In terms of your current role, what are your ambitions at the Equality and Human Rights Commission? What would you like your legacy to be?
My epitaph is “He got out alive!” I think that in a sense, the legacy of my time here has already been set. Remember, this is a new organisation and it was very difficult to bring into being.
There was a lot of conflict and a lot of arguments and the big question I was, would it survive a change of government, which it has done. That is point one, so I think that part of the legacy is established.
Secondly, one of my ambitions was to reorganise and set in place a new piece of equality legislation that was up to date. We did that under the previous government with the Equality Act 2010 and it has been accepted by the coalition government - there are no plans to repeal that act. So in a sense my legacy is already done.
If I had a third thing which I focused on, and this again may sound a rather surprising thing, it is to bring more science and more discipline to the business of equality. We tend to talk about equality and discrimination as though it is a purely moral and theological issue.
Actually it is economic. It is an important aspect of social science and we should be pursuing justice not just by telling people, “If you don't agree with us then you are bad and you will go to hell.”
We should be making arguments that are much more scientifically based, much more fact based. We need to create a much more scientific discipline about the way we think about the issues of fairness and justice. There is absolutely no reason why we don't have the same science in the area of equality as we do, say, in economics.
My job, which is a slightly geeky one and maybe betrays my origins - I studied chemistry, is to leave with a proper scientific discipline, proper measurements and a proper approach to working out what are the inequalities on which we should be concentrating.
I know that doesn't sound very glamorous but I think, in the end, if you want to persuade people then they are not persuaded by someone shouting at them, they are not persuaded by someone telling them that they are really naughty or really bad or really unpleasant if they don't agree.
They are persuaded by argument, by fact, by analysis and by insight. I don't think we have got enough in our business and that will be the legacy that I think I will leave. Although I have got to do it pretty quickly because I leave next autumn.
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