by Paul Embery
Friday, 18
December 2020

Two cheers for Liz Truss

She is right to call out identity politics, but it is not exclusively the Left's fault
by Paul Embery
Liz Truss argued that the agenda for equality is driven too much by identity politics

I doubt that the Equalities minister, Liz Truss, and I would agree on much if we were ever to meet, but credit where it’s due: her speech yesterday challenging some of the sacred precepts of liberalism and taking a well-aimed swipe at its most militant proselytisers was, in this day and age, almost revolutionary.

Truss argued that, while there is a moral and practical case for equality, the agenda is driven too much by identity politics and not enough by factors such as socio-economic status or geographical disparities. The focus on identity, she argued, has meant that those with ‘protected characteristics’ are often looked upon as members of homogenous groups rather than as individuals, while the inattention to social, economic and geographical inequalities means that the challenges facing some of our most disadvantaged fellow citizens are ignored.

Truss was right. In dividing people into discrete groups on the basis of race, religion or sexuality, and emphasising their separateness from everyone else — almost as if their individual characteristics were virtuous in themselves and worthy of special treatment — the whole creed of identity politics is intensely divisive.

Where Truss was wrong was in claiming that all this stuff is exclusively the fault of the Left. It is certainly true that the Left has been the main driver of the descent into identity politics, but Truss would do well to accept that the Tories themselves have their own thriving liberal-progressive wing which has all too enthusiastically embraced it. And let’s not forget who has been running the country for the past decade, during which the whole phenomenon has become so pervasive.

Truss’s message will, though, resonate in the very communities she highlighted in her speech — the ones suffering from an acute lack of money and opportunity but whose tribulations seem to be secondary in the minds of those who are constantly looking for victims elsewhere. These are the type of places the Tories snatched from Labour in great number at the last election. The people who inhabit them have little time for identity politics, and are sick of woke culture in general and the moral hectoring that comes with it. They would prefer their political representatives to focus on the bread-and-butter issues that stress them in their everyday lives: jobs, wages, housing, crime, and so on.

That’s why a Labour party that was as determined as it claims to win back the hearts and minds of voters in these communities would avoid attacking Truss’s comments. It might even be really bold and openly welcome them. But mired as the party is in the very ideology that was Truss’s target, it’s impossible to imagine such a thing. And while that remains the case, these places will continue to see the equalities minister and her party as more cognisant of their grievances and thereby more worthy of their support.

Join the discussion

  • Yes. Two cheers is about right ” for now at least. For the third, progress would have to be made in identifying those areas of policy and practice that encourage the proliferation of identity politics. That will require intelligent scrutiny of ideas. Desirable action that might flow from such scrutiny would include the repeal of a large proportion of those legal shibboleths that lend identity politics its spurious authority; and those shibboleths include the very concept of protected characteristics, much of the legislation that attempts to define hate speech, and some portions of those legislative acts that spuriously purport to encourage equality. Liz Truss should work with Kemi Badenoch, who is one of the few MPs with the brains and moral fortitude to stand up for healthy ideas and practices.

  • Good article. And fair play to Liz Truss

    Sadly those in the opposing trenches to her will not pay the blindest bit of attention because she is obviously Evil Tory Scum and probably reads Mein Kampf at bedtime.

    As always helped by the partisan sections of the media – most recent Guardian article on her is: ‘Liz Truss’s record of picking white, male trade advisers criticised’

  • Identity politics protects the money and power of the wealthy and for this reason any attempts to move away from it will be resisted in all quarters where the wealthy and powerful have influence enough to do so.

    This is why the big corporations are so enthusiastically giving money to groups like BLM. As long as the blame for inequality can shifted to the average person, the history and culture, and the institutions of nations, no one is talking about class.

    So the perceived problem shifts from the fact that all the wealth is funneling into a very few pockets at the expense of everyone else to one where the huge wealth disparity is the fault of some larger group and therefore the ultra-wealthy, big corporations, and their system rigging political hacks are off the hook.

    The real victims are all the rest of us trying to make a go of it in a 100% rigged game.

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