So, this evening I was invited to be a guest speaker on BBC Radio Nottingham. The discussion was on the Cabinet reshuffle and race relations within British politics. Due to time constraints I was unable to say everything that I wanted to but that’s the nature of the radio and indeed media so I thought this was a perfect excuse to write a blog post.
Right, so my thoughts on the Cabinet reshuffle? Well, there are 27 Cabinet members, only 4 are women, 17 of them are Oxbridge educated, 12 are under 50 and they all of them are white. It is the first time in 10 years that that the Cabinet has been all white so this hardly gives the greatest impression on the Conservative Party’s commitment to equality and representation. The removal of the only non-white Cabinet member, Baroness Warsi, only goes to reinforce the dominant perception that Conservatives are white, male and privileged. For many people within Black communities the appointment within the Cabinet helped to break this perception as she is from the North and is a working class, Muslim woman however, her demotion is seemingly reinforcing the criticisms that even some Conservative members had of her tokenistic value with the Party and indeed the Cabinet. Warsi was the first ever female Muslim Cabinet member and what made her stand out to many people was that she was an example of how hard work and commitment can allow people to achieve high positions within mainstream politics.
Warsi’s demotion clearly and unequivocally shows that Cameron and ultimately the Conservative Party are more concerned with appeasing her critics than actually making any real attempts to engage with Black communities. What’s interesting is that the Conservative Party fully acknowledges that it is these very communities that could determine whether or not they win the next general election.
So, to what extent will this Cabinet and indeed reshuffle affect the Black vote? Initially, I thought that it would affect the vote greatly and any gains that the Conservatives may have made from the appointment of Warsi has now been lost with her demotion and then I remembers that traditionally Black people have voted for Labour. So, if anything, Black people will be more inclined to vote Labour over the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.
Oh, I mustn’t forget our new Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller. Miller is so against equality that it’s actually way beyond a joke. She is against same-sex couples adopting, she is against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would give lesbian couples the ability to receive fertility treatment, she is against the process of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill and she is in favour of defining homophobia, racial hatred and prejudice as simply just ‘freedom of speech.’ She is anti-multiculturalism, anti-LGBT and pro-life. I can’t help but think that Cameron was wondering what he could do to really piss off the British public even more than he already continues to by appointing Miller as the Minister for Women and Equalities. I mean, really?! REALLY?! Wow. -_-
I think I’ve slated the current Cabinet enough for now but is our Shadow Cabinet any better? Well, there’s 11 women, 9 people are Oxbridge educated, 15 of them are over the age of 50 and there are to Black ministers (one Asian and the other from African origin). On the face of it they seem to have gender equality or rather gender representation down. They have more ministers from grammar and state schools and they have 2 Black people which is a damn sight better than the Conservatives, erm, none… But of course there’s always room for improvement.
I am a believer in representative democracy in terms of representation from the political parties and also a Cabinet that reflects the demography of the people it claims to represent. I believe that the latter is more in line with the Greek idea of democracy as being people power or power to the people. Clearly, our current Cabinet is failing to represent the working class, women and Black communities. When you out that into perspective, they are failing to represent 60% of the population of the United Kingdom. This obviously gives me so much hope and indeed faith in our new Cabinet…
Edit: I forgot to add the link to the interview. Here it is… Feel free to have a listen to the interview from 1:14:00 so that’s an hour and 14 minutes into the show.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Cabinet reshuffle.