There’s no reason to agree with the Daily Mail


by Sunny
27th June, 2008 at 6:09 pm    

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.

Update:
This post by don-paskini titled Reducing Discrimination is also worth reading.


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  1. Marin — on 27th June, 2008 at 6:46 pm  

    Dear Sunny, I’m afraid I cannot agree with you. The employers will no longer have a free hand to appoint whom they wish because they are threatened with the withdrawal of government contracts. And the fact that our political system is dominated by white middle-class males doesn’t necessarily means either 1) or 2) (see above). It could mean, for instance, that not enough women or minority people (sufficiently qualified, of course) are interested in politics or, perhaps that not enough people within these categories wish to dedicate their whole time to the pursuit of elusive political goals. Moreover, if this sort of discrimination was the norm, how do you explain Obama’s popularity? I think Obama’s success shows that most people are ready to recognize talent regardless of skin colour, or sexual characteristics.

  2. Gege — on 27th June, 2008 at 7:02 pm  

    I don’t believe that the system deliberately discriminates against women and ethnic minorities. Politics has traditionally being organised on the basis of friendships. Thus, if you are not in the circle, it’s hard to get picked.

    The solution is not positive action or whatever you call it but, opening up the system to competition. US style primaries will be the solution.

  3. Larry Teabag — on 27th June, 2008 at 7:09 pm  

    Can I make an appeal for someone to spell out nice and clearly where exactly the change of the law lies? Is it currently the case that, given two candidates of equal merit, a company is not at liberty to appoint whichever they fancy (for whatever reason) without having to explain themselves?

  4. Ravi Naik — on 27th June, 2008 at 7:28 pm  

    “Given that our political system is highly over-representative of white middle-class males, it can mean mostly two things”

    Well, it can mean a lot of things. First, that Asian immigrants have a culture mindset that values certain professions over others – which explains why they are over-represented in medicine and business, and under-represented in politics and arts. The gender gap – I think – can be explained in part for the fact that women are far less competitive and ambitious over power than men are.

    Of course, this is not about politics, but about hiring people in a firm. A completely different subject, no?

  5. marvin — on 27th June, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

    How reactionary to oppose discrimination on the basis of gender or race!

  6. Ravi Naik — on 27th June, 2008 at 7:56 pm  

    “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.”

    There is a fallacy here, Sunny. It is discrimination by gender/race in this case – because someone will benefit because of his race/gender, and another will be handicapped because of it. This is the point Kulvinder was making and I totally agree: let’s not pretend like there is no discrimination based on gender/race because it does not affect the usual suspects. The question is whether racial/gender discrimination to balance the field – even on the basis of equal merit – leads to equality. I would think so – because unlike Kulvinder – I don’t believe that we are talking about a zero-sum game. Instead, I believe individuals are deeply affected by society and how they are perceived by it – which in turns reflects how we each perceive ourselves. Think about Obama being President, and how it will affect the African American community… it is not just a case of a Black man getting the job, and an old white man losing it…

  7. marvin — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:01 pm  

    The question is whether racial/gender discrimination to balance the field – even on the basis of equal merit – leads to equality.

    Hear, hear.

    And the answer is that discrimination, this social engineering, to balance the field will result in further resentment, and a more of an Us and Them mentality (with regards to race). I guarantee it.

  8. Larry Teabag — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:23 pm  

    It is discrimination by gender/race in this case

    Well, yeah. But if the two candidates are equal on merit, then they’re going to have be discriminated by some criterion other than merit, and that’s gonna be unfair on someone. But I can’t see a way around this, assuming there’s only one vacancy. Perhaps companies should be forced to toss a coin?

  9. soru — on 27th June, 2008 at 8:36 pm  

    Positive Action allows you to become more representative of the popular if the candidates are roughly equal on merit.

    By that definition, if you have a shipyard exclusively staffed by white Protestant males, then you are not discriminating against Catholics, unless a rejected candidate can actually actually prove they would be significantly better at the job than someone hired.

    It’s action, not discrimination, until you get to the point where the people you hired are so bad at their job that ships come out of the yard and sink.

    If you think positive discrimination is a good thing, say so, don’t insult our intelligence with such transparent bullshit.

  10. Ravi Naik — on 27th June, 2008 at 9:20 pm  

    But if the two candidates are equal on merit, then they’re going to have be discriminated by some criterion other than merit, and that’s gonna be unfair on someone. But I can’t see a way around this, assuming there’s only one vacancy. Perhaps companies should be forced to toss a coin?

    Not really – the truth of the matter, is that once companies filter out unfitted candidates by screening their CVs, they will likely want to know if candidates have good social skills, are able to interact with team members, are ambitious, hard-working… and so on. So “merit” is not a number, but a complex matrix of attributes and weights, and thus we can agree that no two candidates are alike in terms of merit. So there is always a justification to choose someone over the other without having to toss a coin.

  11. douglas clark — on 27th June, 2008 at 10:55 pm  

    Sunny,

    You did really well on that 5 Live debate. Partly because Richard Bacon, who I’d never heard of before, is an ace moderator.

    Thought Blind Dave had a point.

    As the real opposition is not, obviously, to Political Correctness at all, but to Equality, then you are on a hiding to nothing if you were to accept their examples.

    ‘Winterval’ has been comprehensively debunked.

    ‘Ba ba blacksheep’ has been comprehensively debunked.

    What’s left in Philip Davies armoury?

    He is, frankly, just a controvertialist, and I’d love to see him comment here. He would be shot down in flames.

    From all sides, I suspect.

  12. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2008 at 11:01 am  

    This is a pretty weak rebuttal Sunny. You say you are against discrimation, but in favour of it. Then you say people should be selected on merit, but not selected on merit. If you support rejecting people in part based on their skin colour and/or gender, at least say so in plain language.

  13. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2008 at 11:06 am  

    If I were in charge I would sack everyone who supported this, and then replace them with someone from a more underrepresented background. They couldn’t complain. Sunny and Harriet would have to go of course, being university-educated, but I am sure that they would take one for the team.

  14. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2008 at 11:22 am  

    A great man once said…

    “On one side stand all the bigots who hate, despise and look down on others based on their race, religion, caste, sexuality and nationality. And there are others who choose to reject that hatred. Whose side do you want to be on?”

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/about-us/mission-statement

  15. Philip Hunt — on 28th June, 2008 at 12:11 pm  

    Are Harman’s actual proposals on the Internet somewhere? I can’t find them.

  16. soru — on 28th June, 2008 at 12:37 pm  

    One point everyone is missing: if you have two candidates of roughly equal merit, but one is able to sue you, and one isn’t, then the guy unable to sue would be strongly preferred for the job.

    It’s like a choice of hiring unionised or un-unionised labour – you may intend to treat everyone well, but you know things can go wrong, so why take the risk?

    White males pissed off by these proposals are probably barking up the wrong tree – they are more likely to entrench privilege than anything else.

    I definitely think it would be better to drop the right to sue about structural or policy issues on an individual basis from _everyone_, not just from currently over-represented groups. Some government agency can handle grossly discriminating firms without requiring individuals to complain or sue.

    You don’t wait till people are dropping dead of food poisoning before you tell a butcher they better improve their hygiene.

  17. Larry Teabag — on 28th June, 2008 at 1:18 pm  

    Ravi,

    thus we can agree that no two candidates are alike in terms of merit

    But if we accept this, then could there ever be an instance where this method can be applied? Or is Sunny correct that it can kick in when “the candidates are roughly equal on merit” [my emphasis], in which case it is blatantly could be discrimination, in the pejorative sense.

    Hell, I really wish I knew what these proposals actually were.

  18. David O'Keefe — on 28th June, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

    Rumbold there is no need to be snide.

    As a libertarian you want everyone to be able to stand on their own two feet, only some of us need a little bit of help in doing that. I have a disability, Aspergers Syndrome to be precise, it affects my ability to interact with other people. Today, I have had an interview with a govt department for a temporary admin post. I had support from an employment officer who spoke to the interview panel before the start of my interview to explain my disability to them.

