Here’s the thing about celebrating the supposedly ‘diverse’ candidates for Prime Minister.
Whose interests do the likes of Kemi Badenoch and Rishi Sunak serve beyond their own? Widen that to Suella ‘de vil’ Braverman –eliminated from the race last week – and Priti Patel. I’ve included Ptatel because, even though she decided not to stand, she is still being cited as a triumph of diversity.
Where is the policy from any of them that will make life better for the UK’s Black and Brown men, women and children? Particularly given the well-documented statistical disadvantages in areas such as health, education, immigration and the justice system?
Braverman wants to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights, for goodness sake. Patel still wants to push her reprehensible ‘ship first, ask questions later’ Rwanda policy.
Badenoch, the daughter of a Nigerian oil baron, is being lauded as “refreshing” and “straight-talking” when she appears to lack any kind of substance on, say, dealing with the cost-of-living crisis, the economy or the NHS, let alone progress for Black or Brown people.
Instead she wants to water down the Online Safety Bill – designed to protect you, me, our children and millions across the country from the scourge of social media.
She also twists arguments about Critical Race Theory to wind up her supporter base.
It will always be good to see Black and Brown faces in the positions of power to which we should all aspire.
But the whole point of diversity is to embolden other demographics to champion issues for those either overlooked or disregarded. It is not about optics. And it most certainly is not about promoting individuals who legitimise racism.
Badenoch, Patel and Braverman empower the dinosaurs within the Tory party – and out in the wider country – to feel comfortable once again expressing xenophobic viewpoints and rejecting equality.
In fact, the Tories are following a growing trend of businesses and organisations either appointing, in effect, Black and Brown racial gatekeepers, knowing that outside critics will run scared of challenging them on race.
Or promoting individuals who refuse to rock the boat and instead harden the message.
Either way, the culture within their companies and organisations remains the same. The resistance to change remains the same –but the gatekeepers get rich and the illusion is created that their employers are somehow progressive.
Look, of course you can be Black or Brown and be a Tory. Historically some African and Asiatic migrants to the UK come from countries with caste hierarchies. We are most definitely not all one homogenous group that thinks the same. Nor should we be.
But don’t tell me that we should be breaking out the bunting for replacing a system previously reeking of self-serving white ministers with one reeking of self-serving Black or Brown ones.
Diversity is challenging the established order. Not reinforcing to that order by telling those in power what they want to hear.