Neither do we want men, blacks, whites, Jews, Muslims, Indians, cripples, homosexuals and heterosexuals. Provided that, after each such undesirable category, we add the magic words as such.
There’s only one characteristic that should entitle a person to a ministerial position: statesmanship. All else is irrelevant – or rather it would be if common sense hadn’t fallen by the wayside in our virtual reality of identity politics.
That’s why two cabinet members, one present, the other former, have cried bloody murder on hearing that Boris Johnson is planning to sack several women in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom was the first off the blocks, insisting that “gender equality should be the absolute norm”. Since it’s widely rumoured that Mrs Leadsom’s name is high on the sacking list, one might detect a touch of self-interest in that statement.
Diversity, continued Mrs Leadsom, should be the “watchword… not for its own sake, but because of the excellence that a diverse range of views bring to decision-making.”
I question the Tory credentials of anyone who uses the word ‘gender’ in any other than the grammatical sense. But I agree with the sentiment: a person’s sex shouldn’t be a disqualifying characteristic for any job. Yet, and this is what seems to escape the Business Secretary, neither should it be a qualifying one.
It’s also true that, generally speaking, “a diverse range of views” may indeed “bring excellence to decision-making”. Then again, it may not. It all depends on the calibre of the people enunciating the views, not on their sex.
I doubt that even the rankest misogynist would object to a cabinet fully staffed by Margaret Thatcher’s clones. Yet even the most passionate feminist would think twice before having even one Mrs Leadsom in a position of power, never mind a whole cabinet filled with her likes.
There can be no male or female perspective on government. There can be no male or female views. Views can be either sound or unsound, and never mind the source.
This is so blindingly obvious that even Amber Rudd, a disgruntled former Home Secretary, is familiar with the argument. “ ‘Surely we just want the best candidate for the job,’ ” she writes, “is the typical response when you point out the need for more women at the top of politics.
“Yet there’s another, rarely discussed, argument: that diversity is a good thing in itself. Diversity fosters a broader mix of experience and priorities, leading to better outcomes. Many private-sector studies have demonstrated that diversity improves business decisions. It is the same in politics. No one is going to fight for women like a woman.”
Every word in this statement is either false or idiotic, and most are both. A rarely discussed argument, Miss Rudd? We must read different papers, or indeed live on different planets.
All one hears these days is a demand for ‘diversity’ irrespective of other qualities, of the kind that, according to Miss Rudd, is “a good thing in itself”. And it pains me to remind someone who held cabinet-level positions for years that it’s not the government’s job “to fight for women”. Its job is to fight for the realm and its subjects.
Also, I’d like to see the studies that allegedly demonstrate the positive effect of ‘diversity’ on decision-making. I have, however, seen some brilliant studies by serious scholars like Thomas Sowell (himself, incidentally, black), showing that such considerations hardly ever come up in private enterprise.
I myself spent over 30 years in advertising, one of the most cut-throat industries. And never once did I see anyone hired or fired on the basis of any factors other than the ability to do the job.
This isn’t to say I never saw a single manager harbouring prejudices against various groups. In fact, I hardly saw one who didn’t.
But, as Dr Sowell demonstrated by his ground-breaking research, people running competitive businesses simply can’t afford to indulge their petty bigotry or, conversely, misconstrued ideas of social justice. The cost of doing so is too high.
Businesses compete not only for markets but also for competent staff. From my own experience, the difference between hiring, say, a good and bad creative team or account handler can be the difference between winning accounts and losing them. And the difference between winning and losing accounts is the agency thriving or going under.
Dr Sowell offered invaluable insights supported by a vast corpus of data. He found that the higher the stakes, the less likely would hiring and firing be dictated by extraneous considerations. That’s why, he showed, incidences of discrimination are much higher in the public sector, where the stakes are presumably lower.
Well, they may be lower for a paperclip counter in the lower reaches of the civil service, but at the level of ministerial, especially cabinet, positions they are as high as high can be.
Someone elevated to that tier just to satisfy idiotic demands for actuarial diversity can put the whole country, not just an advertising agency, out of business. So, no, diversity isn’t a good thing in itself.
It’s one of the cancer cells metastasising all over our body politic. Unless a powerful therapy is found, the disease will spread even further, killing every healthy cell along the way.
In search of the more visible symptoms, just look at Andrea Leadsom and Amber Rudd.