Monday, September 24, 2007

The Wrong Numbers

Hazel Blears
Chipmunk Racing - Still Legal
Hazel Blears' eagle eyes have spotted yet another case of 'under representation'. This time it is the composition of local government that is the alleged problem.

I shall be fair to Ms Blears and say that she does not make the usual accusations of some form of discrimination being in play, or try to lie the problems, if they be so, of the minorities at the feet of what I guess we must call 'the majority'. For the time being she seems to prefer encouraging these communities to come forward in greater numbers, but as we know to often a NuLab carrot very quickly can become a stick to beat the majority with.

Yet again we are presented with the usual list of small percentages of different minority groups in town halls up and down the country. As usual, there are no numbers for those who stood as candidates, or those who applied to one or the other of the major parties to stand for them, so it's not entirely clear what the true scale of any problem might be, or identify where it may lie.

In one sense I think it is a good thing that there is as broad a mix of people at all levels of elected office, but I still struggle with the idea that certain communities can only be represented by one of their own.

Naturally, as a generally Conservative leaning voter I had many reasons to dislike the result of the recent Ealing Southall bye-election. From my point of view though, the most distasteful aspects was the ruthless exploitation of almost tribal divisions by all major parties. What they all seemed to forget is that there will always be a minority and by allowing certain ethnic issues an unwarranted prominence over most other areas of policy debate, anyone not part of the 'winning' community are likely to feel more alienated than before from British political life.

It might be said that it's easy to say this as a white, native British male, but personally, I just want to be represented by someone who backs the right policies, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual preference. I just feel that the obsession with the make up of our representatives is more likely to divide than unite us, and distract our eyes from more important issues.

No comments: