Knowledge as power

Dave’s worried about black and Asian voters. That is, he doesn’t really worry about them as blacks or Asians. It’s their being voters that gives him sleepless nights.

To be more precise, Dave is concerned that ethnic minorities don’t vote Tory. Just 16 percent of them did the honourable thing at the last election, which just won’t do.

Being a man of action, especially when his own political future hangs in the balance, Dave gathered his advisors together and told them to come up with a list of policies that would make those stubborn ethnics have a Damascene experience on the road to the voting booths. Anything will do, chaps, anything at all. Just let your imagination go.

I wouldn’t venture a guess on what those mandarins will think up. A promise to deport enough white Brits out of London to make their proportion drop from the current 45 percent to 10? Possibly. Bar whites from government jobs? Perhaps. Forbid two white people to marry unless they’re both the same sex? Maybe. Whatever the focus groups say may work.

But enough of those wild stabs in the dark. Let’s stick to the policy that has already been announced. Big companies will be ‘urged’ to publish the ethnic breakdown of their workforce in general and their management in particular.

Alok Sharma, the Tory vice-chairman spearheading this noble undertaking, explains how the trick will work. ‘Peer pressure’ will be exerted on FTSE 100 companies to come up with ‘some sort of voluntary code’ according to which they’d release into the public domain the ethnic breakdown of those in their employ.

Presumably, what he means by peer pressure isn’t cajoling by members of the upper house, but rather pressure coming from… whom exactly? After all, those companies are in the FTSE 100 precisely because they’re peerless, and they are unlikely to pressure themselves. One has to surmise that the pressure will come from Mr Sharma and those who’re pulling his strings, Dave specifically. So we’re talking not about peer pressure but about government coercion – obviously with the aim of introducing quotas.

Quotas? Perish the thought, says our friend Alok. ‘It’s about information.’

Silly me, and there I was, thinking it was yet another attempt to hamstring businesses by dictating idiotic policies to them, thereby increasing state power and harvesting a few more votes. Nothing can be further from the truth.

It’s all about a disinterested quest for pure knowledge, the kind of healthy inquisitiveness that moves progress along. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for those who pursue information as a purely academic exercise, with no intention whatsoever of finding a practical application for it.

‘All the companies I’ve talked to are incredibly keen on having diversity in the workforce,’ says Alok. Of course they are. I can just see, as if for real, those endless AGMs, with the CEO announcing that profits are 20 percent down on last year.

‘Bugger the profits, Dan,’ says the Chairman. ‘Tell us how we’re doing on diversity.’

‘Yes, but the shareholders are threatening a revolt…’ pleads the dejected CEO.

‘Bugger the shareholders too,’ insists the Chairman. ‘Are we up to 15 percent Asians and 10 percent blacks, is what we need to know.’ ‘Well, yes we are…’ ‘Thanks, Dan. Meeting adjourned.’

‘Yes, but the shareholders…’

[THE WHOLE BOARD IN CHORUS:] Bugger the shareholders!

Those readers who have been involved in any business activity will know how perfectly realistic this vision is. My own experience may be somewhat different, but hey, this is just one man’s experience.

I do remember, however, that every company I’ve ever worked for, including those I’ve served as director, would have staffed up with dachshunds if that could increase the profits. A chance of an extra 10 percent at year’s end would have encouraged them to make the staff all-white, all-black, all-brown or all polka dot – it really wouldn’t have made one bit of difference.

What did make a lot of difference was that we hired, and could afford to hire, the best people for the job. Their race, sex or age would have been neither a primary nor a secondary nor a tertiary consideration. It wouldn’t have come into the picture at all.

Now call me a cynic, but I don’t believe Mr Sharma’s assurances that the ethnic breakdown will be requested simply for him and his jolly friends to have a good laugh at a dinner table. ‘Look Dave, Widget & Widget have no Pakistanis on the board. How about that?’ ‘Funny that, isn’t it? But look, Kaxo-Schmaxo have nothing but Indians. Isn’t that a knee-slapper?’

It’s as clear as the day is long that they’ll soon try to introduce quotas, dictating to businesses whom they should and shouldn’t hire (or fire). Now, considering the non-education system created by our political class, finding qualified candidates for any decent job is becoming progressively harder. Introducing further restrictions will make it harder still, to put it mildly.

Effectively the government makes sanctimonious noises about competitiveness, while doing what it can to stifle it. All to the accompaniment of the bleating in the press that the Tories’ poor record with ethnic voters is all Enoch Powell’s fault.

“As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.” Powell was wrong to quote Virgil; he ought to have known that our ignorant leftie pundits would be dining on ‘rivers of blood’ for centuries. But he was right in predicting that unrestricted immigration would eventually lead to Britain not being Britain any longer. He also knew that social pressure would build up to a point where one day a fissure would occur.

What even he couldn’t anticipate was that 45 years later we’d be governed by people prepared to put a millstone around our businesses’ neck for the sake of a couple of percentage points in the polls. At least, Powell’s inept contemporaries were being subversive out of principle, however wrong.

 

 

 

 

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