Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There are more than 15 ethnic minority MPs

At the end of last week and over the weekend as a result of the Barack Obama victory there has been a lot of commentary about representation of different groups in Parliament. Specifically, Trevor Phillips from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who say in a Times interview that political parties were institutionally racist and it's "no coincidence that there were only 15 ethnic-minority MPs".

Here's the thing though, as Croydonian mused, "when [were] Jewish folk airbrushed out of ethnic minority status in these parts?" A pretty good queston I thought, so I gave the Equality and Human Rights Commission a call yesterday to ask one simple question.

Are Jewish people considered an ethnic mintory in the UK in the view of the Commission? The answer was that they are both a religious group and a race and therefore the answer is yes, the Commission does indeed consider them an "ethnic minority".

So how does that ethnic minority fair in the politics of Britain? Well, we;ve had a Jewish Prime Minister; the current Foreign Secretary is Jewish, and his brother is at the Cabinet Office. not to mention a number of MPs from all sides of the House and Peers too.

So here's another question that follows on from Croydonian's musings. Is it not a little bit worrying that the top man at the Commission for Equality and Human Rights should, in an interview with a national newspaper, completely ignore an ethnic minority that his own Commission acknolwedges?

Or, is it more the case that "ethnic minority" is really just a euphemism for "non-white"? So much for equality huh?

Update: Forgot Ed Miliband had moved to be Secretary of State at the new Climate Change department. Point stands though.


Unsworth said...

Trevor Phillips has always taken this position. As far as he is concerned ethnic minorities are always black, brown people are an inferior sort of black, and white people of whatever ethnicity are inferior to all.

I know my place.

kinglear said...

I have long thought that Trevor Phillips was himself racist - as in against white people

Letters From A Tory said...

I agree with unsworth - ethnic minorities is just an expression of an inferiority complex, which Jewish people in this country don't have but 'non-whites' do. So, in effect, the Jewish community get ignored because they don't complain enough.

Anonymous said...

Ed Miliband is at Climate Change.

talwin said...

"The current Foreign Secretary is Jewish..........."

....and , for the Government alone, as are Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor & Minister for Justice; Margaret Hodge, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions; Peter Goldsmith, Attorney General; David Triesman, Minister at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills; Ivan Lewis, Minister of State for Health.

Not, then, such bad representation for an ethnic minority.

And, of course, lots of other individuals in high-profile positions.

Not a sheep said...

In the eyes of the "minorities industry" Jews are the wrong sort of ethnic minority; they over-achieve. Also by dint of their being the same religion as that of that "shitty little country" Israel, they are the oppressors not the oppressed.

John Pickworth said...

And where is our Chinese representation? A quarter of the world's population, deep historical ties between Britian and the Far East and yet? Well, I don't know really, maybe I'm being a tad over-sensitive but it seems odd we ignore that particular empty chair... and short-sighted given how important this ethnic group is likely to be in the near future.

As for Trevor Phillips, he's just one of those people that I cannot work out if I like of not.

Anonymous said...

One the world's explicitly racist regimes, South Africa, categorised their citizens into Black, White, Coloured and I think Asian. Being coloured had significant advantages over being black. But how to decide who was what? Clearly there was no point, as we tend to do, in allowing the citizen to take his own decision. So the SA police, who had to "police" the apartheid laws, concocted a practical test of their ow. They stuck a pencil in your haNir, but gently, and asked you to shake your head. If the pencil fell out, lo! you were coloured! If not.... I understand that UK government forms now require you to select from up to 28 ethnic categories. I also understand that the most disadvantaged group in education these days is considered to be working class white pupils of Irish descent.

When are we going to stop the madness of dividing us up into racial groups when there is NO objective way of measuring the criteria? When are we going to stop giving special rights to people based on un-checkable criteria? When are we going to stop creating and feeding a victim status in every so-called minority group? When are we going to start treating people EQUALLY?

John of Enfield

Croydonian said...

