Friday, 13 March 2015

Farage puts foot in it

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has done a minor boo-boo. In an interview with former CEHR (Commision for Equality and Human Rights) boss and big-headed git Trevor Philips Nige said words to the effect of: British jobs for British workers (something Gordon Brown also said but never legislated for) and of course Trev immediately started on about skin colour and race and managed to get Nige to say that discrimination on the grounds of race would be allowed by a UKIP government. This is almost certainly not what Nigel meant but journalists trip up Our Nige and his merry band quite easily.

Current "equality" law in the UK is a compete mess. The 2010 Equalities Act makes it illegal to "discriminate" in employment or the provision of a public service on the grounds of nine protected characteristics: race, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, religion, pregnancy and gender reassignment. "Discriminate" means provide less advantageous conditions on the grounds of a protected characteristic. The Act goes on for a hundred pages of turgid and impenetrable prose. It works on the kitchen sink principle of just keep writing and eventually you will cover everything.

Prima facie it doesn't look like nationality is in there. But it is. The definition of race includes racial group, ethnicity and nationality. The fact that nationality has nothing to do with race seems to have eluded the people who wrote the law.

However if you want to discriminate on the grounds of red-headedness or left-handedness that's fine; they forgot about those things. You can also discriminate against short people, unless of course they are so short they could be deemed disabled.

The law does allow a certain amount of discrimination against white people; not in jobs directly, but in giving places on training courses leading to jobs. You are allowed to reserve training course places for ethnic minorities and of course the ones who have done the course are more likely to get the job at the end.

Nigel rightly wants the whole dog's breakfast torn up and started over. Listing the grounds on which you are not allowed to discriminate is a never ending task. There will always be more to add. Better would be a more generalised don't discriminate on any irrelevant grounds. For example when hiring a worker you would be expected to discriminate by education, experience, ability etc, but not hair colour.

The issue of nationality is a bit more contentious. Nationality is not something that would directly affect a person's ability to do a job, but the concept of a nation state is inherently discriminatory. If you are a citizen of a country you have the right to live/work/vote there and other people do not. Other people do of course have their own countries where they can live/work/vote. The UK is our country, run and paid for by us the British citizenry for our own benefit. Discrimination on the grounds of nationality is therefore reasonable.

No comments: