CIDR -Diversity in the UK Armed Forces

 According to respected journalist Deborah Haynes of Sky News the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) has halted recruitment of white applicants in an attempt to meet their diversity targets. Apparently this has prompted the resignation of their Group Captain in charge of recruitment, which is perhaps a bit of a self-inflicted wound.

The RAF has long been at the forefront of the woke, right-on policies to the embarrassment of some of its members. It has been a major promoter of the politics of Gay Pride, was quick to accede to demands that personnel should sport beards if the so wish, and now looks like it is espousing positive discrimination in its recruitment policies. O tempora, o mores!

In a past life I spent some time – a year actually – at the University of Glasgow on a Ministry of Defence (MOD) sponsored research fellowship researching race relations within the British army. It may come as no surprise that one of my conclusions was that I found the army to be institutionally racist. It may also come as no surprise that my report to the MoD sank without trace, although it was debated in the House of Lords at the time. That got me in to a bit of trouble, but I survived.

I have long been an advocate of equality of opportunity within Britain’s armed services, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, politics, or indeed gender identity. Indeed, about twenty-five years ago I wrote a piece for the then MoD quasi in-house magazine The Officer in which I argued that I could see no good reason why females could not be part of my tank crew.

The editor – a well-respected, retired officer with combat experience (no names, no pack drill) – phoned me up to say that he couldn’t possibly publish it because “the idea was preposterous”. But look where we are now; not only do women crew tanks, they command troops of tanks in my old outfit, the Royal Tank Regiment. And a good thing it is too.

In the final analysis, though, those espousing diversity in the Services should consider what the famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, Canadian clinical psychologist Professor Jordan Peterson calls the “Scandinavian paradox”. Briefly, it says that equality of opportunity does not necessarily equate to equality of outcome. You can read more of what he says on this online, and far be it for me to attempt to explain further.

The essence of it, though, is that we can make employment opportunities in the armed services open to everyone irrespective of race, gender, religion etc, but that does not mean that our forces will come to mirror the civilian population exactly. People still have to choose.

In the final analysis, our armed services exist to protect the state and it doesn’t matter a jot whether our servicemen and women are white, black, green, red, religious, atheists, gay, straight or elsewhere on the LGBT spectrum. All that matters is that they’re up to doing the job.


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