The BBC, typically gleeful at the chance of branding Nigel Farage a racist this week, barely mentioned the legislation he was actually criticising, let alone followed it up with a reasonable discussion.
I am talking about the 2010 Equality Act, a Harriet Harman hangover that a Conservative Home Secretary, one Theresa May, chose to sign off with her personal endorsement as one of her very first actions on taking office.
Because there was no discussion of the substance of Mr Farage’s comments – beyond their supposed racist intentions – the broadcaster failed to point out what most people have forgotten, if they ever knew. It is that the original race relations legislation of 1965 not only outlawed discrimination on the grounds of colour, race and ethnic origins but on the grounds of nationality too.
As far as I could make out from the selected clips we were treated to in advance of the full interview, it was national origins, not race, that Nige was largely on about repealing.
And not unreasonably so. After all, who back in 1965 could have foreseen the decline of the economically active British male (working class and of all colours)? Who would have predicted how working men would be pushed to the social margins of society – not just by technological change but by an ever growing and ever more subsidised part-time female labour force? Who then would have anticipated the huge and sudden arrival of a better-educated, better-motivated and cheaper Eastern European workforce following EU enlargement in 2004 and the impact of the economic crisis on an economically unviable EU?
All these things have happened, but neither David Cameron, Sadiq Khan, Ed Miliband or the BBC seems prepared to discuss them in light of the orthodoxies the equalities legislation has driven. Better just to discredit Mr Farage, they think.
You might have thought that employers’ inability to discriminate in favour of British workers mattered. Apparently not.
This is not the only restraint on employers’ freedom that results from this repressive Act. They are free neither to be efficient nor to exercise their own judgement on their social responsibility.
As far as I can glean, Mr Farage only touched on its various perils and injustices that need repealing when interviewed by that supremo of cultural commissars – Trevor Phillips, the former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, itself brought into being by the Equality Act 2006.
Perhaps Nigel did take him on. Perhaps he asked him why an unelected quango, led by an unelected “politician’s friend” appointee has the right to promote and enforce racial equality, equal opportunities (including gender equality, sexual orientation, religion and belief) and disability rights – in the workplace and elsewhere.
Maybe Nigel pointed out that this is an infringement of liberty – indeed of the human rights of employers. Maybe the selective scraps of the interview were leaked because he had the temerity to point out what’s wrong with its social engineering brief and the appalling sum it has cost.
In case he didn’t, I suggest he gets Dominic Raab MP to brief him. Raab spotted early on that the Act ‘licensed’ positive discrimination in recruitment when several candidates are as qualified as each other.
“In the Soviet style double-speak of the Equality and Human Rights Commission this is merely ‘positive action’”, Raab wrote.
“Yet, when it comes to offering a job, the decisive factor may now ultimately be race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, philosophical belief or other social factors – positive discrimination by any other name.” Not on ability or other desired characteristics.
It is about time a prominent politician pointed out how this robs individuals of drive and self-motivation; how it undermines the achievements and abilities of the hard working and truly gifted and is to the detriment of the country.
Mr Farage has the ability to steal the headlines. He should use it to expose the cost the Equality Act imposes on the public sector, which has a duty to promote equality. The annual cost of compliance was estimated by the Government as up to £26 million – almost £18 million of which would be borne by schools. God knows what it has turned out to be.
Yes, the Act’s regulations require over 25,000 schools, police forces, councils and other public bodies to publish annual reports on the diversity of their workforce, and on their efforts to promote and support groups that are disproportionately under-represented.
I am sure, Nigel, that is not how you wish to see taxpayers’ money spent. Take advantage. There is plenty of mileage to be had from the feared and loathed equalities agenda.