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Are the Left the REAL racistz?

Right-wingers adopting identity politics are doing the bidding of the left

Artillery Row

For the first time in Britain’s history, there are no white men in the three Great Offices of State. Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is the son of Ghanaian immigrants, Suella Braverman follows Priti Patel as another home secretary of South Asian origin, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was born in Lewisham to a midwife called Evelyn from Sierra Leone. 

The rest of the Truss ministry also boasts senior politicians such as the Baghdad-born two-month chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants Kemi Badenoch, another minister with South Asian heritage in Ranil Jayawardena, and Alok Sharma, who was born in the Uttar Pradesh state of northern India and has remained in government because the “COP26 President” role still exists, for reasons that escape me and everyone I’ve asked.

I can imagine the email fired out of Labour HQ when the late-night ministerial announcements came trickling onto Twitter: “please, for the love of God, criticise the new appointments all you want, but do NOT mention race.” Additional warnings would have added that anyone using the term “coconut” or “oreo” would be swiftly defenestrated from Parliament and into the Thames.

Remember when Jeremy Corbyn promised to “unlock” the potential of Britain’s ethnic minorities? That thoughtless announcement was roasted for months, with the Tories’ various minority personalities queueing up to plaster their own jibe over the tweet. Sajid Javid took particular glee in his swipe. I can imagine that Labour HQ was desperate to avoid another PR disasterclass of this scale, or worse.

But as it happened, besides journalist Iain Macwhirter’s swiftly deleted “coconut cabinet” jibe, the only people keen to make a big song and dance about the minority backgrounds of Britain’s new cabinet were Tories and right-leaning journalists. Taking a break from their usual anti-identity politics approach, parliamentarians and commentators leapt onto social media to wax lyrical about the lack of white men on show.

Liberals have often failed to live up to their own standards

Conservative YouTuber and regular guest on TalkTV’s “plank of the week” programme Mayhar Tousi leapt onto Twitter to post: “This will trigger the left because of their identity politics obsession: For the first time in British history, BOTH Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are female.”

But if you search mentions of “identity politics” from his account, you can find dozens of Tweets complaining about left-wing identitarianism. In 2018, when Cathy Newman said that Jacob Rees-Mogg sitting on a panel of five men was like looking at “the politics of 1978”, Tousi called it “an unnecessary and sexist comment”, adding that it was “identity politics at its worst”. 

In February 2020, amid a significant Cabinet reshuffle of the second Johnson ministry, Sky News activist Beth Rigby remarked that “there is persistently poor gender balance at the top of govt”, lamenting that the “number of women in cabinet is not expected to rise from 7/22 (little better than 5/22 in 2011)”.

Tousi was outraged. “Oh stop with this identity politics nonsense,” he cried, “this is the government not the Golden Globes. Merit over gender.” Merit over gender, indeed. This mentality suddenly went missing when Truss made Therese Coffey her deputy.

Other posts urge his followers to “reject identity politics and collectivism”, but then we find Tousi and other rightists jumping in on the identitarian posting as soon as they think it’s a win for them.

But it’s not. The only possible outcomes from conservatives adopting these left-wing strategies is that their opponents become more consistent in their identitarian arguments, which is obviously undesirable, and conservative institutions becoming increasingly beholden to these perspectives.

Even Theresa May, whose 3-year and 11-day stunted stint as prime minister put Britain on the verge of full-blown socialism and constitutional disarray, decided to use Truss’s first Prime Minister’s Questions appearance as an opportunity to boast about disparity between Tory and Labour female premierships. “3-0” she said, whilst Labour’s front bench looked glum. The worst economic and geopolitical crisis in a generation threatens to wreak havoc on our nation, forcing us into anarchy and poverty, but these precious moments of preparation are being chewed up by some who would rather talk about how diverse the Conservatives have become.

Sadly, none of this is new. Ever since the Great Awokening kicked off just under a decade ago, big-name conservative pundits and personalities have been jumping at the bit to point out the left’s hypocrisy on diversity. As liberals have emboldened their calls for quotas and complained about an insufficient range of races and genders in everything from political parties to sitcoms, they have often failed to live up to their own standards. But every time this happens, instead of pointing out that the demands for diversity are divisive and unnecessary, there are always some on the Right side of the aisle keen to become left-wing for just this one issue, just this one time. 

GB News correspondent Tom Harwood said earlier this year that he reflected on “just how so very white the EU is”, asking how people would react if a 21st century British or American cabinet resembled the Brussels commission. 

A more extreme version of this argument is regularly delivered in the US, where Republican commentators will argue that the Democrats are the REAL racists because of the party’s historical opposition to Republican President Abraham Lincoln’s plans for black citizenship rights.

This criticism only flows in one direction

Noting that they can’t “win” on the great diversity debate regarding the new Truss government, left-lib journalists, commentators and politicians have shifted to adopting a new argument: it’s not race and gender that matters, but viewpoint diversity. “The News Agents” — a new podcast show composed of washed up BBC personalities and young guns seeking more cash, Emily Maitlis, Lewis Goodall and Jon Sopel — recently outlined that “while diversity is about ethnicity and skin colour, it’s also about diversity of thought, diversity of opportunity”, complaining that a great proportion of the cabinet is privately educated. Of course, this argument is pants because there is often more diversity of thought at elite private schools, where the sons and daughters of the African, Asian, American and European international city classes meet with British children, many of whom are on significant bursaries and do not hail from deep-pocketed pastures.

This overall shift has left us in a bizarre position where both sides are adopting the perspectives that their opponents usually trot out. The rightists are lamenting Labour’s pale, male and stale hierarchy, whilst the leftists worry that whilst the Tories have plenty of racial and gender diversity, they don’t have the intellectual spread that we need to ensure the best ideas rush to the surface. 

But of course you can’t expect that the News Agents will apply the same criticism to any other major British institutions. They do not and never will look at our universities and complain about the lack of intellectual diversity. They’ll never turn to their former employer, the BBC, and wonder if the range of opinions reflects the country and ensures lively debate. They’ll never look at branches of government and ponder if there are enough Austrian economists in the Treasury and carceral criminologists in the Ministry of Justice. This criticism only flows in one direction, and it will disappear as soon as the conversation moves away from the cabinet’s backgrounds.

Tempting though it might be for many conservatives to point out the hypocrisy of their opponents on issues of diversity, by making these arguments they are only doing the left’s bidding. The urge to dismiss white men in senior positions of power as somehow instinctively evil, sexist and racist is a terrible scourge on our culture. Any conservative politician or commentator who shows off about the lack of white men in charge of their team is dousing those sick, disuniting flames with plenty of fuel. Stop it. The unthinking urge to flap over diversity and complain about “whiteness” and the false belief that an organisation with lots of men in charge must be “toxic” are both evil mentalities. We don’t need to foster them on the right, too.


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