A few months ago, I happened to be reading a post about some internal elections by a group called DIEM25. They are. broadly speaking, a left-of-centre pressure group with a particular focus on the democracy in Europe. This is a subject very close to my own heart, except I’m happy just to walk away, so a group I used to follow. The subject of their post was positive discrimination.
Their post talked about some internal elections, which would then be subject to a positive discrimination rule so as to ensure a 50:50 gender split. I couldn’t resist commenting that I’d hate to be one of the people who was elected, but who then lost my place because of this rule. I mean, that’s what I believe anyway, but I hadn’t really intended my comment to be anything other than a throwaway remark. But it unleashed a rather aggressive response, including “Welcome to the world of women”.
Now, at this point I will break off and say that, yes, society has been biased against women in the past, but the “fair” approach is to have a totally flat playing field, not to install a system which is equally biased towards men. I mean, you could maybe justify this approach based on a “yes, but society is so bad”, but I think that this argument also has to come with some kind of desire to fix society, plus the word “temporary”. I heard no such argument from DIEM25.
Anyway, I decided to continue, asking whether two wrongs make a right. I mean, this is my fundamental argument – that they don’t. And as part of the resulting conversation, I was told I was a sexist for believing that the opportunity to stand in an election should be unbiased. I have to say, I was very unimpressed with the person/people behind the group’s internet profile – it seemed very “brownshirt-ish”, by which I mean nothing to do with the Nazis, but somebody with sufficient intellect only to obey orders, and to bully people into submission.
I must admit, I know nothing about the Labour Party, but I hear similar stories about Momentum’s infiltration. I have no idea how true these stories are in this case, but I certainly know that it can happen.
So anyway, I ended the conversation with this guy a lot less sympathetic than when I started it. It’s particularly disappointing when this guy’s beliefs were probably 80% the same as my own. But I felt such hostility from them that I decided it would probably be better not to follow the group any more. I had a similar experience with some people who claimed to be Labour Party supporters about Europe. The intolerance was remarkable, let alone that I was echoing the same arguments that were made by Labour stalwarts like Michael Foot and Tony Benn. I wonder if these people would have been so quick to condemn me had I been one or other of them?