There are many options on how best to spend a shrinking pot of public money. But if one of the goals is preserving fairness, safeguarding cohesion and ensuring that everyone – regardless of background – gets the best chance to thrive, Doncaster provides the perfect example of what not to do.Oh, oh!
It seems Peter Davies hasn’t been paying the Danegeld, and now the Danes are starting to…write angry ‘Guardian’ columns as a result:
Since May, Peter Davies has been the south Yorkshire town's elected mayor, representing the English Democrats. He has sought to make "soft" cuts – the kind that make ratepayers feel their money is not being wasted.That ‘representing English Democrats’ is a little ingenuous; as Mayor, he represents all of Doncaster.
So, what’s he cut, then, Hugh, that’s got your knickers in a twist?
Vital waste collection services? Meals-on-Wheels? Park services?
Here are some of the issues he has targeted: a gay pride event; translation of leaflets into minority languages; funding for Black History Month; jobs of diversity officers; funding of groups that do not specifically serve the majority "indigenous" population.Splendid!
Sounds like he’s targeting all those areas that don’t qualify as vital for council business, or apply to all people equally. And doing what he promised to do in his manifesto! What’s not to like?
Of course, Hugh is worried that this will catch on with other political leaders. And the people who make their living off this sort of thing are even more worried!
"The very area we should be strengthening -equality- is under the greatest threat," says Simon Woolley, coordinator of Operation Black Vote.I’ll let that sink in – ‘Operation Black Vote’…
Does it sound like something that would be required in 1960s Alabama? Do we not have equal voting rights? What’s the point of it, then?
Well, it’s ‘mission statement’ says:
“Operation Black Vote is the first initiative to focus exclusively on the Black democratic deficit in the UK. We believe that without a strong political voice for African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic minorities, the ideal of equality of opportunity - regardless of race and colour - will remain an ideal. ”So, it’s a special interest lobby group.
And so we certainly don’t need to fund it with public money.
"We get this wrong and those least likely to defend themselves will be readily thrown out of work, and find it most difficult to be re-employed.I’m not sure who will be ‘thrown out of work’ by these plans, other than the race hustlers and grievance mongers of course…
Furthermore, our inability to close the inequality gap could result in community antagonism, and in some places rising crime."
I’m not seeing that as a bug, more as a feature.
The decision for policymakers, at local and national level, should not be solely what a service costs, but what it is worth.And these things are worth a lot to you, Hugh, but not to the majority. Particularly the majority who are paying for them, yet see no benefit from them.
Not all grants to all minority groups are deserved or well spent; some have squandered the money or have been ineffective. But focus on the bulk of the money spent on community inclusion and cohesion. How much does an area such as, say, Tower Hamlets, east London, benefit from residents who do not have English as a first language being able to participate in the community?I don’t know, Hugh. Tell us.
But he doesn’t.
How much does London benefit from the £100,000 the Greater London authority grants to the annual gay and lesbian Pride event, in terms of what it says about the capital – let alone the financial gains to bars, shops and restaurants?Because people wouldn’t come to London to shop, eat and drink and see the sights, if not for Pride. It’d be a veritable ghost town, obviously…
Last chance, Hugh. Convince us:
…when community services are assessed, let us think of Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, who came to Britain without English as a first language. He benefited from funding– in his case, section 11 money that was channelled towards the education of young people from ethnic minorities and. Today, he is leader of the Labour group on Watford borough council and is chair of the National Association of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Councillors.That’s it?
The shining jewel in the crown of these projects is yet another token who wraps himself in his ethnic group in order to push forward Labour policies for his fellows?
If that doesn't represent best value for him and the wider community, what does?I can confidently say – pretty much anything…
The piece signs off with “Hugh Muir is a Guardian journalist”. Thanks for that.
However would we have known…?