Friday, December 03, 2010
Employers WILL be allowed to favour women and blacks in Britain
Employers are to be allowed to discriminate in favour of women, black and disabled job candidates under controversial new laws. Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone insisted the shake-up announced yesterday was not about ‘political correctness’ but making the workplace fairer.
The legislation was drawn up by Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman but has been adopted by the Coalition. Other elements of Labour’s Equality Act, including compulsory ‘gender pay audits’ for firms, have been scrapped.
But the Government’s decision to press on with so-called ‘positive action’ will alarm business leaders and Right-wing Tories.
The change in the law, designed to address under-representation of certain groups in the workplace, will enable firms to choose women, ethnic minorities or disabled people ahead of equally qualified white male, able-bodied applicants without the risk of being sued.
It will also apply to gay and transgender people. In theory, men could also be favoured in some areas where they are under-represented, such as primary teaching.
Miss Featherstone said the changes would give women and others a fairer deal in the workplace. ‘These plans are absolutely not about political correctness, or red tape, or quotas,’ she said. ‘It is about giving employers the choice to make their workforce more diverse.’
From April next year, employers will be allowed to start to use the measure as part of their recruitment process. Formal guidance will be published in the new year.
Ministers said they would ‘apply voluntary positive action in recruitment and promotion processes when faced with candidates of equal merit, to address under-representation in the workforce’.
But it emerged that when determining whether candidates are equally qualified, employers will not have to judge solely on the basis of qualifications. They will also be able to take into account ‘general ability, suitability, competence and experience’. That will raise concerns that employers’ judgments could be highly subjective and trigger legal action for unfair discrimination by rejected candidates.
The Government’s equalities strategy said the change in the law did not mean that employers could introduce ‘quotas’ or give someone a job simply because they are female, disabled or from an ethnic minority.
But David Green, director of think-tank Civitas, said the legislation imposed ‘illiberal requirements on employers’. ‘For centuries liberals have fought for individuals to be judged on their own merits not according to their class or race,’ he said. ‘The Government is now to require employers to discriminate on grounds of “group identity”, not personal qualities.’
The equality strategy also proposed schemes to promote equality for homosexuals, such as ‘gay-friendly’ workplaces.
Ministers are also in talks over allowing same-sex couples to register civil partnerships in church, a crackdown on ‘irresponsible’ and sexualised advertising, and clothing that forces children to grow up too young.
Generations 'damaged by too-soft parenting', says British poverty tsar who wants marriage lessons for children
A collapse in ‘tough love’ parenting means many children’s chances of succeeding in life are wrecked before they even start school, David Cameron’s poverty adviser says today.
Former Labour minister Frank Field says marriage and parenting lessons should be introduced in schools, developmental checks brought in for every child at two-and-a-half and benefits withdrawn from feckless mothers and fathers.
In a major report for the Prime Minister, he highlights ‘horrifying’ research showing it is possible to predict whether children will hold down jobs and how successful they will be as adults by the age of two-and-a-half.
He says the decline in parental standards began in the late 1960s with the ‘loss of deference’, leaving children increasingly confused about what was acceptable behaviour. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Field said there was clear evidence that two parents are generally more successful than one at bringing up children – and argued that pupils should be taught so in schools.
The MP launched a scathing attack on his own party’s record in determining poverty purely in cash terms, arguing that the approach has been counterproductive.
He also criticised Chancellor George Osborne for increasing child tax credits for less well-off children. The £2.5billion cost would have been better spent boosting the work of children’s centres to try to improve parenting, Mr Field said.
A key recommendation of his report is that Sure Start centres – currently run by local authorities – should be handed over to GPs, groups of parents and charities, who would run them as co-operatives. They should, in future, play host to ante-natal and post-natal classes, registration of births and applications for child benefit so that all parents engage with them. Parents would be offered midwifery and maternity advice, a home visiting service and a wide network of voluntary support.
Health visitors, Mr Field says, should conduct compulsory checks on all toddlers’ cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
Mr Field said free nursery care – or even welfare payments – should be withdrawn from problem parents who refused to co-operate. ‘I think we have to move to a welfare contract,’ he said. ‘When you go to work, you have an employment contract. When you get benefit, you should have a welfare contract.’
Mr Field said that ethnic minority youngsters often do far better than their white counterparts as their families have retained traditional values. He said while most children brought up in poor families stay poor, ‘Chinese children from poor families as a group do better than all other non-poor children, except non-poor Chinese children. ‘Growing up in an ethnically Chinese family in England is enough to overcome all the disadvantages of being poor.’
On the theme of ‘tough love’, Mr Field added: ‘We used to set clear boundaries, and we loved children but they also knew what the rules were.’
Mr Field, whose attempted reforms were thwarted when he was Labour’s welfare minister, added: ‘A child might have thought they were the most important person in the world, but there were, say, four other people in a household and so to get along, you had to negotiate that. ‘But that was all swept away in the whole, wider loss of deference.
‘At the same time we also decided to do this gigantic experiment in world history where we didn’t insist that fathers who begat children had to pay for them and that taxpayers would take over.
‘We need to rethink. When you look at young children at two-and-a-half, at that point and then at five years you can predict where children can be in their 20s – whether they are going to have jobs and what sort of jobs.’ At school, parenting would be taught across the curriculum.
‘Children should come through school with quite a lot of knowledge about parenting. We don’t want it as a subject – it should be taught as parts of other subjects,’ Mr Field said. ‘So in science, children would learn about the importance of those early years on a child’s brain, and in English, they’d read books contrasting different styles of parenting.
‘One of the things that would be taught at schools is that all other things being equal, two parents do a better job than one parent. ‘That doesn’t mean to say that some one-parent families don’t do brilliantly, or that some two-parent families aren’t hopeless. But as a group, it does make a difference.’
Today Mr Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg will write to Mr Field saying his report ‘marks a vital moment in the history of our efforts to tackle poverty and disadvantage’.
Making Parks Decent Again
America is filled with parks that are filthy, dangerous and badly maintained. The governments in charge plead: We can't help it. Our budgets have been slashed. We don't have enough money!
Bryant Park, in midtown Manhattan, was once such an unsavory place. But now it's nice. What changed? Dan Biederman essentially privatized the park.
With permission from frustrated officials who'd watch government repeatedly fail to clean up the park, Biederman raised private funds from "businesses around the park, real estate owners, concessions and events sponsorships. ... (S)ince 1996, we have not asked the city government for a single dollar."
Sounds good to me. But not to Shirley Kressel, a Boston journalist. I asked her what's wrong with getting the money from private businesses, as Dan does. "Because it goes into private pockets," she said.
So what? "Because it's very good (for Dan) to use the public land for running a private business, a rent-a-park, where all year 'round there's commercial revenue from renting it out to businesses. He keeps all that money. People don't realize that."
So what? I don't care if they think the money is going to Mars. The park is nice, and people don't have to pay taxes to support it. The park is certainly more "commercial" now. The day I videotaped, there were booths selling food and holiday gifts. The public seemed fine with that.
Biederman is not finished with his efforts to save public parks. He next wants to apply his skills to the Boston Common. The Common is America's oldest public park, and like many others, it's largely a barren field. Biederman doesn't want to seek business funding, as he did with Bryant Park, because the area is not as commercial. Instead, he would combine the Bryant Park and Central Park models. I know something about Central Park because I'm on the board of the charity that helps manage it. When government managed Central Park, it was a crime zone. Now it's wonderful. Those of us who live near it donated most of the money that renovated and now maintains Central Park. It's not a business arrangement.
Kressel says she'll fight Biederman's plan for Boston. "(W)e don't need ... to teach our next generation of children that the only way they can get a public realm is as the charity ward of rich people and corporations," she said. "We can afford our public realm. We're entitled to it. We pay taxes, and that's the government's job." The Central Park model "doesn't work for 98 percent of the country," she added.
I don't know what'll happen to the rest of the country, but it's working in Central Park. Why not try it in Boston? It's working for the public.
"It's not, because these people, the money bags, get to decide how the park is used and who goes there and who the desirables are and who are the undesirables. Undesirables are primarily homeless people. ... Homeless people have to be somewhere. If we don't make a system that accommodates people who don't have a place to live, they have to be in the public realm."
Biederman has a ready answer: "We have the same number of homeless people in Bryant Park today as we had when it was viewed by everyone as horrible in the early 1980s. What we didn't have then -- and we have now -- is 4,000 other people. The ratio of non-homeless to homeless is 4,000 to 13 instead of 250 to 13. So any female walking into Bryant Park who might have in the past been concerned about her security says, 'This doesn't look like a homeless hangout to me.' The homeless people are welcomed into Bryant Park if they follow the rules. And those same 13 people are there almost every day. We know their names."
Once again, the creative minds of the private sector invent solutions that never occur to government bureaucrats. If government would just get out of the way, entrepreneurship and innovation, stimulated by the profit motive, will make our lives better.
Australia: A police attack on people's freedoms
A PERSON'S "right to remain silent" with impunity after being arrested will be effectively abolished under a police campaign to be taken to the next state election. Instead of what a person says being used against them in a court, police say a person's refusal to speak should also be able to be used against them in some circumstances.
The NSW Police Association will launch a campaign against the current laws in an effort to pressure both parties ahead of March's poll. Police say professional criminals are exploiting the right to silence, making it harder for police to obtain convictions.
However, civil libertarians said the move would result in more innocent people in jail.
Police association president Scott Weber said the changes would make it harder for criminals to dodge the law and protect innocent people.
He called on the State Government to adopt laws similar to those in the UK. "The British parliament changed the application of the right to silence over 15 years ago to combat the growing misuse of this right, and to deal with the rise of organised crime and terrorism," Mr Weber said. "The British model still gives people the right to stay silent but allows for courts to draw an inference of guilt from a person's silence in certain situations."
NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said being pressured to answer questions that might incriminate them would result in countless innocent people going to jail. "It doesn't serve any benefit," he said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.