Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The price of equality under a Tory-led government is eternal vigilance

The coalition government are rumoured to be at it again

Red Tape Challenge

I'm getting indications from several quarters that, in spite of receiving over 5,300 responses to their 'Red Tape Challenge' consultation site a couple of months ago regarding the Equality Act, the coalition still wants to keep up the pressure for any excuse to emasculate the legislation that protects our rights.

This is a government that is never put off by getting a message they don't like. They just keep coming back and asking the question again until the answer suits their ideological agenda.

I've blogged about the insidious threats to our hard won and precious equality protections before.

During April 2011, a massive social network campaign by organisations and individuals who care about equality led to the thousands of responses to the web site that I mentioned above ... hundreds of times more responses than the average for other 'Red Tape' questions on the web site, and almost unequivocally supportive of either keeping the legislation intact, or even strengthening it.

These are some typical calls to action back then:

The Guardian described the 'Red Tape Challenge' as "Hardly a paragon of e-Democracy"

For more, just Google for "red tape challenge equality act".


To use the jargon of US Military Defence, it is time to go to DEFCON 3 again.

I believe we can expect, from tomorrow evening (Thursday 9th June), a renewed focus on the question which the site poses. And I believe that right-leaning businesses are being prepped behind the scenes to post negative comments on what a costly nuisance such regulation is.

I'm not alone in sounding this warning. It looks as though the Equality and Diversity Forum has been hearing the same rumours, as has the Scottish Rural Equality Network.

Spin, spin, spin till the message is right

In the manner of how these things are spun, all that effort that people previously made to post pro legislation messages could be buried under a few pages of fresh negativity on the site. This would then give the Government a license to say that it wants to act in response to 'demand' to cull such red tape.

I'm posting this advance warning to say that we must all be on standby with our networks to fight back on this.

You have been warned

Rumour has it that the spotlight will be turned on this topic from tomorrow evening and could go on for the rest of June. During that time we must use all the tools at our disposal to persuade people we know, and who care about equalities, to ensure the coalition don't get away with this.

First we need to be on the lookout for evidence that it is occurring. Then we need to get communicating, using email, blogs and social media as before to stoke up awareness and drive defensive action.

We've been warned. The price of equality under a Tory-led government is eternal vigilance.


Christine Burns MBE said...

Note that the first indication of whether the rumours are true is likely to be the reappearance of the Equality Act challenge on the front page of the Red Tape web site. Also watch out for fresh posts which appear to be negative about the burden of the legislation to business. The way to counter these should be to give examples of the reverse ... cases where equality legislation has actually helped business

Denise Anderson said...

I cannot stress how important this is and to heed Christine's words well...

This Government didn't want the equality act... they had to do some deals to allow it through before the election... it's a nuisance to them, like a small fly that they want to swat until there is no life left.

We amassed a good few people when we lobbied on the bill... we know we have allies out there so we need to go say hi, and we need to make sure our voices are as loud as the right wing and religious movements that will shout very loud...

Be ready to fight back...