for the boys all the way to the top.

    Things are a bit better now, but they still have a long way to go.

    You are not explaining how you’d tackle the issue.

  66. Rumbold — on 27th June, 2008 at 1:08 pm  

    Desi:

    “Putting aside that I think you are not understanding the two different meanings of “discrimination”, what do you propose as the solution?”

    Hire the best people for the job, and destroy society’s obsessive need to label people.

    “BTW, comments like these SUGGEST that the speakers do not know many people who came from very disadvantaged groups, and so haven’t seen the two very different trajectories that wealthy, white males are on as opposed to people of lower socio-economic statuses, etc, and thus why a short term solution like affirmative action (American term) is good.”

    There are plenty of people on this thread who are female, non-white etc. who have criticised these proposals. People can have diasgreements over proposals and ideologies without being beyond the pale.

    “What the hell?”

    I want to move away from a mentality of employing people for reasons other than their ability and potential. Discrimination just makes that harder.

  67. Rumbold — on 27th June, 2008 at 1:12 pm  

    Douglas:

    “A wee bit of background for you. When I started work in a bank – first job out of school, one of the women there had ‘fallen pregnant’ as they used to say. Her contract was terminated – she was given some sort of final payment right enough, and she was expected to do the decent thing and devote her life thereafter to bringing up baby. Which kind of precluded any future career. That was how it worked. So, with the exception of the odd spinster, it was jobs for the boys all the way to the top.”

    Which, of course, was wrong. But I don’t accept the assertion that the only way to make things better is to do exactly the same thing again, i.e. choose people based on their skin colour and/or gender. My solution is to pick people on merit.

  68. persephone — on 27th June, 2008 at 1:26 pm  

    61 ” Would you support positive discrimation in favour of white males in, say, the Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant industry in Britain, as white males are underepresented there?”

    Ever spoken to someone who worked in such a restaurant (apart from ordering that is)? Some of them are there cos’ its one of v few work options open to them – they earn minimum wage so its not because of the financial rewards. At my place of work we have a non white chap in the Postroom, a qualified engineer who is very capable but his work routes were very narrow since he speaks & writes (good) english but with an overseas accent and this in a country that has a chronic shortage of engineers …..

    PS if you cooked a mean curry I would have no problem eating at a restaurant regardless of ethnicity of the cook

  69. douglas clark — on 27th June, 2008 at 1:37 pm  

    Rumbold,

    This isn’t actually about recruits, it’s about recruiters and their attitudes.

    If everyone acted in good faith, which is what I think you are implying, then it would, of course, be completely unnecessary to do anything at all. The reality is unfortunately a darker place than that. The glass ceiling is cracked, true enough, but it certainly isn’t shattered.

  70. soru — on 27th June, 2008 at 3:54 pm  

    Dude, life appoints white males who end up dominating organizations. Are you seriously going to tell me that institutions, socio-economic capital, etc are not skewed in favor of men?

    I don’t think you can deal with an unequal distribution of social capital by zero-sum swaps of the individuals receiving the big rewards.

    For a casino, there are two different considerations:

    1. is the wheel fair – is it paying out equally to red and black?

    2. are the stakes set at a level where it’s a fun way of spending some money? Or will it destroy the lives of 30% of the people in the room, driving them to bankruptcy and suicide?

    If #2 is the problem, it’s true you can’t fix it by simply neutrally recalibrating the roulette wheel.

    Problem is, there isn’t any other setting of the wheel that will actually fix the problem either – all you will do is just ove the misery around.

    It’s true you can’t fix a problem of skin-colour discrimination by, say, better education – all you get is a bunch of well-educated people who can’t get a job.

    But also, vice versa.

  71. Kulvinder — on 27th June, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

    Do you guys have anyone in the UK who is the equivalent of our Bushie?

    No we don’t.

    This is the danger in trying to equate American experience to that of the UK; Universities here don’t have legacy preferences or admissions as in the US, nor it has to be said is the use of ‘sports Scholarships’ anything like it is in America, either in format or in terms of how widespread it is.

    With the recent and limited exception of Northern Ireland affirmative action has been illegal in the UK; that lack of politicisation has in my opinion been a crucial factor in the relative lack of tension and conflict between disparate communities. There has certainly been no comparable cases as this (i emphasise his complaint was he wasn’t latino or black, white had nothing to do with it).

    As i said i favour the individual so my instinct is always to make the good of ‘society’ subservient to that individual. If a policy increases social tension, well tough. What i don’t do though is pretend that centrally dictated and administered discrimination can lead to equality.

    The one notable case of minority conflict in the UK within the last 5 years was of course the Lozells riots in Birmingham. And as was reported at the time but appparently forgotten since; that was very much interwoven with people trying to individually get ahead by emphasising the poverty in their community as opposed to other minorities (when trying to get SRB6 grants etc).

    It was a scramble for money, for recognition – for power by self declared community leaders and it was a scramble that did not occur between the whites and ‘the others’ but within an incredibly complex minority social structure.

    My problem with these types of schemes isn’t with the banal discussion of two homogenous but distinct groups interacting (the ‘whites’ and the ‘blacks’) but the problems that occur when the government is trying to emphasise and deal with poverty along lines of ethnicity – especially when those lines are far too complex to be dealt with centrally.

  72. Ravi Naik — on 27th June, 2008 at 4:48 pm  

    “Hire the best people for the job, and destroy society’s obsessive need to label people.”

    Right… but we are talking about people with the same merit and qualifications: at this point, should one choose the under-represented minority?

  73. zohra — on 27th June, 2008 at 6:25 pm  

    Point of information: Harriet Harman’s proposals are to bring UK law into line with what is already permitted by EU legislation (according to UNISON). Not nearly as revoluntionary as some are claiming.

    All women shortlists would be an example of positive discrimination, and thank goodness for them. Women have been able to run for Parliament for 90 years and we’re still ranked 69th out of 192 countries for our level of women MPs (less than 20%). We were 47th five years ago. More info here (pdf). So, we’re doing badly and getting worse. Truly, the problem is discrimination against women candidates at selection stage, where women who merit selection are flat out not selected. More on my opinion about this here.

    douglas clark @65, things aren’t much better today. 30,000 women a year lose their job for falling pregnant. More info about Fawcett’s campaign on this here.

    PS if you want to read her actual statement (pdf) and proposals (pdf), click on the links.

  74. douglas clark — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:49 pm  

    zohra,

    Thanks for the link. I didn’t know that. I’ll read up on what the EOC said about it.

  75. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:51 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “Hire the best people for the job, and destroy society’s obsessive need to label people.”

    Your adamant stance on being anti-affirmative action is blinding you to the actual facts on the ground, and realities that exist, and so even when you are challenged, you keep repeating, parrot-like, that you stand for ‘hiring the best people for the job’ and to stop fixating on race, blah blah. It almost seems like you haven’t really thought this topic through; you’ve just stopped at the ‘I’m anti-discrimination!” shrill and that’s it.

    You still didn’t answer the question of what your proposed solutions are to closing the inequality gaps that exist. You seem to be assuming that there is a level playing field for everyone when this is not true at all, and in every realm.

    “I want to move away from a mentality of employing people for reasons other than their ability and potential. Discrimination just makes that harder.”

    Still makes no fucking sense. You conceded to my point on how there is inequality in social, economic, and cultural capital, and then you turn around and say “But people’s background should not be taken into consideration!!!!” What kind of circular logic is that?

    And BTW, quit thinking that affirmative action is solely based on gender and race. People who do are candidates also have merit, you know. Why are you assuming that people who benefit from affirmative action are a bunch of brainless women and blacks who have been ‘favored’ without any merit? Boxing in people and making– shall I say, racist and sexist assumptions– aren’t we? And yet you are the one saying we shouldn’t label and categorize people!

  76. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:52 pm  

    “Which, of course, was wrong. But I don’t accept the assertion that the only way to make things better is to do exactly the same thing again, i.e. choose people based on their skin colour and/or gender. My solution is to pick people on merit.”

    Broken record.

  77. soru — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:04 pm  

    You still didn’t answer the question of what your proposed solutions are to closing the inequality gaps that exist.

    And you haven’t explained how changing the set of people who emerge on top is even conceivably a solution to that problem.

    Something must be done!

    This is something!

    It must be done!

  78. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:07 pm  

    Soru:

    “And you haven’t explained how changing the set of people who emerge on top is even conceivably a solution to that problem.”

    Ok, so let me just say that I’m letting my irritation get the best of me, but this is a daft question. Why the hell are you looking at the ‘top’ rather than the people who are the beneficiaries at not only the ‘top’ as you put it, but organizations which may be low, middle AND top?

  79. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:12 pm  

    Anyway, I’m off to bed. Rather get a good night’s sleep than feel like how I do in America when having these conversations with Americans who think that everyone’s living the same nice life that they have, blah blah, and that middle class/upper class white males are the victims of women, minorities, and the poor due to affirmative action! Doom!

  80. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:15 pm  

    Save the wealthy white male from smart minorities, women, and the poor! Please!

    Is anyone interested in signing a petition to stop the totally unjust extinction of the privileged white male?

    We must stop this immediately. We are in grave danger of being managed by a bunch of blacks and women who have only 2 brain cells to their name, but were put in positions of power due to affirmative action. What a careless, and DANGEROUS thing to do! This is a national security threat!

  81. Desi Italiana — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:19 pm  

    Hey, I can’t fall asleep because this one question is nagging me, but the PP Secretariat doesn’t need to answer if they don’t want to, but:

    Are any of the PP bloggers beneficiaries of ‘affirmative action’? Or is it based on merit? Or both?

  82. Ravi Naik — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:50 pm  

    “And BTW, quit thinking that affirmative action is solely based on gender and race. People who do are candidates also have merit, you know.”

    Oh please. Affirmative action does put people with less merit in front of those with more merit just because they belong to a minority group. Why hide this? I happen to be against this, as I would hate that my accomplishments in life would be perceived as less worthy if my ethnic group was a recipient of such measure.

    Instead, I am for measures that: emphasise social and economic justice, emphasise education in underprivileged communities, and yes, I am for giving a chance to minorities over others if they are of equal merit. By the way, I am including as “minority”, people of poor white backgrounds.

    You cannot solve 200 years of oppression by quick fixes and affirmative action – it will take time to level the field. Meritocracy should definitely not suffer because of this.

  83. soru — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:59 pm  

    Why the hell are you looking at the ‘top’ rather than the people who are the beneficiaries at not only the ‘top’ as you put it, but organizations which may be low, middle AND top?

    Still makes no difference.

    Simplify things, have a society with 4 people, A to D.
    The only source of income in the society is reasonably fair competition. Say a dance marathon, see who can keep moving longest.

    The person who comes out on top gets a million quid a week, second gets a million a year, third ten thousand a year, #4 gets shot in the head.

    There is no possible change to the judging rules of that contest that will make the slightest bit of difference to the very great inequalities of that society. It doesn’t matter whether you swap A and B, B and C, D and A. It doesn’t matter whether the person who came second was a much worse dancer, a slightly worse one, or separated solely by taste. Calculate the gini coefficient, mortality rate, whatever, it will all be the same.

    If the rules for determining the winner are unfair, you need to change them. But if the outcome isn’t to your liking, you need to make a change somewhere else.

    Forget america, forget every conversation you ever had with an american – that society is irredeemably fucked. It needs to be pitied, not emulated.

  84. Desi Italiana — on 28th June, 2008 at 6:46 am  

    Ravi:

    “You cannot solve 200 years of oppression by quick fixes and affirmative action – it will take time to level the field.”

    I totally agree with this, and I stated earlier in one of my comments (#62) that I think affirmative action is a short term solution. Long term would be implementing policies at almost every level to make society equitable socio-economically (which, BTW, ain’t happening).

  85. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2008 at 10:56 am  

    Persephone:

    “Ever spoken to someone who worked in such a restaurant (apart from ordering that is)? Some of them are there cos’ its one of v few work options.

    I am not saying that it is a great job, merely that if we extend the principle of underrepresentation we had better start to discriminate against Asians in the Indian/Bangladeshi curry house business, or the medical profession, and so on. Or is that just silly?

    Douglas:

    “If everyone acted in good faith, which is what I think you are implying, then it would, of course, be completely unnecessary to do anything at all. The reality is unfortunately a darker place than that. The glass ceiling is cracked, true enough, but it certainly isn’t shattered.”

    I don’t think that this is a perfect world, but I am not sure how discrimination helps.

    Desi:

    You keep asking me what my solution is, and I keep telling you. Select on merit. I don’t know why that is a broken record, as it is you asking the question over and over again. Nor do I think that anyone who benefits from discrimination in the workplace is useless, it’s just that they have been selected in part based on something other than merit. My ultimate dream would be to see a society where people don’t really care what group you belong to, and turning people away from jobs because of their race or religion won’t help. Presumably if you lived in a country where your group was historically on top, you would be happy to be discriminated against? I suspect not. In this country many of the white working class have more economic problems then Asians who live in Kensington and Chelsea. Shuld we start discrimating in favour of them, or would that be racist because they are white?

    Ravi:

    “Right… but we are talking about people with the same merit and qualifications: at this point, should one choose the under-represented minority?”

    But how many situations would there be when both candidates are considered absolutly equal?

    Zohra:

    “Truly, the problem is discrimination against women candidates at selection stage, where women who merit selection are flat out not selected.”

    Exactly, and I believe that the best way to reduce the problem is to stop judging people based on their race and/or gender. If the selection boards saw the candidates as individuals rather than as a particular gener or race, I think we would be seeing more ethnic minority and female candidates.

  86. marvin — on 28th June, 2008 at 11:55 am  

    Are any of the PP bloggers beneficiaries of ‘affirmative action’?

    Would they admit to it?

    I read this yesterday, Too many black and Asian faces on TV, says BBC director Samir Shah

  87. soru — on 28th June, 2008 at 12:20 pm  

    TV is an interesting special case, as for everything that appears on-screen, they are already exempted from anti-discrimination laws. When they wanted to cast that Goan family, they already couldn’t get sued by some white male who wanted to play the role of the sister.

    If on-screen is really better balanced than off, despite there being the same people in the same places making all the hiring and firing decisions, that does seem to suggest something.

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