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Former newsreader Michael Buerk: ‘Don’t recruit presenters to fill lesbian or Asian quotas’

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  1. Christine Beckett 10 Feb 2011, 11:20am

    He’s already noted for being a bit of an arrogant misogynist, and now reveals himself to be even more of a bigot.

    chrissie

  2. “Buerk said: “If you’ve been hired because you are young and pretty, because you are mincingly camp, because you’ve ticked a particular ethnic box and then you are no longer young and pretty or the fashions have moved on and you suddenly don’t have a job – get over it. It’s showbusiness.”

    . . . . . . . .

    Christine I agree, he apears like an arrogant misogynist; who is only capable of thinking about LGBT people in terms of stereotypes . . .

  3. Christine Beckett 10 Feb 2011, 11:31am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0L3ik9fp-M&playnext=1&list=PL8898F7DA97BCFCAF

    and there’s more in that series on there too.

  4. Maybe he is but…..I sort of agree. You should be hiring people who can actually do the job. I’d hate to think the only reason I was employed was because the company needed to get up the gay numbers. I’d rather be hired because I have the skills to do the job well.

  5. martyn notman 10 Feb 2011, 11:45am

    i agree with him 100 percent..yes ideally we want a good mix of people, but im against giving someone a job because of who they are rather than what they can do. Cant have it both ways people!

  6. Yes, I agree to a point, Martyn, but why did he have to phrase it in such an offensive way? That suggests to me that he can’t just state an opinion without some hidden hate spilling out. There was absolutely no need for such language.

  7. People should be hired based on their ability to do the job. If the workforce in whatever situation is not representative then the recruitment process should be looked at to see why certain groups are being excluded or disadvantaged and once those issues are succesfully addressed a greater balance will be achieved.

  8. I agree entirely with him. “Positive” Discrimination is still discrimination, and harms our cause.

  9. Impossible to take him seriously with such language – “mincingly camp”? Pathetic.

    That said – is the BBC seen as a institution of misogyny and homophobia? To my mind, yes. It is an old boy’s club and the old boys don’t like being replaced.

    Personally, I cannot wait for the BBC licence to be scrapped, it makes sick knowing that I am forced to pay for them whether I watch their shows or not. It is like being made to pay for Daily Mail when you only want to read the Guardian.

  10. If you were hired beacuse you were white, male, middle class, and then found that fashions had changed and suddenly you don’t have a job.

    Get over it.

  11. Christine Beckett 10 Feb 2011, 1:20pm

    But I think the folk who agree with him might have missed the point here.

    His whole argument is confused and self-contradictory.

    He said…
    “The idea of putting people on television – which is a non-job, that is terribly well paid, where you don’t have to think too much, or work too hard – and giving people those jobs purely on the ground that we need another six Asians, or we need another six lesbians, or we need another six pensioners, is to my mind almost worse.”

    Read that carefully and the obvious question manifests itself.

    What exactly is he complaining about?

    He is saying that this is a profession where a person’s knowledge and capability for hard work are NOT relevant; as the job itself requires little, if anything, along those lines.

    It thus seems acceptable that, in the absence of any real degree of required skill or knowledge, the criteria for hiring people will have a different emphasis.

    And in this case that emphasis is towards the sort of people the TV bosses think will most appeal to, and/or best represent, society as a whole.

    So if the bosses believe that involves having a quota of lesbians or Asians doing the job, how can there be a problem?

    The man just comes across as having a real chip on his shoulder.

    chrissie
    xxxx

  12. Christine Beckett 10 Feb 2011, 1:22pm

    @twitless.

    Brilliant!! :-)

  13. I go with him and his argument.
    That said, if the best man for the job *is* ‘mincingly camp’ then go for it.

    It is possible to have it both ways.

  14. Valksy : “the BBC seen as a institution of misogyny and homophobia”

    You obviously have no idea about the BBC. It is crawling with queens, and has a way higher proportion of LGBT people compared to moth other sectors.

    “It is like being made to pay for Daily Mail when you only want to read the Guardian.”

    Again, the BBC are actually very left wing, and the unions still have a lot of clout, so I have no idea where you get that idea from.

