‘Equality of opportunity is a core principle of our democratic society. Yet all too often the achievement of this noble goal is undermined by institutional virtue signalling, self- righteous guilt-tripping and ideological posturing.
As a result, instead of meeting genuine needs, many policy-makers — be they politicians, civil servants, media bosses or education chiefs — indulge in the worst kind of stereotyping, where all ethnic minorities are treated as perennial victims in need of support and white people are regarded as potential oppressors who deserve to be either hectored or neglected.
Two very different examples of this kind of behaviour emerged this week — both telling about our neurosis over race, and the damage it does.
The first is the incendiary row over the decision by two leading public schools — Dulwich and Winchester — to reject large philanthropic donations, worth more than £1 million, to fund scholarships for talented white boys from poor backgrounds.
The donations were offered by distinguished academic Sir Bryan Thwaites, former long-serving principal of Westfield College, part of the University of London, who is rightly concerned about Britain’s ‘severe problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools’.
The second was when Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, stated that the region should be made more accessible to the disabled and ethnic minorities. This follows a decision by his park authority to run a four-mile tarmac path through woodland at Keswick to improve access.
In each case, the people behind these decisions will have thought of themselves as progressive. But their approach is far from enlightened.
To take the schools story, which appeared in Standpoint magazine, I came to know Sir Bryan well in the Seventies when I was president of the student union at the University of London. I can testify that he is a man of integrity and compassion, motivated by a real determination to raise standards for all. He is also correct in his analysis about the need to help deprived white boys. All recent studies show that they do worse at school than almost all other ethnic groups and are significantly less likely to go to university.’