Sunday, 21 April 2013

Spiking Section 3 of the Equality Act

The Government has had its eyes on the Equality Act for quite some time. Last year, I attended a consultation at the Government Equalities Office in Victoria about the future of discrimination advice. By the time I had left the building the Governments Red Tape Challenge had been launched with a plan to scrap the general duty. For the longest while they seemed to talk about launching a consultation without actually launching one when they did actually launch it is came with a raft of other proposals relating to the Equality Act. 
The consultation responses to keep the General Duty outnumbered those to scrap it by six to one.  However still like a thief in the night the proposal is not only here, but voted through parliament on a vote of 310 – 244 in that 66 vote difference 41 Liberal Democrat MP’s voted. In the 2010 election, the Guardian was urging many to vote Lib Dem to keep a Tory Government out to protect a core set of values about civil liberties. Here those same Lib Dems were vote en mass to remove the General Duty. Jo Swinson argued that it was unimportant. The governments briefing on the reasoning to remove it was it argued creating unrealistic expectations.
A significant proportion of Lib Dems at their own conference expressed concern over the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and there seemed to be some concerted lobbying to try and get Lib Dem MP’s to at least abstain. It therefore comes as a surprise that the Conservative Peter Bottomley felt able to rebel on this issue whilst only David Ward was the only Lib Dem to do so. If you are still unconvinced about the need to oppose the changes watch the video. If you want to do something about it write to your MP using this site here. If Peter Bottomley can be on the forces protecting Equality perhaps there's still hope.
As local elections draw closer, the Lib Dems are trailing behind UKIP on many polls. In the Borough elections two years ago, they suffered heavy losses in Northampton. Some of the greatest of those were in student areas such as Trinity and St. Georges. With overwhelming more Conservative County Councils being defended in this election, and UKIP polling to get up to 20% of the Conservative vote, the May elections are expected to bring significant change.  It need not have been so for the Lib Dems. They sold their souls for a Proportional Representation referendum and still feel the need to pay for it.            

No comments: