Close down, you\’re not diverse enough

There are two points here, one absurd and to laugh at, one more serious.

A café serving Caribbean food has been ordered to close down after council managers ruled that its spicy food was not diverse enough.

Apparently a \”diverse\” menu is meant to include other types of food as well. You know, kebabs, green curry, chop suey (for any Americans who might be wandering by) and pork pies perhaps. That\’s the laughable bit.

And the serious part?

Councillors say the eatery has seen better days.

Council leader Terry Stacy said: \”It\’s vital we make sure what\’s offered is bang up-to-date and reflects the diversity this borough is famous for.

\”The views of users and non-users were fully taken into account in coming to a decision. I understand some people will be sad to see Paul\’s Café move out.\”

I realise it\’s in a council building, a council centre, so yes, they are responsible. But it is written small what \”community run\” means to a certain sector of the left. The community elects people, votes on things, and then they get done. Which means that instead of the true diversity of the marketplace we get some elected little scrote like Mr. Stacy deciding what is diverse or not, what is allowable or not.

It\’s, again written small, the tyranny of the majority. If 51% of the ward vote one way, then that\’s the way it will be. Yes, it\’s democratic but that\’s not the same as free or liberal. It\’s one of the things that the \”new localism\” is going to have to be extremely careful about.

Is localism going to be through a majority of the voters? A majority of the 20% who will turn out on a wet Thursday to vote for the local gauleiter? The local block captain who then imposes their standards upon all? No booze to be sold in the ward if a militant muslim block votes? (There are indeed wards in the country where one could imagine that happening. Indeed, it has happened through property ownership: there used to be no pubs in Street, where the Clarks owned the land and did not allow the sale of alcohol.) Or, from the other edge, say the BNP won, would there be a \”no darkies in business\” bylaw?

Yes, of course those are extreme examples but the major point still stands. What is localism actually going to mean? The local majority gets to impose its view on all that live there? Or do we carve out huge chunks of liberty and freedom from the centre and then allow the local vote only upon mundane or trivial matters?

Where, exactly, is to be the dividing line between the right of the majority to impose their views and the rights of the minority to dissent in action, not just at the polling booth?

21 thoughts on “Close down, you\’re not diverse enough”

  1. Localism needs to be combined with small government.

    I’m a great fan of localism. We should start by partitioning the country to give a homeland to lefties. Then we forcibly eject Ritchie, Polly et al and make them live in their paradise. Once they’ve all died prematurely of malnutrition we can start afresh. There are those that argue this is already happening, and that we call this homeland “Scotland”.

  2. Localism may lead to insanely authoritarian local government but as they are only local authorities it is much easier to move to avoid those areas. In this case it is only Islington council who have done this, imagine how much more destructive it would be if the UK government decided to do something similar.

    If power is concentrated at the national level it is much more difficult to escape the clutches of the bossy know it alls that infest every layer of government.

    A decentralised system is more of a barrier against bad ideas because no matter how much town hall trots want to create little People’s Republics, they can’t do so if their tax base is able to escape to a neighbouring area.

  3. I once explained what I disliked about politics to someone like this.

    There are two parties, The British Breakfast Party & The Continental Breakfast Party.

    You vote, whichever party wins chooses what you eat each morning. Its democratic they say. Yet why can’t we all choose for ourselves.

    I came up with a ridiculous example, to illustrate the point. Unfortunately it wasn’t ridiculous.

  4. I’d have to see more about this story to start drawing conclusions (it’s in the Telegraph, so alarm bells start ringing). The Council is allowed to decide who runs cafes on its private property, and I don’t know how you would decide that it isn’t. I guess you would say they shouldn’t be owning property in the first place, but even if they didn’t, private sports centres should surely be allowed to decide who runs cafes on their property?

  5. “private sports centres should surely be allowed to decide who runs cafes on their property?”

    Indeed. And private sports centres would go bust when no-one went there. The council, on the other hand, just puts up taxes instead.

  6. “I guess you would say they shouldn’t be owning property in the first place, but even if they didn’t, private sports centres should surely be allowed to decide who runs cafes on their property?”

    Yes . But at least that sports centre will provide things based on their profitability to the sports centre, which typically then means satisfying their customers.

    Wanting somewhere to be “bang up to date” and “diverse” is just the council running a service for the egos of their councillors and officers. It’s tractor production statistics.

