It increasingly appears that no sphere of British life is safe from the toxic anti-meritocratic impulses of identity politics – even the realm of security and defence.
Last year, an inquiry found that the Royal Air Force (RAF) had unlawfully discriminated against white men in a recruitment drive aimed at boosting diversity. In one instance, an RAF recruitment officer described the men as “useless white male pilots”. Former head of recruitment, Group Captain Lizzy Nicholl, resigned after refusing to carry out the allegedly unlawful recruitment activities on the grounds that it would contravene the 2010 Equality Act (in which race and sex are both enshrined as protected characteristics). This scandal was a case of anti-white misandry being cloaked as so-called “inclusion”.
But this dangerous line of thinking, which blindly prioritises the unholy trinity of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) over competence and ability, is not solely the preserve of “woke” public-sector bureaucrats – it seems to exist at the heart of the Conservative Party. Last month, when asked about the military’s worsening recruitment crisis, defence secretary Grant Shapps said he was concerned that the make-up of the British Army did not reflect wider British society and that he was passionate about having a military “which should represent our country as it is today”.
Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think every single institution in the UK – especially those which are responsible for national defence and public security – have to be “reflective” of the demographic diversity which characterises modern Britain. The key is having a military which is highly-skilled, well-paid, and treated with respect by being housed in decent accommodation.
The setting of seemingly arbitrary DEI targets should never be at the heart of recruitment activities for the British Army and the RAF – rather, the focus should be drafting in motivated individuals who are courageous, value routine, and are deeply protective of their country. Britain is at risk of pushing equality of opportunity to the sidelines in favour of an equalisation of outcomes which threatens to weaken the performance-related standards of some of its most treasured institutions.
I suspect what would also help with recruitment in the spheres of security and defence is the UK Government providing a robust defence of Britain’s history, heritage, and traditions. Under prolonged Conservative rule, we have seen countless identitarian cultural attacks on the Royal Family, traditional British literature and music, the English countryside, and the UK’s record on race relations – with very little to no meaningful resistance shown by frontline Tory politicians. This will only worsen under a future Labour government, with the party largely in thrall to radical identity politics. The opposition party’s idea of a new “Race Equality Act” will serve to empower those who are more interested in securing preferential treatment for minorities than strengthening a collective sense of fair play.
And it has been reported that the British Army has told soldiers to avoid Christian “religious elements” in Acts of Remembrance on Armistice Day to encourage diversity and inclusion. Shapps is said to be “furious” – but his party has allowed this ideological self-flagellation to embed itself in British institutions under their watch.
The nation must champion its own role in prioritising the merit-based allocation of opportunities, and should be protective over its rich Christian heritage. This is the politics of pride, security, and belonging – we need it more than ever.
Dr Rakib Ehsan is the author of ‘Beyond Grievance’