Prompted by a report from the IFS, Conservative Home and The Spectator have woken up to the implications Harriet Harman’s much vaunted Equality Act. Just like some of us did about 6 months ago.
The paradox of Hattie’s little scheme is that the result will be the diametric opposite of equality and the total opposite of tolerance and forbearance. As minority after minority take their grievances of perceived prejudice, disadvantage, offence or discrimination through the courts, a hierarchy of protected minorities will emerge. The result will be an acceleration of the balkanisation of society that is already well established under this Labour government. The very divide-and-rule approach to control that has deprived the British people of their ability to just rub along together, brushing off perceived sleights.
- Gay rights will trump Christian rights.
- Muslim rights will trump gay rights and women’s rights.
- Women’s rights will trump men’s rights (except Muslim men).
- Pedestrians rights will trump those of cyclists.
- Cyclists’ rights will trump those of motorists.
- Mothers with baby buggies will trump the rights of pedestrians, especially if they’re breast-feeding at the time.
- Children’s rights will trump those of parents, except mothers, who are a protected group.
This way lies madness. Can anyone not see that?
Okay – perhaps the full implications didn’t quite fall into place back then – specifically that the..
law opens a government to judicial challenge over virtually anything that it does.
What that means is that, as Theresa May pointed out earlier this month,
… cuts in the budget could widen inequality in Britain and ran a "real risk" of breaking the law, a letter leaked to the Guardian shows.
The letter was sent to George Osborne on 9 June, less than a fortnight before his emergency budget, and was copied to David Cameron.
May wrote "there are real risks" that people ranging from ethnic minorities to women, to the disabled and the old, would be "disproportionately affected".
May urged that steps be taken to avoid breaking the equality laws, warning that "there is a real risk of successful legal challenge".
Paragraph 32 of Harman’s Act states that any individual is not prevented "from bringing judicial review proceedings against a public body which has not considered socio-economic disadvantage when taking decisions of a strategic nature". So if anyone makes cuts which Jo Blogger thinks hit kids with special needs, they can have the decision subject to a judicial review. And, perhaps, try to claim legal aid for so doing. The Treasury might claim this is baseless, but they may end up being sued nonetheless – it will be great fun for the unions to find out how far they can go.
In this way, Labour transferred power from parliament (where it was about to lose power) to the courts (where the lefty judiciary reign supreme). Their calculation was that if they did this quietly enough, and in technicalities, the Cameroons would not wise up to it because of their aversion to detail. Cameron should have repealed the Equalities Act instantly.
But he won’t, probably because the DibLems won’t let him, and we’ll have years of legal wrangling while any ability to slash the deficit is mired in legal red tape.
Of course, no mention of the Equality Act could pass by without the Wimmin wanting some of that action, via their favourite fake charity:
Fawcett launches legal challenge to government budget
The Fawcett Society has filed papers with the High Court seeking a Judicial Review of the government’s recent emergency budget. (1)
Under equality laws, we believe the government should have assessed whether its budget proposals would increase or reduce inequality between women and men. Despite repeated requests, the Treasury have not provided any evidence that any such an assessment took place. (2)
Even a top line assessment of the budget measures show 72 per cent of cuts will be met from women’s income as opposed to 28 per cent from men’s. This is because many of the cuts are to the benefits that more women than men rely on, and the changes to the the tax system will benefit far more men than women.
ORLY? Well, let’s have a little think about that. Or we could let Anna and DK take care of the thinking.
Ed West is on good form too.