Last Thursday there was Member training on Inclusion and Diversity at Basildon Council. This was for Councillors of all parties, both District and Parish, to hear about the Council's diversity agenda from the officers with that responsibility. Now, Councils have often got themselves into all sorts of trouble with diversity and inclusion, ending up with crazy, politically-correct, policies that seek to promote inclusion by excluding mainstream British culture. The acme of such an approach was probably the old Labour administration on Birmingham City Council cancelling Christmas one year in case in offended Turkeys or something. Obviously, we are not going to do anything bonkers like that. Diversity policy should be all about delivering better service to everyone, not bigging up one community at the expense of another. The FTSE 100 company I work for knows all about that, running an independently commended diversity policy because it is the right thing to do but, crucially, because delivering better service to everyone makes good business sense. So it also goes in the public sector.
Anyway, there we all were, hearing from our recently appointed Inclusion and Diversity Manager on the way we will be taking that agenda forward. It took us a while to make this particular appointment because we were very keen to make sure that we had the right person for the job. A couple of tries at the market had yielded a very poor field and we did not appoint as a result, and the Labour party criticised us for that. However, we have a policy at Basildon in that we will give people jobs just to tick a box. People have to be up to our high standards or we do not hire them. Given their previous interest you would have thought that this meeting would have been well-attended by Labour members, but you would have been wrong. Only one party on Basildon District Council was present, and that was the Conservative Party.
Perhaps, this will be the end of pious lectures on the subject from Labour. Maybe pigs will fly.