I have written previously lamenting how Boris Johnson's administration at City Hall has not done more to ditch Ken Livingstone's pernicious "equalities policy" with its basis in racial separatism. But, in the interests of balance, I am pleased to accept that some things in City Hall have changed. It should be acknowledged that Boris's adviser for Arts and Culture, Munira Mirza, would be most unlikely to keep her job at City Hall should Livingstone return in 2012.
In the latest issue of Prospect(£) she (together with others whose contributions she has assembled) mounts a strong assault on multiculturalism.
The writers point out that while the old prejudices have faded, new paternalistic stereotypes are growing. To engage minority students, particularly if they are disruptive and struggling with the mainstream curriculum, teachers are encouraged to focus on "their culture" or "their history". Black artists are encouraged to explore their identity but are then pigeon holed according to their ethnicity. We may have seen the decline of old racism but we are witnessing a new kind of racialising.
While the 1976 Race Relations Act outlawed discrimination the 2000 Race Relations Act extended the law to place a positive duty on 43,000 public authorities to "promote good relations between persons of different racial groups." This injunction has led to the shift from promoting integration to regimented "diversity." It has "spawned an industry of behaviour management and control in workplaces, school, fire stations, hospitals, councils and Government departments. Hard-pressed public institutions are required to employ ethnic monitors, diversity trainers and equality impact assessors in order to guard against costly legal action." Schools have reported an estimated 250,000 "racist incidents" to local authorities between 2002 and 2009. It now covers children as young as three.
Mirza says all this "policing of informal behaviour" thus "creates a climate of suspicion and anxiety. Suddenly your colleague is a potential victim of your unwitting racism." She adds:
The victims are often the ethnic minorities themselves. In 2004, an investigation into the Metropolitan police found that black and Asian officers were almost twice as likely to be subjeected to internal investigation and written warnings. The reason was that "supervisors often lacked the confidence or experience to tackle problems informally with ethnic minority officers, they were wary of doing the wrong thing." they were theerfore more likely to report such cases to the professional standards department which was "ver-zealous" in its approach to complaints. Unsurprisingly, ethnic minority officers feelt unfairly targeted, although their managers were trying to avoid being racist.