Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The playing fields of Eton

“No, you’re wrong, I’m right,” as David Cameron would say.

His latest tirade against his own supporters is over the imposition of candidate shortlists featuring mainly women and members of various ethnic minorities:

“And just in case there is anyone out there who still thinks that the work we’ve done to get more women candidates, more black and minority ethnic candidates... that this is some kind of political correctness that Conservatives should avoid, I would say no. You’re wrong.

“It is in the best traditions of our Party... the one nation tradition of Benjamin Disraeli, and it should inspire us again today. Unless you can represent everyone in our country you cannot be a one nation party.

“And that one nation tradition lives on in the Conservative Party not just in the candidates we’re selecting but in the issues that we’re addressing too."

Alas, he’s missing the point. The members are not prejudiced in favour of white, heterosexual, middle-class, balding, middle-aged men like David Cameron.

What they object to – and object to vehemently – is that they have been stripped of the power to interview applicants, draw up their own shortlists and make their own choice.

That has nothing to do with sexism or racism and everything to do with “localism” which, in other circumstances, Mr Cameron would allegedly support.

The other point Mr Cameron must address is whether he is serious about the idea that the party must really “represent everyone in our country” because if he is, then perhaps he could tell us how many candidates in winnable seats are over 65.

After all, the largest single “minority” in Britain is the 16 per cent of the population over the age of 65 (expected to reach 23 per cent by 2033). How many of Cameron’s cuties are in their late sixties or older, I wonder.

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