David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party of England, writes in The Guardian what seems to be the opening shots in a battle to transform England into an affirmative action state.
In Britain today, too many people are denied the chance to escape poverty and build a better life for themselves and their family. Sadly, this is especially true for people in Britain's black community. Black pupils are permanently excluded from school at more than twice the rate of white pupils. Some 9,500 black children leave primary school every year unable to read, write and add up properly. And of the 3,000 students who started at Oxford in 2008, only five are black Caribbean in origin. This inequality extends to the job market too, with recent research showing almost half of young black people are unemployed, well over twice the rate for young white people.
What's going wrong? To a large extent, Labour's failure to address racial inequality echoes their failure to tackle inequality generally. Since 1997, income inequality, education inequality and health inequality have all widened, hitting the black community disproportionately hard.
A new Conservative government must do better. I want to take down the barriers that prevent so many black people realising their potential. In part, we'll do this through our core reform agenda. By tackling the causes of poverty, like poor schooling, family breakdown, addiction and welfare dependency, we can succeed where Labour has failed.
But we won't just rely on across-the-board measures to boost social mobility. We'll introduce concerted action to overcome the racial barriers that exist in Britain today. One of the most obvious is when it comes to starting a business: Conservatives have always believed that enterprise is a powerful catalyst for social mobility. However, too many black people in Britain today are being denied the opportunity to start their own business and get on in life.
This is not because of a lack of aspiration. Research has shown that almost a third of black people in England want to start their own business, compared with just 9% of the white population. However, only 4% of black people do manage to launch a startup – a level lower than any other ethnic group.
Accessing finance and advice are the key challenges for would-be black entrepreneurs. According to one study, black entrepreneurs are four times more likely to be denied a bank loan outright than white entrepreneurs, while the UK Survey of Small and Medium Enterprisesshows that as many as a quarter of black entrepreneurs report problems in accessing finance.A Conservative government will help tackle these barriers by turning Labour's failing welfare schemes into a radical plan to get Britain working. This will include funding for a national mentoring programme for black people who want to start a business. It will provide would-be black entrepreneurs with the targeted support, advice – and, crucially, role models – they need to access finance and work for themselves.
We know that the government will try to help blacks and fail. What we don't know is whether blacks in England will ever have as many privileges as those in America. Out of guilt, American whites put up with a lot from them, including school busing in order to make up for segregation. The British won't have lovely videos of lynchings and cross burnings to scare the kids with.
Look at the disparity at Oxford. According to Cameron in 2008 there were only five blacks in a class of 3,000. That's about what you'd expect without affirmative action. Will the British government begin to increase that number?
In the US affirmative action for Hispanics piggybacked on the programs set up for blacks. The history of slavery and segregation was needed as a justification to get the thing rolling and before others could be added. Europeans don't have this kind of weapon to use against themselves. They would be starting discrimination programs against themselves for people who had chosen to come.