Thursday, 18 November 2010

Equality Law: Now You're Just Being "Ridiculous"

The Tories class war continues apace.
'Fury as Theresa May scraps equality law' - The Daily Mirror.
"Home Secretary Theresa May was accused of a shocking attack on the poor yesterday after scrapping an equality law.
"Councils will no longer need to consider disadvantages and inequalities in their policy decisions."
Of course this has pleased those on the right.
'Theresa May will today scrap a ‘ridiculous’ Harriet Harman equality law dubbed ‘socialism in one clause’' - The Daily Mail
May's speech about ending "Harman's law" was "leaked" to the Mail.
Reading between the lines, more worryingly the Conservatives seem to be abandoning any commitment to equality - now they will talk of "fairness".
The Home Office press release announced;
"Controversial rules that would have forced all public bodies to focus spending and services on poorer areas at the expense of better-off communities were today scrapped."
But in a piece of spin as obvious as an iceberg it adds;
"The speech also underlined the government’s ongoing commitment to equality and fairness."
Really? Do go on...
"This included the Home Secretary announcing that a measure in the Freedom Bill will allow people who were prosecuted for having consensual gay sex at a time when this was illegal to apply to have their convictions deleted from criminal records."
May also said in her speech; "...we will give schools the power to take tough action to tackle bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying."
Verily, the Conservatives giveth and the Conservatives take away.
Even if they don't say how they will giveth in practical terms.
Would anyone fall for this?
"Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May has spoken out on a new equalities strategy, announcing that those harboring convictions for consensual gay sex should soon be able to apply to have their records cleared," Jamie Tabberer writes on
"She added: “We will give schools the power to take tough action to tackle bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying."
"May will however scrap an inequality measure that would have called for public bodies to address class inequalities introduced by Harriet Harman, labeling it 'ridiculous'."
Pink News' headline reads; ''May scraps ‘ridiculous’ equality duty but promises new action on anti-gay bullying'
Ridiculous innit?


  1. What good is Pink News if something like this is done and that's how they report it??
    One imagines if Section 28 was introduced today they'd just repeat the Tories' line without comment or criticism.
    They make me sick.

  2. Three good letters on this in The Guardian on Friday...

    Fairness, equality and the white working class

    The Guardian, Friday 19 November 2010

    It's a pity that the government has not understood the purpose of section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 (Home secretary scraps Harman equality law, 18 November). It was about ensuring that white working-class people were subject to the kinds of consideration that women and ethnic minority people and disabled people have had for some years. Of course, class consideration should be an integral part of equality – the fact that most people cannot define class does not alter the effect of class discrimination. It should also be noted that there is no legal definition of a what a race is, but we have had laws against racial discrimination for over three decades.

    If the home secretary thinks that policies might be skewed towards dustmen or cleaners, perhaps she might consider how policies are often skewed towards those who know how the system works and have the loudest voices. If we want a fair and just society, we surely have to take steps to provide equal opportunity for everyone. Ignoring class discrimination will not only fail to achieve that fair society, it will create, in our view, some of the justifiable resentment among white working-class people, some of whom have given their support to the BNP.

    Linda Bellos

    Chair, Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners

    • So Theresa May intends to focus on fairness rather than equality. Fairness is a subjective, pliable word open to interpretation, and influenced by personal judgment, position and culture. Equality on the other hand means "the state of being equal; the same in quantity, quality, size, degree, rank, level etc" (OED). No ambiguity there.

    Mairi McLean


    • In almost the same breath, the government claims wellbeing will be central to economic policy (Report, 15 November), but drops the duty which would have required public authorities to consider the effects of their actions on socio-economic inequality. No one doubts that standards of wellbeing are lowest among the most disadvantaged and this is exactly where policies to improve wellbeing need to be targeted. Theresa May has called the duty a "politically motivated target". That is surely exactly what we want from government.

    If, as the coalition constantly claims, the aim of this government is a fairer society, then requiring public bodies to give consideration to the impact of their actions on socioeconomic inequality is the very least that can be done. We urge the minister for equalities and the government to commit to a fairness test within the Treasury, as called for by leading charities, academics and unions, on any tax rises or spending cuts they introduce. This would ensure that decisions taken to reduce the deficit do not unfairly fall on the poorest in society.

    Prof Richard Wilkinson, Prof Kate Pickett, Kathryn Busby, Bill Kerry

    Co-directors, The Equality Trust