Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for June 1st, 2013

Vince Cable on Race Equality

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 1st June, 2013

Vince CableIt is one thing to hold noble principles regarding race equality, or even to formulate policies that aim to tackle disadvantage and discrimination. But it quite another to have to deliver a fairer society and equal opportunities — especially when one is a Liberal Democrat Minister in a Coalition government numerically dominated by the Conservatives. But in his key role at the Department of Business, Industry and Skills, Vince Cable deals with the nitty gritty of delivery as well as working with enterprises, both public and private, to improve their record on equality issues. The public sector is way ahead of the private sector in terms of racial equality, Vince told the Liberal Democrat Race Equality conference* in Shoreditch, London, today. But even in institutions such as universities, in which in principle people are in principle free of blatant prejudice they may not be aware of unconscious bias. There is no denying the fact that there is a disproportionate under-representation of ethnic minorities at senior levels in all sorts of organisations and institutions. Vince also noted that the old politics along left-right lines has largely given way to a kind of identity politics, which can itself have negative aspects. Picking up on the two key themes of the conference, education and employment, he urged British business to be more like German business regarding training opportunities. He has hauled some business leaders in to his department to get them to start thinking more critically about how they are dealing with related issues. Of course, no single Liberal Democrat Minister can solve problems overnight, much less overcome stereotypes and change people’s behaviour, especially when there are Tory Cabinet colleagues who question the whole race equality agenda. Indeed, the Tories would have liked to scrap the Equalities Commission, which is not something the LibDems could allow. Moreover, a great deal of work still needs to be done. Although many of us living in London may be lulled into the comfortable feeling that we live in a happy, secure rainbow nation the facts often speak otherwise.

*the conference was organised by the Social Liberal Forum and Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats   Links and

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