Let’s clear something up, true diversity goes beneath the surface

Early last week Liz Truss appointed her cabinet and for the first time in years Britain will see a government where a white man does not hold one of the country’s four most senior positions. Much praise has been awarded to our new Prime Minister for having “the most diverse cabinet in history”. Before we give credit where it isn’t due, let’s dive into this racially and gender diverse pool of talent. 

Inside the most ethnically and gender diverse cabinet ever, we see an absence of economic diversity, as it’s made up of private school alumni, landlords, company directors and shareholders. There’s a clear common denominator in this cabinet, and that’s class. While we are seeing history being made through these senior appointments and it’s evident you do not have to be a white man to reach the top ranks of Government, however you must be privately educated or part of a prestige elite. 

Diversity truly doesn’t mean anything without inclusion, and one thing is obvious within this cabinet, inclusion is severely lacking. 

Through the praise for Truss, a select few stopped to question how we can praise diversity when it is only surface level? While just 7% of the British public are privately educated, 68% of the new cabinet previously attended private schools, including those with the most prominent positions; Kwasi Kwarteng, Suella Braverman and James Cleverly. We must question how truly representative this cabinet is. 

At a crucial moment Truss decided to choose loyalty over experience and expertise, leaving households across the country to depend on ministers who have no comprehension of the realities they face. We have repeatedly seen disgraceful policy choices that do nothing to reduce the country’s crippling inequality. Instead we have seen austerity – most recently the £20 cut to Universal Credit left households to battle rising costs following a devastating pandemic – while tax cuts and the energy price guarantee benefit the richest twice as much as the poorest. How can we expect those part of privately educated elites to truly represent and speak for the millions of people suffering the cost of inequality? 

It may be too soon to question the intent of our new cabinet, but it is no secret how extremely problematic it is for the select elite to make decisions that affect our lives when they have no idea how the majority live. 

True diversity has to have a positive impact on policy to be meaningful. So far, the proposals and policy positions of Truss’ newly appointed cabinet – Suella Braverman is set to re-attempt deportations to Rwanda by sidestepping the European Convention on Human Rights, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has proposed lifts on banker bonuses which will see more money in the hands of the rich and Kemi Badenoch described net zero targets as “unilateral economic disarmament” – leave room to wonder how their policy will positively shape outcomes for the many.

Truss has failed to appoint a cabinet that challenges her ideals, which, in my opinion, will shape policy that is not representative of the many but only a select few. Instead this cabinet, while checking boxes for diversity, fails to produce any diversity of thought. 

The fear is that this new government will shift and create policy that continues to suit them and does nothing to tackle the structural inequalities of income, wealth and power. Can decision makers with a vested interest in the outcomes of the policy they create separate their own agenda from decisions that benefit the majority? 

Cerisse Goodhead, Senior Media and Communications Officer