    Is this unfair? I would suggest not as my disability would effectively prevent me from gaining employment.

    I don’t understand the fuss that you are making over this. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need equality legislation, but that appears to be where your mind is.
    Harman’s legislation is not going to discriminate against anybody, if your a suitable candidate you will still get the job. No employer in their right mind is going to employ an unsuitable candidate, just to balance the workplace up.

  19. Sunny — on 28th June, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

    You say you are against discrimation, but in favour of it. Then you say people should be selected on merit, but not selected on merit. If you support rejecting people in part based on their skin colour and/or gender, at least say so in plain language.

    Erm, this is way too simplistic, especially for you Rumbold.

    The system is ALREADY discriminatory…. that is why it entrenches a specific demographic. So I’d love to hear how the internal culture can be changed or other ways in which it could be less biased and more meritocratic.

    The other alternative is to allow that IF two candidates of roughly equal merit were there, and you made the choice to take one over the other because you were under-representing that group, then you wouldn’t get sued – then that’s hardly discrimination.

    As Lynne Featherstone quite rightly points out, this can count towards white males as well as against them.

    Just saying its blanket discrimination would work if it were positive discrimination. Its not. I’m against that. Neither is this racist because, as said above, it can equally be FOR males.

  20. mixtogether — on 28th June, 2008 at 7:12 pm  

    Sunny:

    “Don’t we believe in choosing people based on merit? Clearly that isn’t the case.”

    Clearly that isn’t the case in a lot of Asian households either, where a child chooses a white or black partner.

    Yet you only complain about one type of discrimination. It completely undermines your argument, however much you try and theorise to the contrary.

  21. Sunny — on 28th June, 2008 at 7:29 pm  

    Yet you only complain about one type of discrimination. It completely undermines your argument, however much you try and theorise to the contrary.

    You’re turning into a boring one-trick-pony. When have I ever justified Asian racism? People are allowed to have all sorts of criteria when they want to shag – I really don’t want to pass judgement on that, even if you do.

  22. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2008 at 8:10 pm  

    David O’Keefe:

    “I have a disability, Aspergers Syndrome to be precise, it affects my ability to interact with other people. Today, I have had an interview with a govt department for a temporary admin post. I had support from an employment officer who spoke to the interview panel before the start of my interview to explain my disability to them.

    Is this unfair? I would suggest not as my disability would effectively prevent me from gaining employment.”

    No it is not unfair, but with respect, that is a different sort of issue. I do think that employers should make allowances for disabilities, and I have no problem with legislation to that effect. A disability shouldn’t be a barrier to work, and nor should a person’s race or gender.

    Good luck by the way.

    “No employer in their right mind is going to employ an unsuitable candidate, just to balance the workplace up.”

    Proving that a candidate isn’t of equal merit to another can be quite difficult in some instances, so employers are vulnerable to being sued by ethnic minority and/or female candidates, which is why they will tend to choose them even over a better white male candidate, in order to avoid legal proceedings.

    Sunny:

    “The system is ALREADY discriminatory…. that is why it entrenches a specific demographic. So I’d love to hear how the internal culture can be changed or other ways in which it could be less biased and more meritocratic.

    The other alternative is to allow that IF two candidates of roughly equal merit were there, and you made the choice to take one over the other because you were under-representing that group, then you wouldn’t get sued – then that’s hardly discrimination.”

    Do you really believe that all organisations should perfectly reflect the gender/racial balance of the country? What about class, or economic status? Should the Guardian be firing some of its university-educated ethnic minority journalists to make way for poor white boys from council estates? Will utopia emerge when each organisation has 9.7% of its workforce from ethnic minorities? What if the two candidates going for a job are a white woman and a male Asian?

    I really believe that this sort of group labelling goes against the spirit of Pickled Politics’ founding values. We are individuals above all.

  23. Leon — on 28th June, 2008 at 8:12 pm  

    Yet you only complain about one type of discrimination.

    That’s real bullshit, we’ve talked the whole shame thing on here plenty of times; in fact one of my very first pieces was about the freedom to form relationships with whomever you choose.

