The faux outrage stirred up by under-employed CCHQ propagandists and their pals in the right-leaning part of the press over Young Labour’s Equalities Conference, to be held in London next month, has continued as the Murdoch Sun has upped the stakes by doing what it does so often: talking well, but lying badly.
“LABOUR faced humiliation last night after the equalities watchdog rebuked the party over its decision to bar straight white men from attending an event next month” claims Matt Dathan’s article, although as I’ve already pointed out, straight white men are not excluded. And there is more in the same vein: “The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) even warned the Young Labour's Equalities Conference - billed as a one-day gathering for disabled, LGBT, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic members - could even break race laws”. Yes, this story could even be an even pile of bullpucky. Even.
Still, he’s off and running: “Remarkably, it is the second time in three weeks that the party has been rebuked by the EHRC”. The party has not been rebuked. And Dathan has another whopper waiting: “White heterosexual men are not listed as eligible to apply to attend the Young Labour's Equalities Conference on March 17 in central London”. Totally untrue. They can apply if they are disabled. But maybe disability doesn’t interest the Sun.
Nor, it seems, does bothering to look at what the EHRC has said, because their statement contains the reason why this complaint - made by routinely intolerant Tory MP Andrew Bridgen and backed enthusiastically by deeply unpleasant party chair Ben Bradley - is unlikely to be going anywhere, except in the bin. Check out their statement.
“Barring members from participating in events or internal committee elections based on their self-defined race, sexuality, gender or disability, is unlawful discrimination unless it can be shown to be a proportionate way of addressing disadvantage or low levels of participation within party structures. We have written to Young Labour to ask them for their justification for these member restrictions” [my emphasis].
Now consider the sole purpose of the Young Labour Equalities Conference. This is how Caroline Hill and Jasmin Beckett put it: “At our conference, we elect our four Young Labour liberation officers. Through these liberation officers, those who are underrepresented in politics can have their voices amplified … Studies show that if you are from one of those four groups, you are less likely to even stand for election, never mind be elected”.
They added “In Young Labour, there is no row. We are 100% committed to making sure that only people who belong to certain groups vote for the officer who will represent them. Just as members from London won’t vote for the Scotland rep, only LGBT+ members will vote for the LGBT+ officer … Young LGBT members in Young Labour are going to attend our conference to elect their officer. So are young women. So are young BAME people. So are young disabled people – who may also be male, white and heterosexual”. Quite.
The conference is covered by the EHRC’s description “a proportionate way of addressing disadvantage or low levels of participation within party structures”. The EHRC has not rebuked the Labour Party, or any part of it. Nobody is excluding straight white males. But the Tories and their press pals want to divert attention again. I wonder why.