THE BLOG
09/11/2017 10:33 GMT | Updated 09/11/2017 10:37 GMT

Priti Patel Had To Go, But Suggesting She Benefited From Positive Discrimination Is Hypocritical

We must ask ourselves, is it really Priti Patel who has been benefiting from her race and ethnicity or have there been quotas which historically have been favouring individuals from the other end of the spectrum, namely those from public schools who are of a particular race and gender?

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It was only a matter of time before the Conservative government got itself into yet another scandal, the latest being Priti Patel's decision to meet with Israeli politicians, including the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without informing the Foreign Office.

Undoubtedly such a meeting that not only contradicts what is stated British Foreign Policy but also flouts international consensus by intending to conduct business in what is considered illegally occupied territory is wrong and warrants Priti Patel's resignation. Yet just when you think matters couldn't get much worse, up pops another Conservative MP, showing breathtaking ignorance and hypocrisy, claiming that Priti Patel's career was accelerated because she was 'Asian'.

Here comes the 'he/she only got to where they are because of a quota' argument. An argument that I've often heard directed towards people from ethnic minority backgrounds, usually by those who are very keen on shielding their own positions of privilege from scrutiny. Yet we must ask ourselves, is it really Priti Patel who has been benefiting from her race and ethnicity or have there been quotas which historically have been favouring individuals from the other end of the spectrum, namely those from public schools who are of a particular race and gender?

We already know that Britain has some of the lowest social mobility rates in the developed world. 24% of vice-chancellors, 32% of MPs, 51% of top Medics, 54% of FTSE-100 chief execs, 54% of top journalists, 70% of High Court judges went to private schools. It's pretty clear who has a stranglehold on public life in Britain.

Yet what are we then to make of those who will be screaming straight away 'but it's all about merit, if they're not good enough, they're not good enough'. Surely we only select on merit? But clearly, we don't. What are we to make of someone like Boris Johnson, our gaffe prone Foreign Secretary who remains in his post despite endangering the plight of jailed British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by saying that she had been teaching journalism. Yet another blunder in a catalogue of errors by a Foreign Secretary who clearly is no longer occupying his position on the basis of merit alone. If he had been, he'd have gone long ago.

Donald Trump unashamedly used his race and gender to get ahead in America, but the same voices that talk about diversity diluting the quality of work, very rarely mention how the likes of Trump have benefited from a quota that parachutes men with Trump's background into positions of power and influence despite lacking in quality. Do we really believe then that all those who come from our own country's privately educated elite all got to where they are based solely on merit and not because of the privileges that they have had?

Historically, quality of work has always been compromised by a lack of diversity, a problem that has been particularly acute in politics. Many tend to forget that only men from certain backgrounds held positions of power in Parliament and though there has been progress it has not occurred as quickly as it should. Vested interests opposed to wholescale change will always seek to defend their positions of privilege and shift the goalposts. Yet when the likes of Crispin Blunt MP want to suggest people from minority backgrounds only get ahead because of their race, they ought to remember that for centuries many from white, private school backgrounds have benefited from their backgrounds not only to get to the top, in spite of their lack of merit, but then have the ability to remain there even when their lack of merit is there for all to see. Just ask Boris Johnson.