    It’s long past time you got off your high horse. You really need to start treating people who should be friends as potential allies than attacking everyone that doesn’t jump in line with your demands/pov.

  24. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2008 at 8:16 pm  

    Mixtogether:

    Listen to Leon. Pickled Politics is one of the best places for a discussion on mixed-race relationships, and by attacking us, as Leon says, you are isolating yourself. There are plenty of people here who recognise the pressure mixed-race couples come under. Indded, there are a number in such relationships.

  25. mixtogether — on 28th June, 2008 at 10:18 pm  

    “People are allowed to have all sorts of criteria when they want to shag – I really don’t want to pass judgement on that, even if you do.”

    That is a deliberate missing of the point.

    People have all sorts of criteria when they want a shag (as you so crassly put it) the problem is when they are prevented from choosing a partner.

    I’m not attacking PP, just pointing out that there has been a lot of getting on high horses here and on LC about discrimination etc, but without acknowledgement that all sides have work to do.

    If there are “people who should be friends” here, then BE friends. I’ve been working on this for 3 years and made plenty of friends along the way, but only ever got a slightly sniffy response here, on AIM and LC out of all the places I post and network, so I don’t buy that it’s just me.

    I’m not a one trick pony, just a single issue campaigner.

  26. mixtogether — on 28th June, 2008 at 10:22 pm  

    Rumbold,

    PP might well be a good place to DISCUSS mixed relationships, but what is it actually DOING about them?

    How does the obvious conclusion of those discussions get translated into real-world action?

    We are fighting case-by-case on MixTogether, from the ground up.

  27. Leon — on 28th June, 2008 at 10:26 pm  

    This isn’t a fucking competition matey there’s plenty of room for all of us in this area.

    PP writers have day jobs and are involved in plenty of other things that don’t get an airing here so please end your pathetic saving the world willy waving.

  28. Leon — on 28th June, 2008 at 10:28 pm  

    but only ever got a slightly sniffy response here

    Oh do fuck off, you’ve only ever come on to shout at people, throw snide remarks around (and over at Rupa’s place too) and generally look like a fucking bullying wanker.

  29. mixtogether — on 29th June, 2008 at 12:05 am  

    Who’s bullying and cursing?

  30. Ravi Naik — on 29th June, 2008 at 10:31 am  

    “The system is ALREADY discriminatory…. that is why it entrenches a specific demographic.”

    “Do you really believe that all organisations should perfectly reflect the gender/racial balance of the country?”

    I honestly envy Sunny – he makes the assertion that because organisations do not reflect gender/racial balance of the country it has to be because of institutionalised discrimination and glass ceilings. He says all of that without blinking his eyes. It’s the dogma of the Left: if you don’t succeed, it’s because of outside forces that keeps you down, that prevents you to do so. The dogma of the Right is the opposite: your success is dependent on personal responsibility, and if you don’t make it, you are the sole responsible.

    Being moderate, who appreciates ideals of both Right and Left, I don’t have the luxury of accepting such statements without questioning them. As a brown guy, I’ve been very privileged because my parents were educated, had a pretty good living, they told me that I could achieve whatever I wanted if I keep on fighting for it, and never have I felt that my ethnic background was a handicap in Europe. I don’t believe I am the only one in these conditions. I also know that white people from low-incomes, with uneducated parents or single parents, will have a tougher time to succeed. We focus too much much on race/ethnicity, yet I have yet to see the Left talk about families, personal responsibility, and can-do values that are passed on through generations.

    My point is that you cannot explain this gender/race unbalance by simply saying there is discrimination. In my university, I can see ethnic groups that are overly-represented in some fields, and others that are under-represented. It is the result of culture and starts with the family, their socio-economical conditions and values. Over-achieving ethnic groups like Indians and Chinese will do so in certain areas like business, IT and medicine, but will be under-represented in plastic arts and music.

    This is not to say that institutionalised racism and sexism has not played its ugly part in the past, and still affects the present by prejudiced assumptions. But it cannot be the only explanation. We need a more complete narrative, not the simplistic old formulas of the Left and Right.

  31. Rumbold — on 29th June, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

    Mixtogether:

    “But only ever got a slightly sniffy response here.”

