The Coalition’s failure to stop Harman’s Equality Act is a betrayal, pure and simple.
There is one failsafe way to discern whether a piece of UK legislation is either (a) ill advised or (b) evidence of certifiable insanity. (The third option – ‘sensible’ – is highly unlikely to be available in contemporary Britain.)
And the answer is: (b) only applies when both the Independent and the Daily Mail agree about the nature of it.
Harriet Harman’s new Equality Act fulfils this criterion….except that it is being allowed to pass by the Coalitionistas, those people who promised us The Bonfire of the Insanities. What on earth can be happening here?
Christina Patterson was the unlucky right-on Indie journalist elected by her confused management to be the one ‘baffled’ by the Act – a LibLab sort of gal nevertheless asking what had happened to commonsense. She is probably the only Indiebint ever to have taken the same tack as a Daily Wail front-page headline, which promised ‘The end of the Office Joke’.
Having been to the Government Equality Office site, I can indeed confirm that her Act of wanton humour-destruction
‘…provides a new cross-cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.’
except that I’ve no idea what cross-cutting is. I’ve also not a clue what the following bollocks means either – except that it became law yesterday:
* indirect discrimination
* Changing the definition of gender reassignment, by removing the requirement for medical supervision.
* Levelling up protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic.
* Applying the detriment model to victimisation protection
These terms may be merely incomprehensible, but this next bunch make the 1933 Nazi Emergency Powers Act look positively focused:
- Allowing claims for direct gender pay discrimination where there is no actual comparator.
- Making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable.
- Extending protection in private clubs to sex, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.
- Introducing new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations which benefit the wider workforce.
- Harmonising provisions allowing voluntary positive action.
Effectively, ‘new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations which benefit the wider workforce’ could be used to give national sovereignty to the Unite Union, or award votes to horses.
Theresa May had this to say:
“When a company reflects the society it serves, it’s better for the employer, the employees and the customers, so being a woman should never be a barrier to being treated fairly at work.”
The connective logic of that statement eludes me, but the general message doesn’t: we have all been through a long and arduous General Election – and the Government we voted in to rid us of this sort of polemic, unscientific tripe seems unable to grasp that the eradication of pc drivel is, in the long-term, every bit as important as Draper Osborne’s not entirely targeted cuts in Government expenditure.
What this mad Act means – apart from a pyrrhic victory for the Forces of Darkness – is more profits for the legal beagles…and a huge new cost being dumped upon an economy the Coalition is allegedly trying to turn into a leaner, restructured model of commercial activity.
But for me, it means the end of any last vestige of trust I had placed in the Tory Party. And yet again I repeat – this has nothing to do with Left and Right. Rather, it is a grudging acceptance of one simple reality: the British Establishment has not the first clue what is truly important to the survival of our culture.
It doesn’t understand that starving a properly functioning CPS and police force of funds means a continuation of that loss of trust among thinking folk that has characterised the last thirteen years. And it has no grasp of why equality has nothing to do with passing ever more impenetrable Acts of Parliament, but everything to do with earning acceptance and respect, rather than just demanding it.
Fascists demand, and democrats persuade: that is a simple and immutable fact. I am left tonight wondering what on earth the Cameron Government thinks it is at.