I don’t normally disagree with political allies on issues but if you ever find yourself agreeing 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 pointing out why.
There are various aspects to Harman’s Bill. One of this concerns employing people and this is the bit the Daily Whinge and others have leapt on. As Lynne Featherstone MP (Libdem MP for Equality) explains on Liberal Conspiracy:
The actual measures that got the DM so steamed up are very small steps to allow employers to right imbalances in their workforce – if they wish – without falling foul of current employment and equality law. The proposal is that when all else is equal between applicants for a job – the employer can now choose the one they feel will balance some sort of imbalance in their workforce. For example – we often hear that the fact that most primary school teachers are female and that young children would benefit from a male role model (absent fathers etc) All this proposal does is allow the Head to employ a man applicant rather than a woman applicant if they are broadly equal in all other respects – without being sued. The point up to now is that it was illegal for an employer to have done this.
But this is not going to stop the whingers from Daily Mail, nor the racists from Daily Express to spin this their own way. Last night I was invited on Radio 5 Live to debate this under the banner of “is Britain becoming too politically correct?”
The supremely mis-informed Tory MP Philip Davies was there, and I challenged him on instances where he’s been used as a tool for promoting other people’s bigotry. And he has the audacity to claim that the BNP are growing because of political correctness, not the tripe the media puts out. Listen to the debate from here.
I had to make the point repeatedly last night and I will do so again. Positive Discrimination is not the same as Positive Action because in the former you can actively discriminate on the basis of skin colour. I oppose it. Positive Action allows you to become more representative of the popular if the candidates are roughly equal on merit. So this doesn’t mean that people will be chosen on the basis of their skin colour.
And here’s another point that I made earlier and last night. Given that our political system is highly over-representative of white middle-class males, it can mean mostly two things:
1) It already discriminates against women and minorities. Its not like they’re not interested in politics, is it?
2) Women or minority groups aren’t talented enough.
So what is going to be done to challenge current inequality? Who knows. Pray?
The point here isn’t whether you need women or Asian/black people to “represent” their own constituencies… the point is – why is the system stacked against them? Don’t we believe in choosing people based on merit? Clearly that isn’t the case.
Lastly, Lynne Featherstone is completely right: the bill doesn’t go far enough. It is only asking for public sector orgs to publish salaries in the hope that this will somehow lead to more equality. Not only should this be mandatory, but there’s no reason why the private sector shouldn’t face the same scrutiny. This has been watered down to appease business leaders.
Yes, Jennie, the govt should do more to help women with mothercare… but it doesn’t mean these suggestions are useless.
This post by don-paskini titled Reducing Discrimination is also worth reading.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Culture,Race politics,Sex equality