  7. But you have no evidence that this decision will make fewer people go to the sports centre. None of us (who have commented) seem to have any first-hand knowledge of this cafe.

    In my experience of council sports centre there isn’t a policy of not caring about visitor numbers.

  8. “But you have no evidence that this decision will make fewer people go to the sports centre. None of us (who have commented) seem to have any first-hand knowledge of this cafe.”

    Well, the fact is that it seems to be driven by “diversity” rather than increasing the number of customers.

    According to his profile: “Terry Stacy was a freelance Consultant with a London based Regeneration Consultancy, before becoming a Councillor, where he headed up over £25 million pounds worth of Regeneration funds across a number of Boroughs in the Capital.”

    Now, maybe he’ll get lucky and despite having no experience in catering, knows exactly what the people going to that cafe want. But chances are that the man running it has a better idea of what his customers want.

    “In my experience of council sports centre there isn’t a policy of not caring about visitor numbers.”

    Really? In my experience, council sports centres are run for the staff and their friends. I’m thinking of joining a local gym because it’s almost impossible for me to swim after 7pm because most of the local pools get taken over by swimming clubs.

  9. Well, the fact is that it seems to be driven by “diversity” rather than increasing the number of customers.

    The Telegraph piece says that the council surveyed the youth centre’s users, and only a third of them said they were interested in eating Caribbean food.

    Now, it’s possible that the other two thirds ticked the “I’m not going to eat any food because I spend all my money on alcopops and crack” box, but also possible (given the demographic mix of Islington kids is split fairly evenly between nth-generation-Caribbean, nth-generation-Irish and 1st/2nd generation everything else) that they ticked the “I’m up for chips but not that weird Jamaican crap” box.

    In which case, this is the opposite of a PC-gone-mad story, showing a council being responsive to local people’s actual demands, isn’t it?

  10. Diversity, but probably (we really don’t know much about it) in the sense of providing a wide range, which in fact is somewhat different from diversity in the sense that it is a Telegraph hate word (which tends to mean supply a minority taste which is lacking).

    Our experiences clearly differ on gyms, but while I would say council run ones are run quite badly, I’m not sure they are anywhere nearly as badly run as private ones, which at the national/regional chain level have almost uniformly provided the worst retail ‘experience’ I have ever suffered.

  11. “The Telegraph piece says that the council surveyed the youth centre’s users, and only a third of them said they were interested in eating Caribbean food.”

    That’s not what it says. It says that 1/3rd of children only go there to scoff the carribean food.

  12. Everyone’s getting tied up with the fine principles of the rights of owners and so on, but isn’t there a more basic point here?

    Presumably the owners of this cafe tendered for the tennancy of the premesis. If food diversity was such an issue to the landlords then surely part of that tendering process would have involved a few questions about menus.

    Personally, unless the cafe has sudenly changed its menu, I would be inclined to think the whole food diversity issue is nothing but a cannard.

    Does someone on the council have a relative/chum who is keen to get into the cafe business? Just a thought.

  13. “I would be inclined to think the whole food diversity issue is nothing but a cannard. “

    I don’t believe duck is a traditional Caribbean dish.

  14. I actually suspect Remittance Man is right that there are other issues here, although I see no reason to think it is nepotism.

  15. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Matthew, I suspect you may be right in it not being nepotism. Myself, I’d suspect corruption.

  16. Pingback: First Class posts on Monday | Letters From A Tory

  17. “I see no reason to think it is nepotism.”

    It’s a local authority; they’re built on nepotism (in its broad sense – not necessarily family, but certainly “jobs for the boys”, those who tick the right boxes).

    Nepotism is a form of corruption; the people spending our money should be doing it solely for our benefit.

  18. “That’s not what it says. It says that 1/3rd of children only go there to scoff the carribean food.”

    Absolutely – a small change which produces the completely opposite meaning. So, john, it is, in fact, a load of PC bollocks.

  19. Having lived there for a while, can’t say I’m surprised it’s Islington. I would imagine it’s a function of demographic change.
    Few years ago it would have been the spicy carib fare without the option because one Afro/Carib voice trumps twentywhites of any pedigree. Now the Somalis & Alabanians etc are colonising LeRoy has to give way to Mustaffa.
    Don’t expect fish-n-chips on the menu any time soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *