By Tom Miller
By its nature, Government is something that requires compromise, yet political activists, in contrast, tend to be people with developed and specific opinions about how things should go. I’m afraid I happen to be one of those people, so it is not often that, upon reciept of an email/press release from the Labour Party I feel bound to republish it in full. But the Equalities Bill is one which simply looks so good that I feel bound to join the choir and sing its praises. The email below was sent (OK, I doubt she pressed the button, but she will at least have signed it off) by Harriet Harman:
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I’m writing to let you know about the Equality Bill which we have published today. We promised in our 2005 Manifesto that we would have an Equality Bill. So this is keeping an election promise.
The Bill – which will be debated in Parliament next month – has 5 main points. It will:
* introduce a groundbreaking new law to help narrow the gap between rich and poor;
* shine a light on the hidden pay unfairness against women at work;
* end the last lawful discrimination which is against older people;
* allow employers – if they want to – to make their workforce more diverse by choosing for example a woman or black person who was equally suitable for the job; and
* require public authorities – like councils – to use their purchasing power to drive equality when buying goods and services from th e private sector.
It was Labour governments that introduced the Race Relations Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, new legal rights for disabled people and changed the law to allow gay and lesbian “civil partnerships”. Labour governments always stand up for equality. When the Tories were in government they did nothing to press forward on equality – instead they brought in the notorious homophobic “clause 28″.
The new Equality Bill will provide a strong legal framework. It will become law – after being debated by Parliament – in about autumn 2010. But to put flesh on the bones and to make these new measures work in practice we need a Labour government. This is an important law and it’s another good reason to keep Labour in government.
Many party members, trade unionists and others have campaigned for all the things that are in the Bill. I hope that you will feel proud of it.
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Update: Theresa May has described these rather moderate attempts to make information on the gender pay gap publically available (there’s not even any legal compulsion to abolish it) as a ‘class war attack’.
At the moment, the Tories would say that if we redirected all public funds to white-tie orgies in gentlemen’s clubs.
On top of it being wrong, it’s also an incredibly tired and old-fashioned bit of rhetoric that belongs in Norman Tebbit’s repertoire. I can’t believe May was the one who had to drag up the bit about them being the Nasty Party.