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18 Dec, 2020 09:56

Liz Truss’s right-wing equality plan deserves a chance, because weak woke politicians have got the UK nowhere

Liz Truss’s right-wing equality plan deserves a chance, because weak woke politicians have got the UK nowhere

The Conservative equalities minister has laid out her new approach for delivering equality, but it’s already been attacked by virtue-signalling lefties accusing her of whitewashing British history and implicit racism.

The UK is officially four nations, but it’s essentially two: the haves and the have-nots. In an effort to combat this schism, Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, delivered a controversial speech billed as the New Fight for Fairness. It was refreshing to see a politician so firmly nail her colours to the mast, making it clear that she’s shunning the left-wing hobby horses of “identity politics and loud lobby groups”.

Truss’s upfront approach “will be founded firmly on Conservative values”, and that’s exactly what we need – not to subscribe to Conservative or progressive viewpoints, but for policies to be objectively presented for what they are. For too long, the British political scene has been arguing over the same small patch of grass. Since the days of Tony Blair, our timid politicians have battled over the inoffensive middle ground and attempted to claim it as a moral triumph over evil ideologies.

We’ve traded prime ministers and governments, but our direction of travel has stayed firmly in the middle of the road. This has resulted in continued, unabated dancing around issues without ever calling a spade a spade. It’s about time someone said, “I’m a Conservative. I don’t agree with the left. And here is how I want to do it.” People have become too comfortable with labelling right-wing individuals racist, in the same way others disregard all those on the left as communists. 

The focus of what Truss sees as the true barrier to equality in the UK is the geographical divide. London and the South East of England is by far the most affluent and influential part of the country. That’s not to say everyone there is luxuriating in financial comfort, but, as a region, it's far more prosperous than the North of England, parts of Wales and the central belt of Scotland. Truss isn’t aiming to reach groups via skin colour, ethnic origin or sexuality – her game is geography. She’s going to use a carpet-bomb approach to promoting equality, hitting entire areas of the country and including as many people as possible. She lamented how the equality debate is currently framed: “by those who believe people are defined by their protected characteristic … and not by their individual character.” Society is like a Matryoshka doll – our gender, roots, accent, race and religion split us into smaller and smaller communities.

This is why most people agree with the aims of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, but so many detest how it planned to achieve them. Some activists believe you have to segregate communities to strengthen them, before removing the artificial support and allowing everyone to regroup. Others, such as Truss, believe that is a fool’s errand. “I am calling time on ‘pink bus’ feminism, where women are left to fix sexism and campaign for childcare,” she said. “Rather than virtue signalling, or campaigning … this government is focused on delivering a fairer and more transparent society that works for all.”

We all have our views on Truss’s initiative, and we can ultimately make them known at the ballot box. But what we can’t have is the prevailing game of pass the parcel and throwing scorn on anyone for not subscribing to what the woke desire and the timid middle are too scared to counter. There was a fair degree of publicity prior to Truss’s speech, along with a taster of the content. But before she had delivered it, both the BBC and the Guardian had run pieces criticising her for “whitewashing British history” and revealing that, of the 250 trade advisors she has appointed, 95 percent have been white. But why should that matter? It’s disingenuous to lambast someone for not meeting some imagined target or ideal they’re not aiming for. It also sounds the racist dog-whistle, so the actual content of the speech was glossed over by many. The same happens in reverse, when anyone who mentions BLM is labeled a Marxist.

Truss offered an insightful look at the government’s roadmap, saying: “The focus on protected characteristics has led to a narrowing of the equality debate that overlooks socio-economic status and geographic inequality.” Another part of its plan is to let everyone see the statistics behind the spin: “Techniques like unconscious-bias training, quotas and diversity statements … do nothing to make the workplace fundamentally fairer.”

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Finally, we have a grown-up in the room. Somebody comfortable enough in their own skin to shun the hallowed small patch of grass in the middle and pitch their tent to the right. There’s no guarantee it will work, but it seems a smarter approach than the way the issue has been handled over the past few decades.

If geographical considerations had been addressed, would Brexit have been so toxic, or even have happened in the first place?

If small-town England hadn’t been tossed aside, would we have had mass hysteria around Asian grooming gangs, when, in fact, new research shows the practice is mainly the preserve of white males? 

The racist mindset of ‘these bloody foreigners coming here and taking our jobs’ only exists thanks to decades of government neglect of areas outside the London bubble. Lots of the people feeling these sentiments aren’t worldly – they live a basic existence and don’t know how to express what has happened to their modest lifestyle, so they lash out and set off a chain reaction. Factories closing, rising drug abuse, poor educational standards and pitiful public transport systems have all amplified the torrent of frustration and bitterness beyond the South East. And that acidic concoction’s effects have then been repackaged into anti-blackness, hatred of gays and other forms of discrimination.

It’s time to dispense with the snappy titles. Let’s fix Britain and give everyone something to be proud of. You might not vote Conservative nor want to self-identify as right-wing, but Liz Truss does. Her plan may not be a panacea, but the current approach has reduced us to a divided nation, nervously on edge for fear of offending anyone. Give Truss the space to level things up and get us all back on an even keel.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.