Just what would be it take for the Guardian to stop suggesting Conservatives are racists? We now have the four great offices of state held by: a man baptised Catholic but now a functioning atheist, a man with a Jewish father but who was brought up in the Church of England, a son of Pakistani immigrants and of woman of Indian origin. But has it led to the Left championing what might – were the Cabinet a BBC programme – be celebrated as an explosion of diversity? You’ve guessed it. According to the Left, Boris’s Cabinet is not an example of ‘vibrant’ modern Britain in action, it is instead a case of the new PM ‘parading a set of token figures to legitimise his agenda’.
Those are the words of Kehinde Andrews, a Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, in an extraordinarily miserable piece in the Guardian. Let’s leave aside one obvious objection to these words – that anyone who described Diane Abbott or David Lammy as ‘token figures’ would have seconds before the Twitter mob descended and demanded their instant removal from any job or other position which they hold. But more poignant is how Andrews goes on to undermine his own case by making out that Sajid Javid, Priti Patel, James Cleverly, Alok Sharma and Munira Mirza aren’t really the placid nodding donkeys which one might associate with the words ‘token figure’. Far from it, it seems that they are the evil geniuses behind by the whole Johnson project. ‘They are,’ writes Andrews, ‘some of the most rightwing figures even within the Tory party’.
Diversity, for people like Andrews, does not extend to people being allowed to hold different political views. If you belong to a non-white ethnic group you are supposed to be on the Left. If, instead, you hold conservative views you are not merely like a traditional white, male conservative – who is so ignorant of his own privilege that he knows not what he does – you are far worse: you are a traitor. You are trampling on your own people.
Such an attitude is a way of seeing the world as divided into different racial groups who are, and always will be, in conflict with each other. We know there are a few racists in Britain – and that they are represented by all races – but as for most of us in modern Britain, I don’t think we really care much about race or ethnicity. I guess if you are a Professor of Black Studies – not so much an area of intellectual inquiry as a form of a political activism dressed up in academic clothes – you have to justify your existence somehow. So why not pick on black and Asian Conservatives?
Meanwhile – just as it was the Conservative party which produced Britain’s first two female Prime Ministers and has gone on to produce the first Asian Chancellor and Home Secretary – the real progress in dismantling barriers is done by those outside the grievance industry. Just leave us to get on with getting on with each other and we’ll be fine.