AS the media have noted with some glee, under new Prime Minister Liz Truss for the first time none of the four ‘great offices of state’ is held by a white man.
Much of the party loyalists and conservative commentariat in turn has taken this in one of two ways; as either a positive sign of progress as opposed to the left’s record on such matters or as an indicator of the party’s supposed meritocracy. Conservative Lord Hannan noted that such a matter could never happen ‘in the current Labour or Lib Dem leaderships’, and that it showed that the left’s ‘positive discrimination’ doesn’t work.
Heck, some even celebrated Truss being the third female Tory leader on that basis alone, with a Daily Mail front page going as far as to highlight such a tally against Labour’s lack thereof.
However, such an attitude is self-defeating when considered in full context. This is because, once again, the British right is pandering to the narratives of the left in the crudest way possible. As opposed to starting from the idea that those with the best pedigree should hold such positions, it begins from a left-wing notion that people should be promoted based on whether they have been from once-marginalised groups, to improve the standing of their respective group.
The slightest pandering to such a notion, even if it is done from a meritocratic right-wing position, is still giving credence to this idea, all the while giving the left a sense of legitimacy. It panders to left-wing ideas on which much of the current creed of their politicking, rightly decried by conservatives, is based. It undermines the right therefore – if we claim to stand against the left, why are we promoting their theories and ideas?
Not to mention the inevitable slippery slope this entails as we co-opt more of their ideas supposedly to own them. It also suggests horrors concerning policy – if Truss and Co are going to pander to left-wing thinking in presentation, what does that suggest for policy, especially when there have been early warning signs in that regard too?
Meanwhile, it damages the idea that the party at its highest levels is a meritocracy. There’s no doubt that many of those appointed to Truss’s Cabinet are talented and suited to the jobs they’ve been appointed to – actual conservative Suella Braverman becoming Home Secretary being just one such example. However, what it also shows is that the British right is as obsessed with diversity and inclusion as is much of the left, something that goes to the highest levels of government.
This is because, contrary to what much of the aforementioned commentariat may say, Truss’s career has been massively enhanced by positive discrimination. Hers was one of the faces on David Cameron’s A-list which sought to make the party’s candidate pool more inclusive. As the then recently retired Conservative MP Michael Portillo put it, the list was a means of making the current ‘reactionary and unattractive’ parliamentary party more appealing to voters. It was from this pool that other ‘talents’ emerged, such as Sayeeda Warsi and Anna Soubry.
Such initiatives go some way to explain the progressive outlook of much of the parliamentary party these days. One can’t help but wonder that Truss aligned her Cabinet to be diverse in such a way that her government can be shielded from accusations of racism and so on, given that the makeup of it would suggest otherwise.
However, such a bone-headed move will not work for a simple reason: the left don’t care about diversity at all, especially when their political opponents do it. They claim to do so to pander to their radical internal supporters and left-wing campaign groups who care far more about this stuff than most do. In short, it is a matter of winning power for them, nothing more and nothing less.
Henceforth, whenever their right-wing opponents play the same game, they claim that such diversity is either fake or (more insidiously) that such people are traitors to their minority group. Hence it’s seen as acceptable in their circles when the left-wing gal-dem magazine stated that ‘skin folk really are not always kinfolk’ in relation to Priti Patel when she was appointed Home Secretary. Or former Labour MP Emma Dent Coad calling Conservative Shaun Bailey a ‘token ghetto boy’. Or why leftist James O’Brien can claim on his radio show that one of Boris Johnson’s first Cabinets was such an example of fake diversity in action.
Beyond this, it does nothing to improve the lives of those in the country, many of whom are struggling due to the unintended (albeit predicted) consequences of lockdown. To make things worse, such a strategy openly indicates that current party leadership aren’t going to take such matters seriously.
How is Truss going to tackle our woke culture when she was a direct beneficiary of it? How serious does her government consider the matter of immigration, given the absence of a reference to it in her first speech as PM (doing another Thatcher impression)? How is a government that is not seemingly serious about attacking wokeness in our institutions going to tame and hold to account the managerial state which has left many of our public and private institutions (some of them necessary for society to function) in a state of disrepair?
One thing is certain. As much of the party faithful cheer on diversity at party events in order to own the left, many people will still struggle to make ends meet, especially as winter approaches, with few in government ready to act or care about the unfolding disaster before us.