I can't recall whether it was a council or the CEHR's predecessor that defined Greek Cypriots as European and thus 'white' and Turkish Cypriots as Asian and thus 'black'.

As to folk of Chinese origin, there are no more than a handful of Chinese councillors in the UK from what I have been able to discover. Then again, who knows how many Chinese folk have ever applied to stand for a party interest?

Anonymous said...

A friend of my wife's was joining her local library and the form asked for her 'ethnicity'. "Do I have to fill this in?" she asked. The assistant said "You don't have to but it helps us if your do."

She filled it in as 'Cape Coloured'. The assittant looked at it and announced "That's not on our list!"

"Well it was what was on my South African Apartheid Passbook, so it'll have to do for ******* Council as well!"

Exit to embarrased mutterings.

Anonymous said...

@ John of Enfield - couldn't agree more.

I recently applied for employment with a large consultancy house who shall remain nameless, but I call them Accenture.

They sent me one of those UK govt forms for ethnic determination - I refused to fill it in and sent it back with "I do not see the relevance of this" written at the top.

It took less that 24 hrs for my application to be rejected.

Good. I don't want to work for a company that actively practices racial discrimination.

Glyn H said...

Ed Stourton had Phillips back-tracking and nicely on the run last week on Today, very politely of course!

And a couple of cheers for David Davies, mistakenly invited for David Davis, who told the dinner of the Black and Asian police Association that its very existence was racist!

The minorities should wake hard and fast to the fact that they are privileged to be here and should seek to abide by our laws and customs. As do the Poles from the 30’s, Jews of many generations, several sets of East Europeans, one family known to me personally – so of course they do not count; they were ‘victims’ in their home states of pogroms etc but are not victims here – any more than our current couple of generation are. But oh the whining and hand wringing of the Pollys and Harriets, Jackies and other apologists for those who would do anything to wound our country to salve their middle class angxt!

Anonymous said...

I assume that Disraeli is your Jewish Prime Minister. Of course, he was in fact Church of England, his father having converted. I suppose he was Jewish in some sort of racial sense, but I thought only the Nazis really believed that kind of thing.

dizzy said...

Are you trying to imply that considering Jewishness to be a race imakes one a Nazi? If that is the case then you best email the Commission for Equality and human Rights.

Anonymous said...

I (anonymous 11:17) boobed and bungled re Disraeli. He was indeed an Anglican, but continued simultaneously to consider himself a Jew. His father did not, it seems, convert although he did bring up his children as Christians, strange as it may seem.

As to Dizzy's question, I don't really think that considering Jewishness to be a race makes one a Nazi. I was being intemperate and apologise for that. I get carried away sometimes. Yet how does one move away from seeing every one through a racial lense , as the Equality people seem to?

RobertD said...

I am not one for swearing except under extreme provocation, but whenever I get a government form that asks for ethnic origin when (nornally)it is irrelevant to the matter in hand I have taken to writing NONE OF YOUR F***ING BUSINESS over it.

Probably why I didn't very far with an application for and NHS job which wanted disclosure of enthnicity, religion, sexuality and marital status before any questions as to whether I was qualified to do the job.

The only way we can kill this silly industry is to refuse to cooperate at every stage. If they don't have the data then they can't keep on with the irrelvant analyses.

Then perhaps we can get back to dealing with people as individuals who come with their own personal style, strengths and weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

Virtually every black voter interviewed during the recent election in the USA declared that he was voting for Obama, "because he is black".
In general they showed no concern for his politics, just his skin.
In my book this is straight racism. If a white man had said the same about voting for a white candidate there would have been hell to pay.
There was much comment about "Racist America" during various debates. However, taking into account that there is I believe only about 12% black in the usa, it must have taken a heavy support of white voters for any black American to get into congress.
Compare this to the racist 95% black vote for Obama.

Paul said...

This has just raised its ugly head again. Phillips is still denying people-hood to Jewish people, as is the Government.
I'll say it here, so that everyone knows:
Phillips is a racist