The British Medical Association, of which I am an undistinguished member, recently published a booklet entitled A Guide to Effective Communication in the Workplace, which I strongly suspected would be as helpful as a booklet entitled Improving Athletic Performance by Cutting the Achilles Tendon. I was right.
The document begins:
We are committed to promoting equal rights and opportunities, supporting diversity, and creating an open and inclusive environment for our members, employees and stakeholders. The successful implementation of equality and inclusion in all aspects of our work will ensure that members, colleagues and staff are valued, motivated and treated fairly. It will allow us to respond appropriately and sensitively to an increasingly diverse society.
Long experience of apparatchiks has taught me that anyone who prefaces what he is about to say—his communication—with the words “I am committed to…” will soon proceed to something unpleasant hiding in his thicket of polysyllabic euphemism. If a hospital manager, for example, says “I am committed to…” (or, even worse, “I am passionately committed to…”), you know that something is about to be closed down and its staff (except for the managers) sacked.
“We are committed to…equal opportunities,” says the BMA, knowing full well that many of its members, probably a majority, seek advantages for their children that, almost by definition, other children cannot enjoy. They are right to do so—a parent who in the name of a utopian ideal did not do so would be something of a monster—but they cannot then go round proclaiming their devotion to the ideal of equal opportunity.
As to equality in the economic sense, the BMA, as a trade union–cum–professional association, is dedicated to procuring as many pecuniary advantages as it can for its members, and would be horrified if someone suggested that doctors should be paid, in the pursuit of equality, the same as cleaning ladies.