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Trusses form a cabinet Diverse in context but not in concept

LONDON – One attends Britain’s most famous private high school, Eton University, another is the best lawyer, and a third has senior rank as a reservist. The resumes of those to whom Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, have been awarded the top three cabinet posts, are typical of generations of high achievers in her ruling Conservative Party.

What’s different is that none of the three are white.

In choosing her top team, Ms. Truss created an outstandingly diverse cabinet. The country also has its first female deputy prime minister.

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a research institute that focuses on immigration, integration, race and identity, said: “What is remarkable is the speed of change, which has become the norm and the thing. This is not controversial.” “There’s no one around saying ‘give us back the country.'”

However, Ms. Truss’ inner circle, while progressive in her nationalist structure, also has a hardline ideological side, which critics say is unlikely to pursue a more pro-friendly policy. Britain’s minority population, or for the refugees arriving on the country’s shores.

Indeed, some argue that the diversity among cabinet ministers gives Ms Truss the cover to pursue more radical approaches, such as a plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. — a policy now under the responsibility of Suella Braverman, the new secretary of the Home Office, whose father came to Britain from Kenya in 1968.

“Having a difference makes no difference and a change leads to no change,” said Kehinde Andrews, a professor of black studies at Birmingham City University. research on black people at Birmingham City University, citing an example of Conservative immigration policy and the Rwanda plan.

“The reality is you should judge it based on policy,” he said, “and the government track record is terrible.”

Ms. Braverman’s legal background – she is a lawyer – is relevant to her new position as the government is battling in court with opponents who have grounded Rwandan flights. She has established herself as a hardliner and has called on Britain to limit the influence of the European convention on human rights, which protects basic human rights and has been written into British domestic law in 2016. 1998.

The Prime Minister of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, shared Ms. Truss’s belief in the free market, her desire for tax cuts and a deregulation approach. His parents, an economist and a lawyer, came to the UK from Ghana as students in the 1960s. Brave and confident, Mr. Kwarteng enrolled at Eton College and later won a place. entered Cambridge University, where he excelled academically.

The new foreign secretary was James Cleverly, whose mother had come to Britain from Sierra Leone, and who had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel as a reserve officer in the army. He is perhaps the least reflective of the three, although like the other two, he is a strong supporter of Brexit.

Critics point out that, unlike most Britons, Mr Kwarteng, Ms Braverman and Mr Cleverly were all educated in private schools (although sometimes with financial support, as was the case with Mr Kwarteng). – evidence that social class, rather than race or gender, is perhaps the clearer boundary in British politics.

For all that, Ms. Truss’ appointments put Britain undeniably ahead of many other European countries in terms of political elite diversity. On Wednesday, Ms Truss used her first appearance in Parliament to indicate that she is the Conservative Party’s third female prime minister, while the opposition Labor Party has never elected a woman as leader. .

Ms Truss said: “It is extraordinary, isn’t it”, that it seems Labor’s inability to find a female leader, or indeed a leader who is not from north London? ” – in reference to Keir Starmer, the party leader and his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, who both represented parliamentary constituencies in the same part of the capital.

In fact, the cabinet’s diversity can be traced back to a former prime minister, David Cameron, who, after becoming party leader in 2005, changed the process of selecting potential Party lawmakers. Conservative. That forced local parties to choose congressional candidates from lists with a larger proportion of women, blacks and minorities.

“Look what happened to the Conservative Party,” Mr Cameron said in an interview with The New York Times in 2019. “It used to be people like me: white, classy, ​​male. , rural south. Now it has a gender balance. That’s everyone from every black and ethnic minority in the country. “

Mr Cameron rejected the idea that ethnic and racial diversity masks a lack of class diversity. Among the people he named in his cabinet, he noted in the interview, was Sajid Javid, whose Pakistani immigrant father drove a bus.

“The fact that the long-standing Conservative Party is trying to create people like that says a lot,” he said.

Britain’s first Black cabinet minister, Paul Boateng, was appointed in 2002, but until recently little has changed at the highest levels of government. When in 2010 a member of the House of Commons, Sayeeda Warsi, was appointed to the cabinet, she was the first British politician of South Asian heritage to take up such a position. Four more years before an elected lawmaker of South Asian heritage, Mr. Javid, joins the cabinet.

In part, people of color gaining power reflected social change and advancements through education. On average, ethnic minority students have outperformed white Britons in school in recent years. In every year from 2007 to 2021, white students had the lowest higher education entry rates.

British Future’s Mr Katwala said: “The effective intervention has catalyzed and fueled some of the activity that is taking place in the UK. He added, “In the UK we are a generation ahead of most other Western European countries.”

Critics note, however, that greater ethnic and gender diversity has not changed the policies of successive Conservative governments, which have grown tougher on immigration and often adopt tax cuts and other economic policies that tend to favor the wealthy.

Ms Truss has admitted that her most notable tax cut proposal – the reversal of last April’s increase in the national insurance rate – would disproportionately benefit high earners. because they pay the most taxes.

Ms Truss told the BBC last Sunday: “Looking at things through the lens of redistribution, I believe it’s wrong,” Ms Truss told the BBC last Sunday, in what some have noted as a defence. to the fullest extent of “drip” economics. “What I mean is about growing the economy and growing the economy that benefits everyone.”

Professor Andrews, from Birmingham City University, said the Conservative Party was practicing a particularly skeptical form of identity politics by promoting diversity among its senior leadership, while promoting upstream policies.

Mr. Katwala argues that diversity at the political level doesn’t automatically do anything, but can change attitudes by providing role models and “makes the difference in what you expect.” at the social level”. The example he cites is Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who came to power in 1979.

“I don’t think she has a good policy agenda for women or any ambition to promote women,” said Katwala. “However, when Liz Truss was at school, she saw a woman in Downing Street.”

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