Alexander Pelling-Bruce

Caroline Lucas and the problem with diversity

Caroline Lucas and the problem with diversity
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As Caroline Lucas found out last week, there comes a moment when a defective ideology collapses under the weight of its absurdities. For the doctrine of diversity, the meltdown happened when the former Green party leader was forced to apologise for including no black people in her all-women fantasy Cabinet. Labour supporters were particularly angry at Lucas's omission of Diane Abbott. Why hadn't the shadow Home Secretary been included?

Yet in leaving Abbott out, Lucas actually did Labour a favour. She showed, all too clearly, that even as a thought-experiment when you have controlled for sex, views on Europe, and position on the left/right spectrum, Diane Abbott still does not make the cut.

Unfortunately, Lucas then undermined her good work by apologising for flouting the doctrine. But it was too late. The flaws of focusing squarely on diversity – promoting white women at the expense of others, in this instance – had been exposed.

So what is this diversity doctrine? And why is it doomed to fail? It's worth thinking about the central tenets behind it. In short, these are:

Mediocracy (rule by the mediocre). Promotion of people on the basis of arbitrary group categories irrespective of competence. The members of any public body should be comprised of a panoply of society. This is more important than whether they are any good at the job.

Homogenisation. Getting people who look different to think the same. This is achieved by yoking them under the narrative of oppression and intersectionality, a concept that was invented to deal with the problems of arbitrarily dividing people into binary categories of white/black, straight/gay and able-bodied/disabled.

Exclusion (in the name of inclusion). This often comes at the cost of older white men, as Lucas's Cabinet choices demonstrated.

Those who promote diversity above all else will likely tell you that having people who think differently in an organisation is proven to produce better results. This can be true; groupthink is dangerous.

But in the context of race, the obsession with diversity rests on an unfortunate supposition: that brown-skinned people are likely to think differently to those with white skin. The problem with this is that if you believe positive characteristics can be predicated upon skin colour, then it follows that negative characteristics can too.

This is exactly the logic of racism. So whenever diversity warriors advance this argument, they are unthinkingly doing the racist's work for him. And why should I wish to be represented by a person of the same colour skin any more than I would want to be represented by someone of the same colour eyes? Or hair?

Race does not, of course, determine beliefs, values, habits, or customs. These are products of culture, be it national, tribal, local, religious, or mythical. Different cultures value different things. People of the same race belong to different cultures. Once those obsessed with the diversity agenda admit this truth, then their doctrine falls apart. No longer can they identify an unequal or disproportionate outcome along lines of race and conclude by that fact alone that there is an injustice.

This doesn't mean the end of this agenda will happen quietly. The story of oppression is an easy one to tell to mask the inadequacy of an individual, low expectations and aspirations of parents and teachers and the repeated failure of government policy. Unfortunately, the Conservative party in its capitulation to Tony Blair has swallowed the diversity agenda and both the myths of equality of opportunity and equality of outcome, hook, line and sinker. These are embedded in legislation by the Equality Act 2010, the first section of which imposes a statutory duty on public bodies to reduce inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.

There is good news though: many commentators have been putting up an admirable fight against this mistaken focus. But rather than go after this diversity agenda, perhaps the best form of attack is defence. As the Caroline Lucas episode revealed, those who seek to uphold the obsession with diversity are the ones who ultimately expose its flaws.

So, with this in mind, it's worth asking a question that doesn't get asked often: why are there no druids in Parliament? Surely they can’t be too busy venerating chthonic deities and looking after the environment? By my calculations, about one person out of every 2,000 is a druid, so for every three parliaments there should be one druid MP. Where are the druid access schemes? Until we resolve this burning injustice, summer solstice should be renamed Druid Awareness Day. And to make Parliament feel more inclusive, I propose the columns of the old Euston arch are dredged from the River Lea to erect a simulacrum of Stonehenge on College Green.

Or perhaps Caroline Lucas’s next fantasy cabinet will include druids, sprites, elves, – and even Diane Abbott.