Thursday, January 20, 2005
Keith Vaz and the lack of government race equality
The results are actually quite shocking and I would encourage people to have a good read of the article.
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 PersonnelToday.com.