Red Ken rejects white men for London Fire Authority

by Stephen Tall on June 19, 2007

As reported in today’s Mail:

Ken Livingstone has blocked the appointment of nine white men because they are “unrepresentative” of London.
The Mayor used his powers to promote equality to stop them serving on the London fire authority. He refused to confirm all but one of the Tory and Liberal Democrat nominations to the body that sets the brigade’s budget and policies. …
The Mayor approved all five Labour nominations, as well as one Tory woman and the sole Green and One London party representatives.

So, does Ken have a point? Should such public bodies be representative of the ethnic make-up of the wider public? Or should such appointments disregard quotas, and rely on elected representatives to act in the best interests of all citizens?

An interesting point is made by London Tory, Merrick Cockell: “It is disappointing that the Mayor has rejected two pensioners, an openly gay councillor and a councillor under 30 as being ‘unrepresentative’ of London’s diverse communities.”

If the London Fire Authority is to be strictly representative, should the Mayor set a representative quota for age, gender, ethnicity, nationality and sexual orientation? And if you are to achieve such a goal, how do you ensure the appropriate weighting for a body with only 17 members?