Theresa May, forget Brexit and make diversity your legacy
2018 has been a year of great political upheaval and uncertainty. As Brexit consumes the bulk of the government’s agenda, much remains unsolved or worse, still ignored, including issues like those around the stagnation of social mobility.
This lack of focus triggered the resignation of Alan Milburn and three of his senior team at the Social Mobility Commission. Then we have the issue of rising knife crime among London’s disenfranchised, a problem that disproportionately impacts young black boys, to the point where there are now serious discussions around the reintroduction of the controversial ‘stop and search’ policy.
A worrying prospect when factoring in the findings from the Lammy Review which revealed that black people were discriminated in the criminal justice system.
The government’s own Race Disparity Audit found that this discrimination was also prevalent for black people working in the public sector and there was still a large gulf between the pay and progression levels of black and minority ethnic employees and that of white employees.
As disappointing as these findings are they speak to a reality that is all too familiar to some sections of our society. As a black person, reading that our criminal justice system discriminates against you and people of your skin colour, or that your opportunities to progress in a public sector career are limited, are not shocking revelations.
You might just have well reported that the sky is blue and that following a thorough review of UK grass, findings indicate that it is green. These ‘findings’ are not news but simply reality, and the real news should be the fact that no real solutions have been offered by the government in terms of addressing these issues.
Granted, right now the prime minister is fighting for her political future in trying to mitigate the fallout in her ranks over her Brexit deal, whilst trying to renegotiate last minute concessions from the EU that won’t cripple the UK economy or reignite the troubles in Northern Island. So, is now the time to be banging on about diversity? In a word, yes. Politicians and pundits alike have spoken about our divided society and the many fault lines that divide us. If we want to be a United Kingdom rather than a divided one along ethnic, gender, generational and many other lines, we need to deal with diversity or rather the lack of it.
Mrs May, no matter the manner of your eventual departure, whilst you are in Number 10 you must seize the opportunity to secure a legacy as previous Tory prime ministers have done. The lack of diversity at all levels and in all sectors has caused a disconnect that has allowed the tragedy at Grenfell, extremist views, and for Brexit to occur and be such a shock to the elite. This is an area I have been researching for close to four years and have partnered with Oxford University and The LSE on new data, which explores these issues further. My personal appeal to the Theresa May is this: make diversity your legacy!
Mrs May, no matter the manner of your eventual departure, whilst you are in Number 10 you must seize the opportunity to secure a legacy as previous Tory prime ministers have done. Margret Thatcher saved the Falklands and ushered in the free market, John Major began the peace process in Northern Island and David Cameron championed same-sex marriage.
Theresa May can save her reputation in part by taking bold action with regards to our diversity challenges. She indicated her desire to deal with inequality and diversity issues in her ‘On your side’ speech and she also took the Met to task on their use of stop and search as home secretary, which was reduced by 28% under her supervision. But now this is her chance to show real leadership and take the challenge to her Labour opponents and her Tory rivals.
Labour enjoy overwhelming support among BAME and young voters who have grown up in a more diverse society. A bold move, taking decisive action to address the lack of diversity would provide robust competition to her opposition and show her colleagues what needs to be done to prevent their party from becoming obsolete in diverse parts of the country, like our capital.
So, what does bold look like? Well for starters I would like to see clear goals and targets with an achievement deadline. Just as the UN has its sustainable development goals the UK needs its own diversity inclusion goals (DIGs).
To those who have an aversion to goals and targets, I would argue we had a target to get net migration down to 10s of thousands, which seemed to be popular if unrealistic. Let’s now set some realistic goals and targets about how we enable all of our citizens to contribute to the best of their ability.
Source – Metro . co . uk