Legalise Positive Discrimination

Trevor Philips
Lord Trevor Philips, U.K Race Relation Head

Whilst the debate on tribal inclusion and diversity is raging within the Gambian diaspora, the United Kingdom head of race relations is calling for ‘positive discrimination’ by systematically helping to create a balance society, and work place. Many Gambians attacked Bakary Badjie for opening a debate with the new CORDEG executive. The issue that Bakary opined in his article is larger than competency, it is more of  solving the ‘hold back mentality’ and stopping the norm of labelling groups as ‘the ethnic so and so group’.  Whilst Gambians will come to terms with drawing from competent individuals from all the constituent ethnic groups in making a balance society, today, people will cringe and find the whole debate unnecessary, hiding behind, many arguments. However, Diaspora groups must make it a matter of strategy, to approach competent individuals who may not present themselves for leadership position, but are equally capable in playing a function role.

We have to advance the debate, why do Gambians find it hard in President Jammeh relying on his ethnicity for all top jobs in the Gambian civil service, security service and foreign services? There is hardly any Gambian embassy without a member of the Jammeh ethnic group working there. Should a Diaspora organisation then not fish out competent Gambian from all the ethnic groups in creating a convincing ‘WE’, rather than a patronising, ‘OUR’. Bakary Badjie may be hounded or sounded down, but the people in CORDEG are no strangers to Diaspora organisation building. In fact, nearly all of the key players belongs to different groups, some even three other groups. Yet, what is the end result of their belonging to those groups: (STDGP, Senegambia Human Rights, CDC-G, GDAG, MOJA-G, Coalition For Change etc). Isn’t it time, others are approach and brought in, rather than relying on the same individuals, expecting new result. This debate should be approach with caution and sincerity. India, Britain, America, Australia, many other countries are examining some form of inclusion policy. I recommend readers to read the Indian policy of positive discrimination statements. (Suntou Touray Political Editor)

Below is Trevor Philips recommendation:

Trevor Philips (Race Equality Head In U.K)

The head of the state race watchdog has called for new laws to allow ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of blacks, Asians and ethnic minorities.

Trevor Phillips said the laws that forbid racial favouritism by employers should be changed to ‘increase diversity’ in police forces.

The chief of the Commission for Racial Equality said the police and security services needed to bring in more Muslims to forestall unrest among British Muslims over anti-terrorist searches and raids.
“It would be a dreadful irony if our race relations laws became an obstacle to dealing with terrorism more effectively,” he said.

Attempts by police forces, Government departments, local councils and quangos to recruit greater numbers of ethnic minority workers have been held back in recent years by the 1976 Race Relations Act, which forbids discrimination against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin.

Occasional efforts to get round the law have provoked protests: earlier this year Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Colin Port admitted he had ‘overstepped the mark’ when he turned down 186 job applications from white men and instead recruited women and ethnic minority candidates.

Critics say that positive discrimination leads to resentment among the majority of employees, the recruitment and promotion of sub-standard workers to meet quotas, and damages the people it is supposed to help because their colleagues believe they hold their jobs only because of their race or sex.

Mr Phillips, who is to set out his call for legal changes in a speech on Monday, said police and security chiefs were make efforts to recruit more ethnic minority staff.

But he added: “Here’s the problem. The change is not keeping up with the growing need.

“Given that they can only recruit a limited number of staff each year, in order to accelerate that process of integration, they would have to recruit ethnic minority operatives in greater proportions than whites – and then they run the risk of falling foul of the Race Relations Acts.”

Mr Phillips said: “I don’t think it can be right that we have drifted into a situation where the CRE has to stand in the way of moderate measures to increase diversity in the police force – something which Scarman recommended 25 years ago, Macpherson more recently, and the chief police officers are desperate to do so they can do their job better.”

He cited rules that allow half of all Northern Ireland police recruits to be Catholics and continued: “have to debate such measures if we are going to avoid the spectre of a mainly white security and justice apparatus policing increasingly aggrieved and hostile black and Asian communities.”

Mr Phillips – who has been heavily criticised by Muslim leaders in recent months for his warnings about deepening segregation in British cities – praised Asians for remaining ‘calm and determined to work with police’.

But he said, police were handicapped by having too few Muslim officers. Citing the alleged discovery of cash in the police raid on suspected terrorists in Forest Gate, he said any Muslim officer discovering £38,000 would think it was there because the family had not found a bank account that complied with Islamic rules on interest.
“We cannot take it for granted that British Muslims will put up with being searched, investigated and dragged out of their homes forever,” the CRE chief said.

Mr Phillips confined his remarks to ethnic minority recruits for police and security jobs. But Whitehall and local government leaders have been chafing to bring in positive discrimination to push up their counts of ethnic minority employees.

Reform of race relations law would allow them to bring in full-blown ‘quotas’ as opposed to the more restrained ‘targets’ they operate at present.

Critics say positive discrimination inspires resentment among those groups not favoured for jobs and promotion and harms those it is intended to help – colleagues tend to look down on employees they believe have been over-promoted or favoured because of their race.

Recent research carried out for Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer showed that women and ethnic minority judges and lawyers are already worrying that they are regarded as inferior by colleagues because they are assumed to have won jobs and promotion on the basis of the sex or ethnic background.

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