Bristol City Council have set aside a job (officially an extended training role) exclusively for ethnic minority candidates.
Today Harriet Harman has proposed to amend the Labour Party's rules to ensure a 50:50 split between men and women for cabinet positions.
Both of these ideas are rationalised on the grounds of guaranteeing proportionate representation for all groups in society. The idea is flawed on a number of levels, first of all it is hard not to notice that there are never plans for positive discrimination when white males are underrepresented, for example in medical schools.
Secondly the idea that there is something intrinsically awry if groups are not represented in proportion to their presence in the population. It isn't the case, men and women behave differently and different ethnic groups are just that different in their cultural capital, attitudes and social history.
Finally the harm caused by these sort of actions is much greater than any potential benefit. Seeing as only two candidates will get the Bristol job, it means that dozens of white applicants will feel that they have been denied a job, even though most of them would not have got the post anyway.
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