The UK Labour Party and the System of Diversity

The UK Labour Party and the System of Diversity, by Helen Dale. Ben Cobley, a committed Labour Party activist who’s been run out of his own party on a rail for supporting Leave, has written a book on what is going on in the left today: The Tribe: The Liberal Left and the System of Diversity.


I expected a lament on the extent to which Labour is no longer the party of the working class but rather a party of what Thomas Piketty calls ‘The Brahmin Left’, but it is much more than that. The Tribe is an articulate, scrupulously fair but nonetheless root-and-branch attack on the ‘system and administration of diversity’, not only in UK Labour but also in other British institutions, including the civil service and the BBC.

The Tribe describes how Britain’s Labour Party (and much of the wider labour movement, as well as other institutions) has been taken over (even ‘stolen’) by a political ideology that maintains we all have fixed identities, rather than being members of more malleable social classes. This ideology — Cobley calls it ‘the system of diversity’ — bears little relationship to the traditional Labour project. Instead of trying to raise up the poor and downtrodden by providing them with tools to organise and educate themselves, Labour — and institutions that feed it or recruit from its ranks — now exists to further a regime where we all exist in relationships of oppressor and oppressed with everyone else. These relationships of oppressor, oppression and power are always and everywhere based on fixed forms of identity: sex, race, religion (Islam, in particular, is rendered immutable), sexual orientation, gender.

Under the ‘system of diversity’, victimhood never ends. … Certain groups must always be on the outer. Cobley calls them ‘the favoured’ and ‘the unfavoured’. The favoured include women, Muslims, and immigrants. The unfavoured include men and whites — but also uneducated people and most of the working poor. There are always victims, and always perpetrators. Oppression is systemic; it never ends, and can never end.

This has practical policy consequences. Cobley documents in mind-bending detail a regime of outrageous and systematic discrimination — in hiring, training, and in terms of financial largesse — across multiple institutions (including the BBC and civil service) and within Labour. The favouritism is meant to produce equality of outcomes, and diversity is treated as a per se good. ‘More women in STEM’ or ‘more BAME at the BBC’ or ‘more women in parliament’ are common catch-cries, with few arguments as to how this will improve STEM, the BBC, or Westminster. …

The new left’s PC is responsible for ghastly crimes:

Cobley tells the story of Rotherham through the lens of the system of diversity. He documents how leaders drawn from one of the system’s favoured groups — Pakistani Muslims — were able to cover up an extraordinary crime spree (at least 1400 children sexually abused in a single town). State institutions simply outsourced authority over that group to state-funded ‘community leaders’, especially Pakistani-background Labour Party councillors.

These individuals — by constantly referring to ‘community cohesion’ and making accusations of racism — were able to ensure police officers, teachers, and social workers from every kind of background were simply ignored when they pointed out that there was, in fact, a vast pool of criminality pullulating under their noses.

Criticism was construed as an attack on a group the ‘system of diversity’ favours, or even on the idea of diversity or variation itself. Meanwhile, politicians and civil servants higher up the food chain (overwhelmingly posh, even though drawn from Labour) simply rescinded responsibility for their constituents. …

One Labour MP (Rotherham’s Sarah Champion) did do the job of representing her constituents. And the full force of the ‘system’ was brought to bear in a way enormously destructive not only of her political career (which one expects, politics being a nasty game) but also of her ability to function as an adult human being. … The system set out to break her. Among other things, she now requires 24-hour security and is routinely deluged with vile abuse. …

The left now demonizes and makes life worse for the white working class, particularly males:

Cobley builds up a detailed portrait of systemic discrimination against an already disadvantaged group (poor whites, particularly poor white men). He may well have proven that social policy around ameliorating disadvantage has been misdirected, even flat wrong, for something like 20 years. Along every metric that matters — education, wealth, life expectancy, suicide rates — poor white men and boys are at the bottom of the heap, yet are weirdly written off as ‘privileged’ by the system of diversity. …

The left is having trouble because blank slate theory is obviously not true, which prevents equality of outcomes:

The problem with the system of diversity is that its focus on equality of outcomes across groups undermines what classical liberals call ‘moral egalitarianism’. Moral egalitarianism means we must weigh everyone’s interests equally, regardless of anything else about them. Our attributes and talents don’t determine how valuable we are as human beings. Our humanity comes first, because humans are equal in dignity and worth.

The uncomfortable reality is a meritocratic society is an unequal society, because those who are more talented in particular areas do better. …

That some people — both individually and on a group basis — are better at sums or faster in the fifty-yard dash seems trivially true. Unfortunately, much current policy is dedicated to handwaving away large average statistical differences across groups. Worse, people are born unequal, too — our aptitudes and interests have a genetic basis. …

All the while equality of outcomes is sought but not achieved, the foundation of liberal democracy is at risk: equal suffrage or ‘one-vote-one-value’ and equal treatment before the law. We are in danger of making moral egalitarianism dependent on equality of outcomes.