why Liz Truss’s government is showing poor diversity

12:14 pm, September 15, 2022, modified at 12:41 pm, September 15, 2022

Of the four important posts in the new British government, there are no white men. After defeating her opponent, Rishi Sunak, himself from a wealthy family from the Indian community who once settled in Kenya, Liz Truss, the third woman to hold the highest government office, has just been handed the Economy and Finance to Kwasi Kwarteng, who is from Ghana, Foreign Affairs to James Cleverly, of Sierra Leonean origin, and Home Affairs to Suella Braverman, of Indian and Mauritian origin.

These personalities are called to play an important role in the next few years so bear little resemblance to many of the approximately 160,000 members of the Conservative Party who have recently elected the new leader of their party, invested in the process of Queen Elizabeth II , two days before her death, to take over as head of government.

Has the British Conservative Party, whose militant base is white, male and middle-class, become the new symbol of diversity? Nothing is less certain. Behind this performance, which allows the party to project the image of a modern representative of British society (14% of the population from ethnic minorities according to the 2011 census), a more uniform political class shines . than it seems and united. by similar convictions and a homogeneous socio-demographic profile.

“Not too stale, pale and manly”

For several years, legislative elections have become an opportunity to see the emergence of a new political class that is younger, more feminine and more diverse – or, to use the established English formula, “less mature, less pale and less male” (“ less stale, pale and male”).

In the 2015 legislative elections, 41 so-called “BAME” (or “Black and Asian Minority Ethnic”) deputies (out of a total of 650) entered Parliament, including 23 Conservatives. In 2017, there were 52, including 19 Conservatives; and since the last election in December 2019, which allowed Boris Johnson’s party to win a strong majority, they are 65, including 22 Conservatives.

Within the Tories, this result is the result of a system established in 2006 by the new leader of the party, David Cameron, called “A-list” and favoring parliamentary candidacies from women and men from ethnic minorities. of the Conservatives.

Liz Truss herself has benefited from this device. But who are these 22 elected Conservatives of immigrant origin today, seven of whom have just joined Liz Truss’s new government?

A company that remains very liberal

Ideologically, they present a relatively homogeneous profile: most of them defend Brexit with passion and show ultra-liberal positions on economic and social issues. A survey I conducted of newly elected MPs in 2015 showed that ethnic minorities were over-represented among Brexiteers in the party. Out of a total of 17 MEPs with an immigrant background, 11 campaigned in favor of the country’s withdrawal from the EU, i.e. 64.7%, while from the entire parliamentary group (330), they did not 144 (43.6% ).

But this proportion is even higher among the newly elected Conservatives with an immigrant background, because of the 7 MPs concerned, 5 campaigned for Leave, i.e. 71.4%. Several explanations can be pursued, particularly their party choice in constituencies that are notoriously pro-Brexit… or their origins.

We can really understand the growing interest of these deputies, most of whom are from Commonwealth countries, for “open sea” diplomacy and not limited to the EU. Very critical, moreover, of the principle of free movement, which would have favored Eastern European immigration to the detriment of historical immigration from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular, these MEPs have always been passionate defenders of a “Global Britain” post-imperial , hyperglobal, open to the whole world but especially to the former colonies and dominions of the British Empire such as India or Australia.

In this specific context, the inclusive policy implemented by the Conservative Party to elect future MPs has proven to be very effective, diversity being seen as a reasonable strategy that allows these MPs to speak out there is nothing complicated about immigration and Brexit without fear of being accused of xenophobia.

Another ideological point of convergence between these representatives: a libertarian concept that calls for a great separation of the State. In 2012, Kwasi Kwarteng, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Priti Patel, the former Home Secretary (2019-2022), signed with Liz Truss and other colleagues a pamphlet titled. Britannia Unchained: Global Lessons for Growth and Prosperitywhich advocated the complete liberalization of the British economy, the extension of free and deregulated zones, minimum taxes and criticized the idleness of British workers.

The supporters of this trend, who can almost be called neo-Thatcherites, therefore find themselves now at the helm of a party that was nevertheless re-elected in December 2019 on the basis of an interventionist program intended to help of the poorest people in the North East of England, promising to “level-up” the standard of living of their inhabitants.

Erasing ethnicity in favor of conservative ideology

Most MPs from ethnic minorities say they represent their party first and foremost. Unlike their Labor counterparts, who are often elected in constituencies with large immigrant populations to protect the interests of the social categories they represent, their Conservative colleagues reject the idea of ​​serving only in the interests of groups.

They are even careful to distance themselves from it, sometimes acting against their interests: Priti Patel has characterized herself as an unyielding Minister of the Interior on immigration and especially severe towards illegal immigration ; when she was attorney general, Suella Braverman worked to eliminate diversity and inclusion training from her administration, deeming it a waste of public money.

Beyond their common convictions, elected Conservatives with an immigrant background also show a homogenous social profile. If we stay with the seven ministers concerned in the new government of Liz Truss, all from the middle class, mostly rich (especially Kwasi Kwarteng, son of a diplomat and a lawyer, or the Minister of Relations Intergovernmental and Equal Opportunities Nadhim Zahawi , son of a businessman of Kurdish origin living in Iraq, or the Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch, daughter of a doctor); all but two of them attended expensive private schools; and two ministers, Suella Braverman and Kwasi Kwarteng, studied at Cambridge University.

The latter, passed by the prestigious private boarding school for boys at Eton and the “Oxbridge” (formula reflecting the two most selective universities in the country, Oxford and Cambridge), is a pure product of elitist education. in English. All seven, except Nadhim Zahawi, form mixed couples with spouses who are not from ethnic minorities.

If these ministers do not hesitate to put their roots in order to clean up and modernize the image of their party, they are nevertheless radical conservatives who reject the very concept of “minority” and what it means. As the new Interior Minister Suella Braverman explained in justifying the end of diversity training in her former ministry:

(This reform) is divisive, not inclusive […] based on the assumption that as a woman of Asian origin, from the working classes, I must be a victim, oppressed. This is a false, divisive assumption.

Within the new government of Liz Truss, this diversity, very proud of the media, therefore as a beautiful showcase that allows her to appoint ministers who belong to the “hard” line of the party in the most sensitive topics such as the role of the State or national identity. One may fear that this is ultimately only an alibi that allows them to carry out painful reforms on the basis that their personal background exempts them from the beginning from possible criticism.

This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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