    And anyway, maybe some of us may want to read the Mail instead of the Grauniad. Personally, I would prefer them to be politically unbiased and not try to grind any axe at all.

  15. TheSuburbanBi 10 Feb 2011, 1:45pm

    “I sort of agree. You should be hiring people who can actually do the job. ”

    There is no reason to believe that just because someone who has been hired is a woman, lesbian, gay, trans, Asian, disabled, whathaveyou…. that they are otherwise incapable of doing the job. Out of the pool of already qualified candidates, sometimes media organisations will hire people who reflect their viewership or demographic. There is no crime in that. And those who then intimate, like Buerk has, that they are unqualified and hired only for their ‘minority’ status is at best sour grapes and insecurity. At worst, yes, it may well be bigotry.

  16. Spanner: You obviously have no idea about the BBC. It is crawling with queens, and has a way higher proportion of LGBT people compared to moth other sectors.

    That’s as maybe, but are you suggesting gay people are never guilty of misogyny or discrimination. I can assure you they are.

  17. I agree with him – it should be the best person for the job in an ideal world -sadly we don’t live in one hence the need for quotas

  18. Or another 6 middle age white well spoken men. Oh he can just piss off.

    I do not like quotas I have to say. Be hired for your elocution, how you read the news and how good you are at your job. Just be open in your process.

  19. @Paul….Spot on.

  20. Thanks Christine.

    Just watched the video, it seems that the drop in sperm count is all down to the fact that women don’t like washing up anymore.

    He goes on to suggest (with additional input from Melanie Phillips) that everything good was developed by men!
    Yet it doesn’t occur to him that his attitude has deprived the world of additional women like Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie…… from making those contributions.

    Certainly, the world is going through massive social change, but to blame the demise of masculinity on a womens right to make choices is nothing more than scapegoating and old fashioned bigotry.

    Every one would agree that people should be hired on their skills. Unfortunately, in Buerk and Melanie’s world, you wouldn’t get the chance to develop or demonstrate your abilities.

  21. Our national TV and Radio broadcasting service is in a different position from most employers here. As a national broadcaster it has certain additional responsibilities to the British public over and above other companies, and one of those responsibilities is to represent the British public as accurately as possible, and to foster tolerance, respect, harmony and positive social values.

    Having minority faces on television and minority voices on the radio is very important in promoting inclusivity in our society. It allows people from minority groups to feel that they are included in the national picture, lets them think they can aspire to everything everyone else can. It’s the same reason why including references to same-sex couples in maths and science lessons is such a good idea – it normalises tolerance and respect as the expected mode of conduct in our society. The BBC, as the most widely consumed of all media outlets in our country, by far and away the highest quality broadcaster in the world, and a recipient of public funding bears this responsibility most heavily of all. Not to ensure representation of Britain’s social diversity would be a grave dereliction of this vital responsibility.

  22. Where are the 6 lesbians, ethnic minorities etc? I don’t see them! Was he drunk?

  23. He makes some naff comments at times, but he does have a point here.

    Positive discrimination is a gross oxymoron – it’s still discrimination. In a true meritocracy, this shouldn’t be happening, yet despite us moving towards that ideal, this kind of social engineering through celebrities is anachronistic. And then it triggers a backlash against anything that isn’t white and heterosexual all over again.

    The best candidates should get the jobs. And if they’re all white or all black, then so be it, thier skills are the most mportant. I’d be furious if I were hired just because I ticked the gay box – it’s patronising and offensive.

  24. I’m surprised to see so many people rushing to the defence of Buerk. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder. I think there’s a bit of a myth about the amount of ‘positive discrimination’ going here. I don’t like the idea of quotas either but as the recent BBC programme ‘Who gets the best jobs’ showed, the reality is that most media jobs [especially those in the top] are still dominated by graduates from a handful of select universities, many of whom have been privately educated. I’m not sure if Buerk is one of them [he went to Sussex Uni’] but he seems happy to defend the status quo.

