"This is not about quotas"

SOMETIMES I try to imagine ministers reading Orwell’s 1984. When I was a schoolboy it seemed clear to me that you ought to sympathise with Winston and look upon Big Brother with horror. But I don’t see how those who promote the surveillance and social engineering policies of this Government could do so. They seem to take the administration of Oceania in 1984 as their model, not only for policy, but also for language.
On Monday, The Times revealed a scheme to impose racial quotas on companies that seek government contracts. If a company’s office is in an area where the population is 10 per cent black and 5 per cent Pakistani, then it will not get government contracts unless its staff is also 10 per cent black and 5 per cent Pakistani. ###
Of course, that is not how the policy is described by its supporters. According to Iqbal Wahhab, a member of the Ethnic Minority Employment Task Force and chairman of the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, the policy simply “assists employers in making more enlightened recruitment decisions”.
In a letter to The Times, Keith Vaz, MP, claimed: “This is not about quotas, but about encouraging employers to recognise the impact their employment policies can have on a local community.” And, on the same letters page, Ian Barr, formerly of the Commission for Racial Equality, claimed: “This is not about positive discrimination and quotas. This is about using the talent that is currently under-utilised and providing equality of opportunity to succeed.”
When the policy is aimed only at “assisting” and “encouraging” employers, how can they possibly object to it? Employers might reasonably object to quotas. But remember, this policy “is not about quotas”.
The perpetrators of such deception see no crime in it. On the contrary, they believe both their policies and themselves to be virtuous. The doublespeak they use to promote all this virtue flows out of them guiltlessly, as nothing more than the standard language of contemporary politics. It is striking, but not surprising, that both Mr Vaz and Mr Barr use the preposterous construction: “This is not about quotas.”
But they are deceiving themselves as well as everyone else. If their policies really are so good, why can’t they be described honestly?