    But that is because you always come over here and tend to start with an insult.

    “PP might well be a good place to DISCUSS mixed relationships, but what is it actually DOING about them?

    How does the obvious conclusion of those discussions get translated into real-world action?”

    Like what? Pickled Politics continually tries to make the point that people are not simply a part of some vast ethnic block, and that there is somethign wrong with people of a different race/religion mixing, either as friends or lovers. I respect the work you do, but you shouldn’t attack otehrs just because they don’t talk about it as much as you do.

    Ravi:

    Good points. Sometimes the discourse from both wings can be too simplistic.

  32. Sunny — on 29th June, 2008 at 3:42 pm  

    Rumbold:
    Do you really believe that all organisations should perfectly reflect the gender/racial balance of the country? What about class, or economic status?

    Ravi Naik:
    It’s the dogma of the Left: if you don’t succeed, it’s because of outside forces that keeps you down, that prevents you to do so. The dogma of the Right is the opposite: your success is dependent on personal responsibility, and if you don’t make it, you are the sole responsible.

    Bloody hell, as it is you guys are twising around quite uncontroversial proposals into something much more insidious. Please try reading above what is actually being proposed before making such uninformed comparisons.

    Secondly, I sit somewhere in between the dogmas of the left and right that you describe Ravi.

    But here’s a point neither of you want to take into account. In a very meritocratic system – you would already have tons of diversity roughly reflective of the population. The fact that it isn’t, is reflective of the system’s inherent bias. So maybe one should talk about that a bit more instead of telling me that I want discriminate against white people.

    Secondly, yes I think diversity is important. This is for commercial reasons and for moral reasons. I wrote a whole article about it and at that time people were very appreciative. Maybe it was because it was concerned primarily with white working classes:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/10/brownandclassless

    (the tags are a bit fucked up, but the text is there)

  33. Ravi Naik — on 29th June, 2008 at 4:37 pm  

    Bloody hell, as it is you guys are twising around quite uncontroversial proposals into something much more insidious. Please try reading above what is actually being proposed before making such uninformed comparisons.

    You just repeated the Left dogma AGAIN:

    “But here’s a point neither of you want to take into account. In a very meritocratic system – you would already have tons of diversity roughly reflective of the population. The fact that it isn’t, is reflective of the system’s inherent bias.

    Let me repeat my point again: you would only have diversity in a very meritocratic system *if* people in different ethnic groups have the same aspirations and qualifications in equal proportion to their representation in the country. But we know this is not true: Indian culture values certain professions over others. On the other hand, certain ethnic groups due to socio-economic factors are under-represented in certain fields because they are not qualified enough.
    This is beyond anecdotal evidence – why don’t you take this into account in addition to the Left knee-jerk reaction of shouting bias and racism at every point? Does Asian under-representation in music and arts in this country a result of bias? Or is it because a lot of Asians families don’t value these professions as much?

  34. Ravi Naik — on 29th June, 2008 at 5:12 pm  

    I feel that race/ethnicity is not the predominant factor against your chances of success in this country in most fields these days. On the other hand, being poor and with parents with low academic achievement are two main factors that seriously affect your chances of success, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

  35. Rumbold — on 29th June, 2008 at 5:49 pm  

    Sunny:

    “But here’s a point neither of you want to take into account. In a very meritocratic system – you would already have tons of diversity roughly reflective of the population. The fact that it isn’t, is reflective of the system’s inherent bias. So maybe one should talk about that a bit more instead of telling me that I want discriminate against white people.”

    But one can recognise that the system has benefited white males in the past without coming to the conclusion that the only way to fix it is to discrimate against white males in the future. What we have to do is to get away from the notion that people skin colour or gender should influence whether they get a job.

  36. Kulvinder — on 29th June, 2008 at 7:10 pm  

    In a very meritocratic system – you would already have tons of diversity roughly reflective of the population.

    I agree with Ravi, this presupposes homogeneity amongst different populations. If there is diversity in whatever population you’re looking at then you have to accept there will be diversity in the types of aspirations that population has. As an obvious example the number of beer tasters from certain religious backgrounds will never reflect the population demographics.

    You’re taking a heterogeneous population as a starting point then trying to ‘map’ that to a socially derived -perhaps aspirational – homogeneousness one (in terms of jobs etc) that you want. That start point and end point aren’t compatible. Diversity in the truest sense doesn’t look like a Benetton ad, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with a certain industry not reflecting population demographics.

  37. Sunny — on 29th June, 2008 at 8:54 pm  

    But we know this is not true: Indian culture values certain professions over others. On the other hand, certain ethnic groups due to socio-economic factors are under-represented in certain fields because they are not qualified enough.

    I’m not denying any of this, I’ve already argued this in the past. But what this doesn’t take into account is that there IS actual sexism and bias in the system (the working hours, the roles women are relegated to, the internal culture, traditional attitudes) that does actually discriminate against women (and minorities) too.

    I know plenty of Asians and blacks in politics. They won’t publicly admit it but they face plenty of casual and tacit prejudice that holds them back. And these are people on the right or just accepting of the fact that the system is like that.

    I’m not conjuring up this shit just to make a point. I talk to these people all the time. There are similarly several examples I could give you of people working in the media who report how casual prejudice is endemic in many ways.

    In fact if I so wanted I could basically blog about that every day just to make the point.

    Now – I’ve already accepted that there is no homogeneity amongst the population. Hell, I’ve argued that myself plenty of times when I point out why Indian girls do way better than black boys at school – so saying there is racism in education is too simplistic.

    But you guys are doing the opposite – saying that the relative differences in representation is only down to structural differences. Take minorities out of the equation. Why do women in politics here so much better than women in European countries?

    What we have to do is to get away from the notion that people skin colour or gender should influence whether they get a job.

    Yes, I wish you could spend more time telling that to the people at the top of the tree.

  38. douglas clark — on 29th June, 2008 at 10:25 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Well, I’d disagree with you on this:

    But one can recognise that the system has benefited white males in the past without coming to the conclusion that the only way to fix it is to discrimate against white males in the future. What we have to do is to get away from the notion that people skin colour or gender should influence whether they get a job.

    What, pray tell, is a reasonable way to fix this? You have, so far, come up with nothing as a solution. You are devoid of answers, my friend, you are supporting a status quo of discrimination. I’d expect you to be angry at that, but frankly you have to come up with an equality model.

    Which you have not done.

  39. marvin — on 29th June, 2008 at 11:38 pm  

    Bloody progressives. Why do you insist that the state engineers every part of our lives? Now you want to socially engineer more women, and ethnic minorities in the work force. By legalising racial and gender discrimination.

    What the f*** is wrong with you people?!!

    Jenny McCartney says it for me, It’s not positive, it’s just discrimination

    For those of us who grew up believing that discrimination was a bad thing, the Government’s official espousal of a “right” kind of discrimination leaves a rather dubious taste in the mouth. As Ms Harman herself says in an interview with this newspaper today: “Once you move to let the cat out of the bag on something like this, you never put it back in.”

    It is the soft beginning of recruitment-by-quota, a process which creates a breeding-ground for mutterings of preferential treatment. Such mutterings may well be based on spurious perceptions, but “positive discrimination” creates a climate in which they flourish…

    Meanwhile, anti-discrimination law at present has one very big moral advantage: it says to everyone, equally, that employers have no right to discriminate against you on the basis of your gender, sexuality, race or religion.

    We mess around with that fundamental principle at our peril: kick a hole in it, for whatever reason, and a river of angry resentment flows beneath.

  40. Sunny — on 29th June, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    Meanwhile, anti-discrimination law at present has one very big moral advantage: it says to everyone, equally, that employers have no right to discriminate against you on the basis of your gender, sexuality, race or religion.

    I’d pay more attention to her if it wasn’t some sort of a high horse based on a reality that doesn’t exist. You could write that in the United States and it would be true – because positive discrimination (called affirmative action) actually exists there.

    That is when you have proper quotas for minorities or women and have to fill them. This isn’t that. No matter how many times you people keep screaming it, this isn’t positive discrimination. and to keep saying it doesn’t convince me any further.

