Tuesday, 24 March 2009

"No Pakistanis need apply" (*amended)

I would like to get the cliché of “positive discrimination is still discrimination” out of the road early, but it's true. It's only positive discrimination if it's in your favour. Otherwise, there's nothing positive about it, for you.

Kezia Dugdale and Yapping Yousuf are both in favour of positive discrimination in the form of all women shortlisting. SNP Tactical Voting and J. Arthur MacNumpty are against it. Harriett Harmann is becoming legendary for her alternative approach to sensible policies and I have written briefly on this topic before in relation to Miss Harmann but owing to the current debate, I feel I have to give a detailed view.

No matter who you are, whatever race, religion, sex, sexuality, it is not right to deliberately restrict someone on this basis – in fact, it's against the law under equalities legislation.

If I were to try to stand in any of Labour's all women shortlist constituencies, I would not be allowed to do so and would be told, in a tremendously proud, 'aren't I being so PC', smug way, that this is acceptable as it is positive discrimination, and the Yousufs and Harmanns of this world would be perfectly ok with this.

If I owned a printing shop and a Pakistani man/woman applied, and despite being the best person for the job, I told him/her that “You cannot have the job because you're Pakistani” and claimed I was just enacting a policy of positive discrimination, I would be charged by the authorities and pilloried by the same Labour members who championed the day I couldn't stand as a Labour candidate. This is a double standard that cannot be accepted.

My biggest fear would be that any racist/bigot business owner (who might like to use phrases such as the title of this post) could just turn around and claim that he/she isn't giving a job to someone from any particular grouping because it's positive discrimination and there'd be nothing to stop them as Labour will have set a precedent. They may not use the phrase in the title of this post, but someone who felt like this could now have a valid means of acting on his/her views in whatever racist way they wished to do so. Adding the word 'positive' isn't always a good thing...HIV positive isn't the good version of HIV.

(“Clean coal is an industry myth...like saying healthy botulism... child-safe plutonium” C.J. Cregg - West Wing)

We cannot make discrimination, in any form, an acceptable piece of our culture. There is no claim from Yousuf or Kezia that this would make for a better qualified parliament – more diverse I agree, but not necessarily better qualified. I don't give a shit what size, colour, or shaped genitalia my local MP has, I just want to know that he/she was the best one standing and that this conclusion was agreed across the whole community. To propose AWSs implies that either the local parties are sexist (in which case, take a look at yourselves and don't impose the implications – AWS's – on the electorate) or that the country is - and if this is the case, then unless we have women only constituencies, the problem wouldn't be resolved.

No, the truth behind this ridiculous policy lies in both Kezia and Yousuf's posts.

“We desperately need to boost our local parties” - Yapping Yousuf

“Nobody in this debate seems capable of addressing the fundamental issue which is that of the decline in the membership of political parties” Kezia Dugdale


You expect me (and the 90%+ of people who are choosing not to be members of political parties) to accept a limit to my rights so that you guys can increase your membership? NO! We do not need political parties – they are not an essential part of the British parliamentary system and governance of the nation. We need a parliament. We need a Prime Minister. That's it.

“The fundamental issue”? How, oh how is depleting membership responsible for not enough women being in parliament? That is by far the most ridiculous thing I've ever read in any political commentary. Ten years ago, their were significantly more people paid up as members of political parties, but we were no closer then to a 50/50 split of Mps then.

You've tried introducing state funding, which I'm against, but now you want to make me (unemployed) even less employable purely because I'm a man, so that the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Lib Dems etc can increase their membership and in turn their revenues so that we can give people like you (party hacks with a passionate hobby) something to do on a weekend? No, simply this is not right and am amazed you think this is an acceptable argument in favour. This, by such a long, long way, goes against the principals of democracy and anyone who is in favour of all women shortlists (and any other form of positive discrimination) is doing it to better their own chances, not to better the greater good.

(I apologise for any offence caused by the original title of this post. As I said in the orginal draft of this post, these were certainly not my views but I used this 'shock-tactic' phrase as a means of highlighting potential drawbacks to what is discussed in this post - the title has now been amended - my thanks to he/she who emailed with a change request and a more appropriate title).


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if your post header makes a good point, or is even relevant to you post and just risks upsetting people - though you say that's not your intention.

I agree that All 'Anything' Shortlists are not the right way forward and is just insulting to whichever grouping is being 'empowered' by such methods, but maybe think again about a title such as this.

Political Dissuasion said...

Well, 'Anonymous', I used that title for a number of reasons.

1) If I'd written "Men can fuck off" I'd have got less hits because...
2) Despite their not being 'levels' of discrimination, it's more 'risky' to make inflaming comments about everything than it is about being male.
3) It says a lot that people will read the shocking stuff ahead of the less shocking.

But my main point is that it is hugely sensitive to say anything along the lines of "Pakis can fuck off" due to years of ongoing racism and discrimination of non-white people in this country. Why, oh why would we want to, and actually seek out to, increase negativity towards any grouping solely on the basis of something as irrelevant as their sex or race or anything?
Ask if any Pakistani would prefer to go back to the days where "I will not hire any Pakistanis" was pretty standard in Britain, and then consider if men in politics, or any grouping in any situation would like to experience the same.

So cheers for posting, and sorry if you're not happy with the title but if it's a tool to get my message across, I'm willing to give myself the artistic license by which to best raise the issue.

Indy said...

What is your point?

The only legal restrictions on anyone standing for election are statutory.

There is absolutely nothing to stop any individual from standing for parliament provided they are legally qualified to do so.

You do not, however, have a right to be selected by any particular political party and political parties' selection procedures are a matter for them.

Political Dissuasion said...

Yeah, anyone can stand as an independent, fair enough. But, Indy, as we're in the real world, let's accept the fact that with few exceptions, unless you are a member of one of the main political parties, you haven't a chance of getting elected. Whether this is through voter apathy/laziness or through parties having far too much power is up for debate, but if I am a member of the Labour Party, in Airdrie, and want to stand for election for the political party that I am a member of in the area where I live, why should I be excluded from being allowed to do so?

That's my point.

Also, once this new 'PC fad' takes off as these things do under Labour, what next? Might I be going for a job at any Government body and be told, "Nope, we're trying to even out the gender imbalance in the office so men can't apply". This then leads to further fears (if I were to be straight, white and able-bodied) as I could end up very, very low down the list of PC-acceptable applicants.

Malc said...

The debate is really interesting on my blog.

I'm against AWS but recognise that we do need something to sort out the inequalities in representation.