  25. I know Michael Buerk is a silly old twit, and given he narrates the Louie Spence programmes a bit of a hypocrite as well. But why on earth is that random mention of Stephen Green in the article?

  26. Joe

    “I know Michael Buerk is a silly old twit, and given he narrates the Louie Spence programmes a bit of a hypocrite as well. But why on earth is that random mention of Stephen Green in the article?”

    Why is he a hypocrite for narrating a programme with Louis Pence in it? You’ve confused his disdain of political correctness and positive discrimination with being homophobic. The two aren’t inextricably linked. It is quite possible to be pro-gay and anti-political correctness.

  27. He’s absolutely right. People should be employed for the skills, not who they shag or which skin colour they were born with.

  28. Yes no fill quota, but why say “mincingly camp”? He another idiot who think camp = gay.

  29. SilenceIsGolden 10 Feb 2011, 7:06pm

    For most jobs on TV, in front of the camera, there is not much “qualification” required — the most important part for those parts is that you’re photogenic, that the camera loves you, that your voice is nice, etc. Everything else takes second place to that.

  30. Isn’t he being hypocritical, he states that people should be hired based on how well they can do the job but he also states that it takes very little effort to do the job, …doesn’t that mean anyone can do the job?
    Surely if you’re actively thinking, I don’t want to hire someone just for being lesbian won’t you end up just hiring white heterosexual males every time because anyone can do this job.

  31. He has a point – the UK has spent too long pursuing so called “positive discrimination”. There is not such thing as POSITIVE discrimination. Any discrimination is a bad thing.

    People should be recruited into jobs because they are capable of the job, not because of some so called equality need. Equality doesn’t exist when a subjective definition of a person’s background or private life is what defines them.

  32. He’s got a point here, but having said that, that the BBC/’showbusiness’ does seem sexist given how many older men are shown compared to similarly aged women.

  33. de Villiers 10 Feb 2011, 8:02pm

    > Where are the 6 lesbians, ethnic minorities etc? I don’t see them!

    I agree. However, I do not agree that there should be no positive discrimination.

    Where the structure of the system promotes white men of a certain class more easily than others, then although that is not deliberate de jure discrimination, it is still discriminatory de facto.

    Positive discrimination may be necessary to level the field and redress inbuilt, unconscious, discriminatory practices.

  34. de Villiers “Positive discrimination may be necessary to level the field and redress inbuilt, unconscious, discriminatory practices.”

    By how much? Who determines to what degree? Your argument is rubbish. I may not like you because you have a spot on your nose. Sorry pal, that’s life, get used to it and stop expecting people to upset the natural order of things.

    Education and enlightenment are still the best way to counter discrimination. Trying to tip the balance the other way simply gets people’s backs up.

  35. Just hope they don’t recruit people becuase they are pretty or minicingly gay … he obviouslt wouldn’t even if they were the best people for the job…I think they need quotas to ensure that people like this overcome their archaic ideas…

  36. de Villiers 10 Feb 2011, 10:08pm

    > By how much? Who determines to what degree?

    That is a matter of fact and degree. That something requires measurement is no reason not to do it.

    For example, the political system discriminates against women. There are far fewer female representatives than male. This is discrimination not by rule but by effect.

    In company boardrooms, less than ten per cent are women. The existing power structures create informal barriers to their entry.

    A policy of positive discrimination may help to redress the existing imbalance that results.

  37. de Villiers 10 Feb 2011, 10:13pm

    > I may not like you because you have a spot on your nose.

    I should add that existing power structures are unlikely to prevent people with spots from reaching high places. Those structures may prevent those who are not white, male and of a certain class from reaching the top.

    Those structures do that insofar as unconscious discriminatory practices result in the exclusion of those who do not conform or come from a certain clan.

  38. Never mind positive discrimination – I would like to see direct action – a group of LGBT people laying siege to the news programmes would be a great laugh at least.

  39. Can there even be a quota for lesbians? At least with an Asian you would be able to tell it is a Asian, but how would the audience know a presenter is a lesbian unless the presenter says she is?

  40. de Villiers: “Those structures do that insofar as unconscious discriminatory practices result in the exclusion of those who do not conform or come from a certain clan.”