    Meanwhile, anti-discrimination law at present has one very big moral advantage: it says to everyone, equally, that employers have no right to discriminate against you on the basis of your gender, sexuality, race or religion.

    You see what I mean? this still is the case people!!!!!! Gosh.

    Lastly, the above reality still doesn’t stop people screaming that ethnics get preferential treatment in this country, so its clearly rubbish.

  41. marvin — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:04 am  

    I think we are going round in circles.

    I don’t know why people insisting that giving preference to women and ethnic minorities, all other things being equal, is not positive discrimination?

    I know it’s not like the States. Not yet anyway. And I accept the legislation probably wont make a great deal of difference anyway.

    The left wing Independent seem to think it’s positive discrimination: Harman defends positive discrimination plans. So it’s not just right wingers coming to this conclusion.

  42. marvin — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:09 am  

    Sorry, I mean *allowing* employers to give preferential treatment. It’s effectively legalising positive discrimination.

  43. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:49 am  

    marvin,

    Och, I don’t know how to say this to you without offending you. It is pretty clear that we have had discrimination in favour of middle aged white males. Do you, or Rumbold or anyone else on your side of this arguement deny that?

    What we have had is a self reinforcing oligarchy. Neither you, nor Rumbold, has a clue how to deal with that. Denial of a problem is certainly not an answer to a problem.

    Personally, I agree with Lynne Featherstone, the legislation should have gone a lot further and attacked the private sectors idiocy too.

  44. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2008 at 1:05 am  

    Or essentially, allowing discrimination as a tool for selecting in favour of a particular group.

    That group being specifically, white, male, private school, Oxbridge, males.

    If the recruiters fall into that category, then as sure as God made little green apples, their preferred sub-set of the human race will be exactly the same.

    To hammer it home. White, male, private school, Oxbridge, males are quite likely to recruit other from their own sub-set of humans. This leads to daft wee laddies recruiting the likes of Anthony Blunt.

    That is the frigging problem…..

    The least loyal group is probably white, male, private school, Oxbridge, males.

    Fuck the lot of them. I have more faith in Pickled Politicians than I have ever had in any of them. There is at least a degree of honesty around here.

  45. Ravi Naik — on 30th June, 2008 at 1:13 am  

    “But what this doesn’t take into account is that there IS actual sexism and bias in the system”

    So you say – but how do we know that there IS actual sexism and racism in a particular company or field? We clearly need a more reliable mechanism to measure discrimination that favours one demographic over the other, then by simply comparing the proportion of a group in a company to the whole country. So far, you haven’t said anything beyond this.

    “But you guys are doing the opposite – saying that the relative differences in representation is only down to structural differences.”

    Nobody has said that – and I am guessing you have not bothered reading what I have written. Never have I said that racism/sexism does not exist: but that there are other explanations that can explain under-representation. Up to this point, it was YOU said that under-representation could only be explained by sexism and racism. As in: In a very meritocratic system – you would already have tons of diversity roughly reflective of the population. The fact that it isn’t, is reflective of the system’s inherent bias.

    I know plenty of Asians and blacks in politics. They won’t publicly admit it but they face plenty of casual and tacit prejudice that holds them back.

    It is not particularly helpful to mix things. We are talking about hiring people for a job in a company. Laws can be made to control the hiring process so that people are not discriminated against. On the other hand, politicians are voted democratically (as in hired) by thousands or millions of people – the majority being white – it is a choice that cannot be controlled by law, and I have no doubt that racial and gender discrimination is a big factor. But this is not really a counter-argument for the topic at hand, is it?

  46. marvin — on 30th June, 2008 at 1:34 am  

    White, male, private school, Oxbridge, males are quite likely to recruit other from their own sub-set of humans. This leads to daft wee laddies recruiting the likes of Anthony Blunt.

    That is the frigging problem…..

    The least loyal group is probably white, male, private school, Oxbridge, males.

    Mmm. You seem a bit angry about this subject. Particularly with with white males who went to Oxbridge!

