A piece by Liz Truss, Women and Equalities Minister and President of the Board of Trade, published online yesterday by the Telegraph:
We can be proud that the United Kingdom is one of the best places in the world to live, no matter your skin colour, sexuality, religion or anything else.
This is the result of our story as an equality-minded nation, driven from the earliest days by a desire for liberty, agency and fairness.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed at whatever they want to do in life, but we must be honest: that is out of reach for too many people across the UK, especially beyond the South East.
We can ill afford to waste their potential as we recover from Covid and build back better. And the surest way to squander it would be to focus on loud lobby groups, identity politics and virtue-signalling.
That is what would happen if right-thinking people did not lead this fight for fairness, as the Left’s ideas have been shown to fail time and time again.
Yet quotas, unconscious bias training and diversity statements still pervade our body politic. They are supported by a philosophy which puts symbolic gestures ahead of policies that would have been a game-changer for the disenfranchised, like better education and business opportunities.
All the while, the focus on oppressed groups at the expense of individuals has led to harmful unintended consequences.
This has culminated in Labour turning a blind eye to practices that undermine equality, whether it be failing to defend single-sex spaces which have been hard fought for by generations of women, enabling and tolerating anti-semitism in their midst, or the appalling grooming of young girls in towns like Rotherham.
We cannot waste any time on this misguided, wrong-headed and ultimately destructive ideology which undermines individual dignity and has failed to help those most in need.
Equality is something everybody in the United Kingdom should care about, and something all of us have a stake in.
So, I am calling time on “pink bus” feminism, where women are left to fix sexism and campaign for childcare.
Our new approach, which I outlined on Wednesday at the Centre for Policy Studies, will be based on core Conservative principles of freedom, choice and opportunity.
We will take the biggest look yet at the problems people face, from housing and crime to work and schooling. And we will follow the evidence to work out how we can best solve it through empowering people with agency.
Studies show that modernising and making organisations transparent is the best way to tackle inequality.
Transparency stops opaque set-ups, which benefit those who know how to game the system. By driving reforms that increase competition, boost transparency and improve choice, we can open up opportunities for all.
This is the level playing field we should be talking about, and we are going to make sure that this level playing field is properly policed.
That is why I have appointed a new chair and a wide variety of commissioners to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who will focus on enforcing fair treatment for all, rather than freelance campaigning.
For a more equal society, we need an equality debate rooted in fact, not fashion.
There are some twisting the truth, who should heed the warning from the chair of our Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Dr Tony Sewell, who wrote last month that they have uncovered “a perception of racism that is often not supported by evidence” and that “wrong perceptions sow mistrust”.
Our Equality Hub will follow the evidence by looking over the coming months across the UK to identify where people are held back and what the biggest barriers are.
We will not limit our fight for fairness to the nine protected characteristics laid out in the 2010 Equality Act, which include sex, race, and gender reassignment.
While it is true people in these groups suffer discrimination, the focus on protected characteristics has led to a narrowing of the equality debate that overlooks socio-economic status and geographic inequality.
This means some issues – particularly those facing white working-class children – are neglected.
This project will broaden the drive for equality and get to the heart of the barriers people face.
We will prosecute our agenda with fierce determination up and down the country, taking the debate beyond London boardrooms and Whitehall offices.
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