Resurrecting the Spirit of PC Plod; Political Correctness Is Alive and Well in the City Council Chambers. Dennis Ellam Fears a Return of Resentment

Article excerpt

For any devotees of left-wing nostalgia, a visit to Birmingham City Council chamber would be a heartwarming experience.

Currently, they would find that an authentic PC Revival is under way there - a harkening back to those long-ago days, of the mid-1990s and even earlier, when the dogma of Political Correctness ruled most decisions which were taken by most departments, an d when free-thinking individuals kept quiet, if they knew what was good for themselves.

Specifically, the city fathers are resurrecting interest in that old favourite, racial equality, and are advocating a traditional policy, to achieve it by spending plenty of money.

Councillor Roy Benjamin, chairman of the equalities committee, says the activities funded by the pounds 1.6 million a year which it receives from the council taxpayer have "failed to stamp out racism".

The solution? To dig even deeper into the public purse, and hire a firm of specialist consultants who will make their investigations and then produce their proposals, about how to improve the career prospects of black and Asian council staff.

It might seem remarkable, to the outsider, that Birmingham City Council, of all local authorities, should be racked with such lingering doubts about its own standards of Political Correctness.

However, those who remember the height of the PC boom will recall the most essential principle which drove it, that a true state of PC perfection can never actually be achieved, to the satisfaction of those who seek it.

There will always be an area of administration which might be improved, a policy which does not go quite far enough, a loophole in the rules which needs to be tightened. The Left never relaxes.

And inevitably, when the issue of equality is addressed, there will always appear to be a degree of inequality, depending upon the vantage point which is adopted.

It will always be possible to complain that the career prospects of a black or Asian employee have been impeded by prejudice against their race or their colour, when in fact the genuine reason that they have been bypassed for promotion might be the same which applies, also, to many white employees - that they are not good enough at their job.

This possibility could never enter into true, unreconstructed PC philosophy, needless to say.

According to the town hall trade union Unison (a PC Revival would hardly be complete without a good measure of union militancy somewhere in the chorus line), the evidence of racism is simply mathematical, and "the fact that there are such a small number of black people in senior council posts speaks for itself."

What does it say? Does it say the same as, for example, a similar scarcity of Welsh people in senior posts would imply?

Of course it does not. The PC practitioner will not have forgotten those skills which were honed and perfected during the late 80s and early 90s, of selecting the facts with care and making the very best out of them.

In some ways, it must be regarded as remarkable that such skills have survived. …