Thursday, January 20, 2005

Keith Vaz and the lack of government race equality

So, two entries down the page I talked about all Vaz's questions about ethnic minority appointments to governement departments. Well, that now makes a bit more sense... Asians yet to gain quango job equality in the Guardian, according to a survey published today from data compiled by our man Keith.

The results are actually quite shocking and I would encourage people to have a good read of the article.

Worst bits:

Eleven of 18 departments fail to appoint Asians in proportion to their numbers in Britain, says the survey, seen by the Guardian. A foreword written by the prime minister admits "there is still much to do".

The worst was the Northern Ireland Office, with four Asians in 1,002 quango posts available; at the the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, five out of 788 posts went to Asians, - 0.63% of the total, when Asians make up 3.96% of the population.

From the man himself:

Mr Vaz said ministers should insist shortlists for quangos included one Asian and one African-Caribbean person.

"The pool of talent is there," he said. "Whitehall departments are not taking seriously the commitment that has been shown by the prime minister that Britain is a culturally diverse society."

As for the methodology:

The survey took a year of parliamentary questions. Asian appointments could be identified by their names, but an attempt to find out how many African-Caribbeans had been appointed had to be dropped because they were not easily identifiable.

Names like Keith. But on a more serious note that points to the fact that there has been no gathering of data about ethnic minority appointments (confirmed by a spokesperson in the article).

Vaz's idea that shortlists should include an Asian and African-Caribbean candidate segue effortlessly in to discussion of whether or not there should be all ethnic minority shortlists for parliamentary candidates.

I covered Ethnic forums and affirmative action a few months ago. Yesterday I caught the tail end of a discussion on The Daily Politics but unfortunately no more details on it were to be found. In any case BBC News are reporting Malik rejects all-black MP lists. 'One of Labour's most senior Asians' Shahid Mailk wants targets, not lists.

Standing against him are Trevor Phillips, head of the CRE; the older and wiser Diane Abbot; Labour chairman Ian McCartney and, although he gets no mention in the article, Keith Vaz.

What say you? Can there be such a thing as positive discrimination? If there can be all-women shortlists why not all-BME shortlists?

Update: this story has also turned up, rather belatedly, in the Leicester Mercury: Asians not prominent - Vaz and Asians lose out in quang appointments from

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