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Have we succeeded in dispensing completely with discrimination of any kind and opted to live in a truly liberal society where everyone is treated equally? Astonishingly, we have not.
We have well-intended but short-sighted authoritarian elements of high society that seek not to remove barriers to opportunity, but to simply move them from in front of one group of people to in front of another.
For example, both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have all-women shortlists when selecting election candidates, and the Conservative Party have recently announced their ambition for 50% of their parliamentary candidates to be women.
Nobody worth his or her salt is arguing against equality of opportunity for everybody in the 21st century. This is not a matter of equality of opportunity, but a misguided pursuit for equality of result. This inevitably means that individuals will fail not because of lesser merit, but merely because of having the wrong biological property such as skin colour or gender.
A truly liberal society is one where factors such as gender, race, culture and lifestyle are made as irrelevant as possible for succeeding in life. But by actively favouring group identity over individual merit, we are simply swapping one injustice for another. It is a regressive course that risks new social tensions and it has to stop.
We must judge individuals on merit – not group identity
An online job advertisement from the BBC seeking a trainee journalist, but accepting applications from non-white individuals only. This of course means that a potentially life-changing opportunity is denied to a young person simply because they have the wrong skin colour.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
American Civil Rights Leader