    I don’t see the New Labour obsession with trying to ‘fix’ everything with new legislation. I am sceptical that this ‘anti-discrimination’ bill will actually have an overall positive effect.

    I think this new legislation can only add to any existing racial tension or prejudices within the white majority. I am confused as to why people are not addressing this, too. All this do-gooding often results in backfiring where the intended outcome is the opposite to the the real outcome.

    How will you feel Douglas when you for a job that you are desperate for, and you are told there is another equally good candidate, but you will be denied this job and given to the other candidate as you are have the wrong sort of ethnicity?

    There’s also the assumption that the state has a responsibility to intervene in business matters with regards to an employers choice of employee. How much do we want the state to intervene in our lives?

  47. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2008 at 1:36 am  

    Ravi,

    So you say – but how do we know that there IS actual sexism and racism in a particular company or field? We clearly need a more reliable mechanism to measure discrimination that favours one demographic over the other, then by simply comparing the proportion of a group in a company to the whole country. So far, you haven’t said anything beyond this.

    No, that is more or less a given. It is pretty obvious that women, for instance, do not occupy senior positions in FTSE 100 companies. Neither do Asians, beyond Asian companies. It is perhaps not useful to not mix things. You, sir, are assuming that it is a level playing field, when it is obviously not.

    I cannot see what your arguement achieves…

  48. Ravi Naik — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:01 pm  

    “No, that is more or less a given.”

    That’s the attitude that pisses me off. I am glad you just said it explicitly. We cannot know whether we are progressing in fighting discrimination if we don’t have accurate ways to measure the level of discrimination that fares against people because of their ethnicity or gender in companies. Looking at the proportion of people at senior levels just doesn’t cut it. If your sink has water flowing problems do you automatically assume that something is blocking? Is that also a given? Or do you also check that pipes have enough water pressure? (if I got the plumbing analogy wrong, I do apologise)

    And that’s because people like yourself and Sunny are looking at the wrong angle: we should not aim at balancing diversity because it wrongly assumes that there is homogeneity in aspirations and qualifications among women and minorities.

    We should aim in ensuring that people doing the same job are paid equally, and qualified people are not put back because of their ethnic origin or gender. This should be the main goal, and it is not the same as achieving diversity (senior positions = benetton ads). There is a world of difference between the two, for the reasons I have laid down in my posts.

    I do think however, an “exception” can be made to when two candidates are equally qualified, that the minority gets it – because it benefits society, which in turns encourages other minorities to seek similar posts. This dynamic does not curb meritocracy, and does not necessarily restricts white males. For instance, I would love to see more Polish people working in Indian restaurants.

  49. Mark — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:17 pm  

    Sunny finds himself way out of his depth, again.

    Excellent points Ravi.

  50. Jennie — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:27 pm  

    Just coming in to give a round of applause to Ravi and Kulvinder. Would have engaged with Sunny’s rebuttal of me if anyone had told me it was here…

  51. Rumbold — on 30th June, 2008 at 12:33 pm  

    Douglas:

    “What, pray tell, is a reasonable way to fix this? You have, so far, come up with nothing as a solution. You are devoid of answers, my friend, you are supporting a status quo of discrimination. I’d expect you to be angry at that, but frankly you have to come up with an equality model.”

    But using discrimination to combat discrimination is just silly. Apart from the gross generalisation it requires, it just doesn’t make sense. If a group of people went round punching everyone in the face for years, the solution wouldn’t be to encourage others to do the same thing, it would to get them to stop.

  52. donpaskini — on 30th June, 2008 at 4:03 pm  

    Ravi – “I do think however, an “exception” can be made to when two candidates are equally qualified, that the minority gets it – because it benefits society, which in turns encourages other minorities to seek similar posts.”

    Funnily enough, that means that you agree with Harriet Harman! That’s exactly what the Single Equality Bill will allow (not require, but allow).

  53. Ravi Naik — on 30th June, 2008 at 9:42 pm  

    “Funnily enough, that means that you agree with Harriet Harman! That’s exactly what the Single Equality Bill will allow”

    Yes, that’s exactly right, I didn’t think I was being coy about it. :)

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