After the fantastic book Capitalism in America Which he co-authored with Alan Greenspan, Adrian Uldridge published a book on meritocracy and is understandably trying to revive its arguments.
He is intellectually reckless enough to use the British Tory leadership as a case. The resignation of Boris Johnson has sparked a contest in which ten candidates are vying for leadership: which means being the head of government but also the face of the party during the new election. England is considered more of a “class society” than many. In fact the Estonian background of David Cameron and Boris Johnson has strengthened the notion of the Tory party which is a guess of what remains of the British elite. The most successful conservative politician of the second half of the twentieth century, Margaret Thatcher, a rare Tory from a middle-class background who was a social outsider in her own party (of course, her country’s first female prime minister) but Thatcher, so most people think, must have been one of a kind.
Uldridge, however, thinks differently:
The Conservative Party’s leadership candidates are quite diverse. Six of the 10 declared candidates are members of ethnic minorities; Three (Suela Braverman, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid) children of immigrants; Two (Nadeem Jahawi and Rehman Chisti) were born abroad in Iraq and Pakistan, respectively; And one (Kemi Badenoch) grew up in Nigeria. Four women. Only two white men.
The Conservative Party has done a much better job of diversity than other parts of the British establishment, focusing on the rainbow flag and the diversity course rather than the politically correct trap.
How did this extraordinary revolution happen? Torres captures the enormous power of “sponsored mobility” – that is, finding potential superstars while they are still young and promoting them quickly through team ranks. The Labor Party should have far more potential ethnic minority leadership candidates than the Conservatives, due to the fact that Labor has won about 62% of that population in recent elections compared to 24% of the Conservatives. But labor relies on bubbling up its own talents without a helping hand. The result is that many labor minority MPs are ineffective machine politicians and a few self-dealers. Labor leaders, deputy leaders and shadow chancellors are all white.
The Tory breakthrough came in 2005. David Cameron came up with the idea of nominating A-list candidates for local districts for consideration by the party’s central office. This protected many valuable sovereignty of the constituency but forced them to consider themselves separate from white men which they traditionally preferred.
This is an interesting and thought-provoking part. Broadly speaking, as Uldridge points out, it is important for political parties to represent minorities without the rhetoric of being persecuted. This goes hand in hand with delegates who claim to be “success stories” in their country and aim to speak on behalf of people like them. I don’t know how many of these people have been attracted by Western politics and political parties at the moment. But somehow the Tory party did it.