In America, such affirmative action programmes have not only become a heavy burden on employers of all kinds; by increasing the resentment of the majority against minorities they have precisely the opposite effect to that intended.

—Margaret Thatcher. The Fourth Nicholas Ridley Memorial Lecture, London, November 22, 1996.

If anything is going to create an underclass, it is to tell a group that they need special treatment. Pride comes from achievement, it comes from succeeding without being given any special treatment. Likewise, if anything is going to create resentment between different groups in society, it is when the law grants privileges to one group that others do not have.

The people of California recognized this when they amended their constitution with Proposition 209, which reads: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” (Amendment to Article I of the California State Constitution.)

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove