“How Fair is Britain?” That is the question asked recently by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) asked. And you should look away now if you haven’t already guessed the answers.
Unfortunately, I suspect that you have. The results of taxpayer-funded “fairness” reports in countries such as Britain are more predictable than a Baath Party victory in a Syrian election. In genuinely unfair societies, such reports would deliver a whiter-than-white Daz conclusion.
But, just as predictably, in Britain two primary findings emerge. The first is that signs of unfairness exist in society. The second is that only through compiling further such reports can we get near to “tackling” this. The EHRC’s is, we are told, a triennial study.
Since we are clearly going to have to keep paying for this, it is presumably too late to ask any of the gaping fundamental questions, not least about the meaning of this new religion of “fairness”. Has anybody asked? Does anybody know? On reading the EHRC’s work it becomes clear that they have an realistic “vision”, which they speak of at length. Which brings me to the more troubling follow-on. More concerning than the absence of fundamentals is the veering away from anything that smacks of accommodation (where it is practical) or solutions (where they are not).
Take the report’s finding that “particular groups, including Gypsies, Travellers and some types of migrants, are still likely to encounter negative attitudes”. While deploring this sad situation, a follow-on question needs to be asked: “How could this not be the case?’ If you are one of those who wake to find a community of Travellers at the end of your garden you may well express a negative attitude towards them. That doesn’t mean you shout abuse at them, burn down their caravans or shoot their dogs. But, by the end of their stay — especially if it has been a protracted one — they may well feel that they have been the recipient of negative attitudes. As may the householder.
But aside from the hurt feelings, what does this mean? And how on earth could you stop it? The only way to eradicate such negative attitudes entirely would be for Gypsies to stop moving around, settle down and pay taxes. Or for everybody else to open up their land to Gypsies for nothing. What here is possible? What is even desirable? And why bother pointing out the trend as a “challenge”, if there is nothing practical that can change it?
More troubling though is another example, because in this case the solution does exist — indeed has long been obvious. How Fair is Britain? discovers that “achievement is higher for those pupils whose first language is English when compared to pupils who have English as an additional language”.Now I hate to bang an old drum, but when the Bradford head-teacher Ray Honeyford pointed this out in the Salisbury Review almost 30 years ago he was hounded by exactly those people now picking over the educational pile-up he saw coming.
And here we get to the core of the problem. It is no longer the case that our country is filled with elites who do not recognise our problems. And it is no longer the case that they remain unwilling to mention them as it once was. The crippling disaster for 21st-century Britain is that it will not permit itself to mention or even consider the answers to problems that have at last been identified.
Most of the problems the EHRC has identified could be solved by stopping mass immigration, enforcing strict entry requirements to Britain and expelling illegals. It could also be solved by ensuring that anyone who does come into the country has to speak the language and that those here who wish to have access to public services are expected to learn it.
This isn’t way-out-there stuff. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has started saying some of it. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have begun to do some of it. The new Dutch government is likely to go further. But in consensus-politics Britain it is apparently impossible for anyone merely in quango-power even to speak about any of this.
The EHRC boasts that it has a “vision”. It says that it is not only there to “challenge discrimination” but to spread that vision. This is a vision of “a society at ease with its diversity, where every individual has the opportunity to achieve their potential and where people treat each other with dignity and respect.”
Even if all of this was agreed to be desirable, possible and the job of government it would not follow that the right solutions are the EHRC’s. The answers staring everybody in the face are the answers that bodies such as this not only will not but apparently cannot give. How unfair to Britain is the Equality and Human Rights Commission?