After a decade of meaningless Tory “equality” rhetoric, it’s worth hearing that it’s rare. In her role as Minister of Equality, Liz Truss announced yesterday that the time has come for a counter-revolution: to move away from looking at everything in terms of race, sexuality or genderism and to start seeing inequality at all levels. Also look at North vs. South, rich vs. poor, cities vs. countries. This is important because, if the Tories get it right, it could add a new modernization agenda to guide them through the destruction of Covid and Lockdown.
The plan has been in place for months, and it starts with an analysis of where the Tories got it wrong. David Cameron had nothing to say about equality: Worst of all, he told his party not to oppose Harriet Herman’s Equality Act and to accept his agenda wholesale. There was nothing better than Theresa May, there was even an exaggeration of the police-search-investigation by inviting David Lamy, one of Labor’s most powerful cultural fighters, to conduct reviews against racial injustice in the courts. He found no evidence of discrimination, yet pretended otherwise.
Looking at Tory’s way, it seemed that Labor would have to try in its own game and beat him. Cameron once declared that it was a scandal that young blacks in Britain were more likely to be in prison than to study at a good university. The problem was that his figures were unreasonable: whites were the least likely to go to university. These shocked his new MP, many of whom were brought in as part of Cameron’s A-list but were deeply uncomfortable with what he saw as tokenistic, patronizing language. One Conservative MP told me, “Our whole equality agenda was inspired by Old Tory guilt.” The conversation eventually changes. “
This began to change when Boris Johnson was elected and Munira brought in Mirza as his policy maker. His views on all this were described in one Visitors The cover story attacks Mrs. May’s equality agenda. “It is possible to recognize that racism still exists,” he said, “without turning its missing effect into an excuse for a bogus moral crusade.” He has made the case for a rival approach – which now seems to be going well. MS Truss’s speech is the latest in a carefully planned Tory counter-attack.
In a nutshell, MS Truss deputy Kemi Badenoch went viral on YouTube after declaring “critical race theory” as the new Tory enemy. It has been identified that, in reality, the Tories have joined a war in which they spent 10 years fleeing. He also condemned the rise of “unconscious bias training”, where workers are encouraged to think of ways in which they may be unknowingly fanatical. Cabinet Office Minister Julia Lopez announced this week that such “training” should end in the civil service. Not only is it meaningless, he says, but it reinforces harmful stereotypes.
This is the new Tory theme. Rejecting the old equality agenda as a cure for disease – promoting stereotypes, inequality and segregation. That means talking more warmly about Britain. Ishii Sunak recently told me that he is in the politics of repaying his country which has given his family every chance of life – a country, he says, it makes no sense for any Hindu Chancellor to light a Diwali lamp on the steps of Downing Street. From any background, it’s not too hard to show Britain as the best place in the world, he argues, if you look at the phenomenon.
Truss said in his speech that his new egalitarian agenda would include “fiction, not events” – meaning that studies would be published to open a new conversation about race and culture. Why do people of Indian, Chinese and African backgrounds tend to do better than whites at school and on pay, when Bangladeshis and Caribbeans do worse? The simple “BAM vs. white” narrator has never stood up for an investigation in Britain, but Torres has always shunned the application. No more. Truss says he is setting up a new investigation unit in the north of England.
Which, of course, is his final decision. The old-fashioned view of equality – denying where inequality is true – but widening the debate to accept the North-South divide, the white working class, and other left-behind parties. This is important because Covid (and Lockdown) will break open inequalities that have been closed for just over a decade. Studies have already shown disadvantaged students in England that they are 18 years behind after completing their CCSE pe About one-third of students applying for university say they had no contact with their school at the time of the lockdown. Will they ever be supported to build this lost ground?
Already bigger than the last accident – the impending wave of redundancy will hit more men than women and older people than young women. The likelihood of family breakdown then increases (Citizen Advice has reported significant findings in the search for divorce) and the health effects of separation, especially on the elderly. These are all problems that have not been properly measured, but if the AIIMS Truss’ new equilibrium verification unit can do this, at least the ministers will know where to fix the damage. It will revive the idea of an equality agenda by providing an urgent and deeply practical relevance.
Stories dislike speaking such language. Their “equality law” was the academy law, which did much to liberalize the school and close the gaps in achievement. Welfare reform has resulted in an increase in jobs that have increased the incomes of people at the bottom faster than in the last decade. But as far as I know, no Tory minister has shown it. The party has always seemed to be selfless with the success of its own social justice – or worst of all, many Tories still see “progressive conservatism” as a disservice.
Mrs Truss called her speech a new “fight for justice”, a topic that would be needed more than ever after the recent devastation. The economy can recover quickly but those abandoned by their schools will need the kind of help that would not be reflected in GDP figures. All in all, this is the right time for the Conservatives to rebuild and restore equality: too much needs to be done.