Harman echoes the failure of the liberal left….
Harriet Harman wants it to be laid down as a cast-iron rule that 50% of the Shadow Cabinet be women. Unsurprisingly, the leadership candidates have offered their support for fear of being seen as politically incorrect; however, that is exactly what they and Harriet Harman are. They are totemic of the failure of the liberal left concept of equality which holds as its central tenant the way to deal with discrimination is errrr to discriminate and they fundamentally misunderstand what equality actually does mean. As I have written before; equality means equal treatment, not special favours. On a wider scale we have seen the disturbing results of this failure by the liberal left in the marginal rise of the British National Party as ‘positive discrimination’ finds its echo in negative alienation.
However, other examples exist in terms of, for example, the failure of equal pay legislation to close the gender pay gap. One of the problems with mindless quotas is that they tinker at the edges while leaving real structural problems untouched and far from improving the lot of those they are supposed to help they stigmatise them as only being there not because of merit or aptitude but because of the reason they were excluded in the first place be that gender, race, sexuality or whatever handicaps people. Structural discrimination does exist but there are ways to change that without putting in place mindless quotas which negate their own purpose in a way which I have tried to outline above.
Specifically, structural measures have to be targeted with an understanding of cultural impact (which quotas have no impact on, in fact, arguably they reinforce a discriminatory culture). Liberal left thought on these questions is much weaker because socialist measures were targeted at both structure and culture (and this is why things like the welfare state have actually embedded in our culture too and stood the test of time and hostile governments) and had a much more integrated concept of the two aspects. Of course, there will be some bigots who have no interest in equality who oppose these measures but there is a strong progressive case against them; its time to realise the liberal lefts solution to inequality has failed and the fundamental reason they have done so is because they fail adequately to address it’s causes.