As you may have heard, there have been sightings of a new superhero. In Manchester, of all places. And, as luck would have it, he chose to reveal himself to humanity in a conference hall packed full of Conservative Party delegates, and the massed ranks of political journalism’s finest. This is what he had to say:
For too many people, even a good education isn’t enough. There are other barriers that stand in their way. Picture this. You’ve graduated with a good degree. You send out your CV far and wide. But you get rejection after rejection. What’s wrong? It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience. It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname.
Do you know that in our country today: even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names? This is a true story. One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews. That, in 21st century Britain, is disgraceful. We can talk all we want about opportunity, but it’s meaningless unless people are really judged equally.
It really is meaningless, really. But he did at least get a Blondie song title in there (10 points). And there was more:
Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a gay person rejected for a job because of the person they love. It doesn’t mean much to a disabled person prevented from doing what they’re good at because of who they are. I’m a dad of two daughters – opportunity won’t mean anything to them if they grow up in a country where they get paid less because of their gender rather than how good they are at their work. The point is this: you can’t have true opportunity without real equality. And I want our party to get this right.
Yes us, the party of the fair chance; the party of the equal shot. The party that doesn’t care where you come from, but only where you’re going. Us, the Conservatives. I want us to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.
Woo hoo! End discrimination and finish the fight for real equality! Today! Well, maybe not today, but soon. Very soon! Possibly even before the sun explodes and devours our planet. All hail Equality Dave, not just an equality superhero but the “new leader of the British left”, according to Dan Hodges of the equality-mad Daily Torygraph.
But … hang on. Where was Equality Dave when we needed him? Where was he, for example, when the government was introducing upfront fees of up to £1,200 to bring a tribunal claim for disability discrimination, or for sexual orientation discrimination? Fees that led to a sudden, substantial and sustained fall of as much as 80 per cent in the number of tribunal claims for disability, race, sex or other discrimination.
Where was Equality Dave when the government abolished the ‘questionnaire procedure’ in discrimination claims – a procedure that facilitated the revealing of crucial information held by the employer, but not otherwise available to the claimant? Where was Equality Dave when the near abolition of civil legal aid and other funding cuts caused the closure of one in six law centres, and the loss of some 300 specialist CAB advisers? Where was Equality Dave when the Equality & Human Rights Commission was stripped of its duty to promote a society with equal opportunity for all, and had its government funding cut by more than half?
And where was Equality Dave in July, when that enfeebled Equality & Human Rights Commission published the findings of its 18-month, £1 million research study, showing that 54,000 new and expectant mothers are forced out of work each year by rogue and dinosaur employers? Did it not make him angry that, when his two daughters grow up and have their own children, there is a one in four chance that one of them will suffer such unlawful discrimination?
Well, if it did make him angry, Equality Dave kept his anger to himself. Because Equality Dave was nowhere to be seen, then. Maybe he was still flying around, above the clouds, out of humanity’s view. Biding his time. Or something.
But at least now he’s here, and he’s going to end discrimination today! Well, soon. Soonish. Somehow.
Postscript: And what’s this? Equality Dave has barely had time to dust off his superhero outfit before his Party’s MEPs – that is, the MEPs of the party of “the fair chance and the equal shot” – have voted against an EU resolution aimed at reducing the gender pay gap. Equality Dave, sort out those MEPs!