People who say they are against affirmative action like all-women-shortlists say the reason is because people should be chosen on merit – but when has anything relying on subjective judgment without full access to and acceptance of the facts been meritocratic?
However, it seems that we are not living in a meritocracy, but an inequitable partisan autocracy. An IPA, as exists in the UK, involves the hierarchies of political parties choosing people not on their ability to do the job they aim to be elected to, but their ability to deceive the electorate into thinking they will always do what they want, and their willingness to, on the contrary, do whatever the party hierarchy wants.
Conversely, an equitable individualistic meritocracy (EIM), as exists with applications to grades of membership with professional bodies, selects people on what they are able to do based on the evidence they have provided through demonstrable experience.
The main difference between the IPA organisations I am a member of, such as the Labour Party and the EIM bodies I am a member of, such as the BCS and IEEE, is simply a matter of objectivity, reliability, and verifiability; the Labour Party doesn’t expect you to provide evidence of your experience, such as through referees, portfolios or certifications like an EIM does, as they base their appointments purely on superficial factors such as whether you support the same opinion as them, whether you are willing to do what you are told by the hierarchy, and all too often, whether you are known to the selection panel.
For instance, I am currently working my way up the grades of the BCS and IEEE. Through increasing my education and experience in the application of IT to business, research and community problems I am ticking the boxes set by these EIM bodies, meaning I will eventually have enough evidence to apply for higher grades of membership. In the Labour Party however, like all IPAs, there is an interview procedure where candidates answer questions that trick them into providing evidence why they should be eliminated and not appointed. They will ask questions such as ‘Would you ever vote against the whip’. If you were honest, and said you would vote with your conscience, this would be reason to eliminate you. In an EIM on the contrary, voting on the basis of your best judgment in line with your competencies is encouraged and in some cases obligatory. For instance, if you were on the board of an IT company and voted in favour of the opinion of the Chairman and you knew it was against the interests of the company, not only could you lose your membership of the EIM but also you right to be a director.
I have a Masters of Laws degree in European Union Law, I have been involved in marketing campaigns to encourage young people to be involved in community arts, I am able to utilise a team of workers so I can more effectively define and meet the objectives of both my organisation and myself, and I am able to communicate my thoughts and listen to others in project meetings, where necessary arguing my personal opinion and at other times representing others’. Surely I should be sitting on a committee in the European Parliament by now, or at least one of my party’s preferred candidates for European political work. But this is not the case, as the Labour Party is not an equitable individualistic meritocracy but an inequitable partisan autocracy. I have experienced it myself when despite providing objective evidence of my abilities only my performance at an interview was taken into account. I have seen other people affected by it, where one of my contemporaries was eliminated from a contest for reasons that had nothing to do with his ability to do the job.
I joined the Labour Party because I thought its ultimate objectives were the fairest. I joined the Labour Party, not to further my own interests, but because on paper it seemed like the party that would best represent my values of fairness. Tony Blair convinced me that it was the party that would put power, wealth and opportunity into the hands of the many and not just the few.
However, I have seen the unacceptable face of the Labour Party, and no matter how much Tony Blair changed the Rule Book, he wasn’t able to change the people in the party. I am a person of great ability, yet with the exception of the Ogmore constituency, wherever I have been in the Labour Party I have been treated like an outcast, someone who was not welcome. I have not been treated with the respect someone of my intellect deserves, nor have I been given the opportunity to use my strengths for the benefit of the party, again, other than in Ogmore.
Democracy means governance by the people, not political parties. Representative democracy means governance by people who reflect the makeup of the country as a whole, and not simply people who meet the prejudices of an IPA organisation. For mean the ideal representative democracy would where institutions are made up of people who are representative of those affected by the issues being discussed, such as parents or teachers, and secondly by people who have the training and competencies required to initiate the change, such as legislator or regulator. The former could be selected based on subjective factors and more suited to reformed IPA organisations (perhaps Equitable Integrated Autocracies – EIAs), and the latter, objective, more suited to existing EIM organisations.