    I quite agree, but in the animal world it’s called a ‘pecking order’, You will never eliminate it as it is part of everyone’s psyche. Trying to bend social attitude through laws to compensate for a natural trait will never work.

    Quite simply, ‘excrement occurs’.

  41. de Villiers 11 Feb 2011, 5:21pm

    > Trying to bend social attitude through laws to compensate for a natural trait will never work.

    I’m not sure about that. Laws can change societal attitudes and behaviour. Hence the anti-discrimination law that comes from the EU that prevents someone from treating gay people less favourably.

    That may be a philosophical difference between the Anglo-Saxon political right which appears to be more laissez faire and the French / European political right.

    If discrimination is an evil and is to be opposed then it should be opposed wherever it exists. It should not matter whether the discrimination is formal or informal. If the discrimination is formal then the remedy is anti-discrimination legislation, as we already have. Where it is informal, that may require positive discrimination.

  42. I agree with him, we see it so much in the uk having to meet minority quotas.

    It’s like whatever.

    I’d word it differently to what he did tho

  43. Everyone is talking about how we should only hire “experienced” people – where do these people get experience if we will not hire them?

    The backlash would be once the “experienced” are spent, we would be left with a workforce that has absolutely no hope.

    Also, this would impede economic progress. If you are a bus driver and are too senile to see or stay alert, are you going to not fire them because you are scared of this “ageism”? Silly.

  44. de Villiers: “I’m not sure about that. Laws can change societal attitudes and behaviour. Hence the anti-discrimination law that comes from the EU that prevents someone from treating gay people less favourably.”

    Don’t be so ridiculously naive! I’ve always considered you an intelligent and articulate person. Just because a law says I can’t call a gay person a queer, do you really think that will change my opinion of gay people? If I didn’t like them before, why should that change? I might not be able to shout names at them any more, but it still doesn’t affect my way of thinking.

    This goes back to the employment laws years ago, when you could ask for a man or a woman for a job, until the sex equality laws banned it. Did it stop anyone? No. If I want a woman to do a job, I see all the applicants, and then pick a woman. Who can say different. It cannot be proven. People’s choices, education, upbringing and sometimes bigoted attitude is cast in stone at a very early age, and you haven’t got a hope in hell of changing that, no matter how many trumped-up. bureaucratic laws the pompous EU wishes to draw up.

  45. de Villiers 13 Feb 2011, 7:03pm

    > People’s choices, education, upbringing and sometimes bigoted attitude is cast in stone at a very early age,

    People’s views move with society although it can take much time. Undoubtedly, laws that prevented discrimination against women and black persons was ahead of its time. However, its slow but continued enforcement has helped ensure that it is no longer considered acceptable.

    Similarly with attitudes to homosexuality. At 1997, these were still mostly negative. Laws that repealed section 28, allowed for civil partnerships and outlawed discrimination themselves have helped create a situation where people are wary of openly discriminating. Over time, these wariness converts into broad social tolerance and then acceptance.

  46. de Villiers 13 Feb 2011, 7:08pm

    - I should say that we often agree with each other, although that may be because we are both on the right. Here, however, the view of the continental right, or what is accepted for the continental right, appears to diverge from the English right.

    I’m not sure if we are as far from each other as it appears. I agree that law is proposed by sectional interests in response to a particular strand of political thinking. Although drawing support from a mere strand of the political spectrum, the passing of such laws becomes (over time) widely accepted and draws support from everyone.

  47. Mr Buerk was the BBC TV News correspondent in apartheid South Africa when the UK supported that despicable regime. He seems never to have successfully caught up with subsequent advances in human rights.

  48. Yeah, people SHOULD be hired because they can do the job, but the truth is they tend to be hired because the people in charge hire ‘people like me’ or they’re a mate/relative or because someone wants to get into their pants.

    I have zero problem with any kind of quota that helps fight this trend. This is the UK, not America, and you shouldn’t have to look like a white Anglo-Saxon mannequin to read news.

  49. Buerk by name, burk by nature

  50. You should always hire the best person for the job, no matter what “box” they might tick.

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