Sunday, 5 November 2017

Don't Dilute the Harassment at Work Issue

Anyone remember Mark Garnier, the International Trade Minister, who was at the forefront of the current harassment scandal - - leading to calls for better systems in place to protect those who work for Members of Parliament, and who, strangely, has managed to keep his job!

The reason I ask is that events seem to have escalated in way that has muddied the waters of worker protection as more politically motivated news is spread by a media frenzy more concerned with bringing down politicians than protecting those who more be victims of abuse.

The last few days have been dominated by Sir Michael Fallon, who, it seems, has been a sleazy sex pest. Charges that should be dealt with, however, the allegations against him, so far, do not relate to behaviour toward his Westminster staff. 

Then we have the curious case of Damian Green, who has had two different types of allegations thrown at him this week, the first a fleeting touch of a knee with a 'misinterpreted' text and, now, allegations of pornography on his Westminster computer a few years ago, following the also curious police incident!

Again these charges do not relate to the treatment of his staff.

The danger here is that these stories begin to dilute the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. It is vitally important that this is dealt with as it not only relates to the Westminster bubble but to the wider world as well.

It has been stated, a lot, over the last week or so, that the set up at Westminster is such that staff are employed by the MP who is, effectively, their manager and HR route therefore staff have no one to complain too in the event of harassment. I have heard, countless times, that employees in other companies (like the BBC) have that route available to them.

What commentators need to remember is that there are many small companies throughout the country whose employees are in a similar position. Obviously, as with MPs, the majority try to be good employers but there will always be an unscrupulous element who, if not sexually harassing employees will harass or bully them in other ways.

Sexual harassment is not a rare occurrence with 20% of women in a recent survey saying they had been harassed in the workplace - - workplace bullying is also a significant issue - - it is not just something that happens in the Westminster bubble and, now it has raised it's head in Parliament, lawmakers must take the opportunity to help ALL VICTIMS of harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Yes sexual harassment is wrong in any setting and those who deign to be picked as leaders and lawmakers MUST hold the highest standards of behaviour across all their public and private life. Yet it is essential for the protection of ALL VICTIMS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT & BULLYING those in Parliament, those elected to represent us, take action on a much wider level.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Dangerous Incompetence of the Conservative Party

The Conservative Party has acted incredibly and dangerously incompetently in its handling of Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover who has been suspended by the party.

Why is it dangerous?

Two Reasons.

Firstly it sets a dangerous precedent that it is okay to publicly accuse someone of wrong doing without having to say what that wrong doing is or, indeed, letting the person who you are accusing even know what the crime they are accused of is.

If Mr Elphicke is guilty of a criminal act then he, like anyone else, should pay however the prevailing precedent in the United Kingdom has always been innocent until proven guilty and the right to have your day in court. To, effectively, publicly denounce someone without giving the information to the person so that they may reply to the accusations is wholly wrong and leaves the door open for others to make public unspecified allegations without recourse.

It is stated that the allegations have been referred to the police, then surely it would be better to wait until the police have decided that there is a case to investigate or, at the very least, inform Mr Elphicke of what has been reported to the police before informing the media of his suspension.

It is also highlights the double standards at work here, the MP for one of Mr Elphicke's neighbouring constituencies, South Thanet, has been investigate by police, charged and faces trial next year ( yet still retains the Conservative Party Whip.

The second area of dangerous incompetence is setting the precedent that it okay to suspend someone without giving them sufficient reason for that suspension.

How many unscrupulous employers would love to have that power! Now handed to them on a plate because the law makers of the land have decided that is the way to handle things?

While the reports are that Mr Elphicke has been suspended, the reality is that it is his membership of the party has been suspended. He is still able to act as an MP - suspension from the House of Commons is a completely different matter and does not, it seems, cover matters of police investigation. 

The Conservative Party have acted in a dangerous and incompetent way in the matter, they would be far better working on ways that protects the rights of all individuals.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

More Bank Holidays - Nice Idea but it highlights establishment ignorance

The Labour Party's proposal to throw in an extra 4 Bank Holidays is a nice idea but it really does highlight the disconnect between those in power and the ordinary people they want to vote for them.

Nowadays, for thousands, a Bank Holiday is just another day in the working week. This is especially true for people in low paid work such as social care, catering or retail. Where others may receive enhanced rates of pay for working the Bank Holiday there is no such benefit for the low paid who receive their minimum wage.

A second reason why this is proposal which is disconnected from the reality of ordinary people is the idea that these Bank Holidays should coincide with the national saints days.

With the exception of St. Andrews Day these all fall in an 8 week period, in this period there are also the two Easter Bank Holidays and, a week after St Georges Day we would have the May Day Bank Holiday! So, in 9 weeks or so, there would be 6 Bank Holidays.

Now, while this may be nice, for the many who have to work on Bank Holidays, there is the additional burden of having to find child care while teachers enjoy their extra days off!

Only the Easter Bank holidays could be guaranteed to actually fall in the school holidays every year and those who need to work, particularly those in low paid jobs face extra costs or loss of earnings.

Surely it would much better to simply promise an increase the the number of statutory holiday entitlement for all workers, so that the time off could be taken at a time convenient for individual workers. It would be a policy headline that would resonate more with those the Labour Party needs to win back and show a greater connection with the reality of the life of the lower paid in the UK nowadays. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

The Ignorant Arrogance of the Establishment

You can’t help noticing, can you, that there is an awful lot of whinging about the current political results sweeping across the world.

The election of Donald Trump has evoked protest marches, as did the European Referendum result in the U.K.

Yet rather than whinge and bemoan the results the ‘establishment’ need to look at how the things that they find so disdainful actually happened and take action to establish public trust in the ‘establishment’.

Donald Trump did not just walk into the White House. There is a very rigorous set of hurdles to jump before anyone can get there feet under the desk in the Oval Office and the journey of Donald Trump was an example of how many people across the world are rejecting the arrogance of the ‘establishment’ and an example of the ignorance of the ‘establishment’ in recognising that.

To become the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump had to first win the Republican Party nomination. What was clear from the outset of that race was that established politicians – e.g. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie etc – were being rejected by many Republicans across the U.S. Even the second place candidate, Ted Cruz, was considered outside the ‘establishment’ in terms of his views etc.

Yet the ‘establishment’ chose to attack the anti-establishment candidates rather than attempt to listen to what people were saying and address the issues that drove them to reject the status quo.

Then Donald Trump was helped to the White House by the Democratic Party. Again the nomination process showed a rejection of the ‘establishment’. The Democratic nomination was supposed to be a coronation of Hilary Clinton, yet the campaign and success of Bernie Sanders showed how many Democrats were rejecting the ‘establishment.’ Again these issues were not dealt with as the Democrat ‘super-delegate’ system ensured Hilary Clinton would get the nomination without really having to listen to the electorate.

Whatever the issues with e-mails etc. Hilary Clinton had begun to lose the election at that point.

So, despite all the warnings and opportunities to change tack, Donald Trump is the inn the White House yet the ‘establishment’ still moan and whinge rather than begin to win the trust of voters back.

Brexit has a similar story. Those advocating remain did little more than give out doomsday scenarios of what would happen if we left the European Union. Yet there were many reasons why people voted to leave, many felt that the ‘establishment’ (of which the EU is a part in the UK) was leaving people behind in terms of quality of life. While immigration is an issue the reality is it is the perceived effects of immigration – e.g. impact of jobs, wages, public services etc. – that people are more concerned with rather than the immigrants themselves. Yet the ‘establishment’ and their advocates often label those who voted Leave as racist!

Even months after the result the politicians and media are solely focused on the ‘plan’ for Brexit and the minutiae of the actual details rather than tackling the real reasons why people voted to leave!

Another example of the ignorant arrogance to the political elite and something that will further erode trust in the ‘establishment’ over the next few years.

Pope Francis has even joined the fray warning against the rise of ‘populist leaders’. Again this ignores the reasons for why such leaders are rising up across the world. People are unhappy with those who are, supposedly, elected to look after their interests.

Politicians, the mainstream media and others within the ‘establishment’ need, right now, to start listening to the people who feel that they have been displaced in the political process, who feel that they have been ignored by the ‘establishment’ and who feel they are losing their quality of life while those in the establishment prosper, in order to take action to address the concerns and issues affecting many people who, if not listened to, will continue to vote for ‘outsiders’.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Real Reason's We Need an October Election

We need a General Election in October, not because of the change in Prime Minister but because of the change in the UK.

In Britain we do not elect the Prime Minister, we elect individual Members of Parliament to represent us and the leader of the party with the most MPs simply becomes Prime Minister by default. There have been plenty of times when the Prime Minister has been in place without an electoral mandate, most recently Gordon Brown and before that John Major from 1990 until the election of 1992.

So, in normal times, a simple change of Prime Minister does not really warrant an election unless there is some constitutional change leading to the people of Britain actually directly electing the Prime Minister.

However these are not normal times.

The country is now split, not by left and right, but by in and out. This split crosses traditional party divides.

The manifestos, visions and ideals that were presented to the electorate in 2015 are now null and void. Now we face a future outside the European Union and this impacts on the lives of all of us.

The British people now need to be able to choose what that future should be. The political parties need to set out how they will negotiate the exit from the EU and what their vision of life outside the EU will be like.

The new Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition must go to the country and explain what they will do to secure the future of the UK, explain how life outside the UK impacts on education, health, social care, employment etc. and what they will do to secure the future of those most in need of help from society. These leaders must go to the people with their vision of a United Kingdom which thrives, their vision of how they will bring British society together.

They must also present their plans for ensuring that leaving the EU doesn’t mean leaving Europe. It is one thing leaving the bureaucracy of the EU system but Britain did not vote to leave wider European cooperation across defence, security, scientific research etc.

The British people must now be given the chance to choose which vision they believe is best for this new future.

On a secondary level we need a General Election so that the electorate can reaffirm or reject their current representative in Parliament. MPs are paid to represent the wishes of the people in their constituency, yet the referendum saw many instances of the MP’s views being completely at odds with the majority of their constituents.

It is only fair that those who wish to continue receiving public money to represent the people of their constituency should ask those people for their support in the post referendum world.

Those are the real reasons we need an October election and it is the duty of those who want to represent us to take their visions of this new Britain to the people and ask us to choose the path to that future. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Immigration Issue

The result of the UK referendum on whether or not to stay within the European Union resulted in a narrow majority to leave.

However since the vote there are many who have protested, called for a second referendum and slated the result with such a passion it makes you wonder if they had shown the same commitment to the EU during the campaign whether the result would have been different!

The important thing now is to move forward and truly understand why people voted to leave in order to ensure that the deal eventually reached by politicians is one that tackles the concerns of those voted, whether or not it be for leave or remain.

Immigration is of course the hottest issue but there is a failure, particularly on the Remain side, about why. A poll has shown that 77% of those who voted leave are happy for existing EU migrants to stay, so if it is not the actual people who have moved to the UK what is the reason that immigration has resulted in a leave vote?

It is the perception of the impact of immigration that is the real issue and one which the Remain campaign dismally failed to counter.

Many people believe that those coming from the EU jump to the front of the queue for housing, benefit payments, hospital services etc. There is also a belief that migrant workers take British jobs and that, in doing so, they push down wages for the rest of us.
Most of these beliefs are over exaggerated (of course there area few migrants who abuse the system but equally some British people do to) much of the over exaggeration is fostered by those in Government seeking to deflect the blame from themselves for many of the economic problems they have caused, unfortunately most were also on the Remain side hence their reticence in being truthful!

So the challenge is to dispel and nullify these perceptions whilst retaining the free movement agreement as part of the UK’s new deal with the EU.

This has to start at the top – both in the UK Parliament and with other EU leaders, who have continuously failed to understand the mood of many citizens of the EU and whose failure to do so has led to the increase in Right Wing organisations across the continent.

But equally all of us have a responsibility to challenge those perceptions, not by branding people as racists but by demanding that those we have elected to represent us, both in the UK Parliament and EU Parliament, tackle these issues immediately and deal with the UK’s exit from the EU swiftly, in a manner allows all the citizens of the UK to benefit from a trade deal that allows people to travel freely across the EU.

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Reality of the EU Referendum

While the political and wealthy elites along with large vested interest institutions inundate us lesser mortals with their arguments for remaining in or leaving the EU the reality is neither argument holds up and, in the end, there will be very little difference for anyone whether or not we are in the EU.

From the Remain Camp we get tales of impending economic doom, with hinted threats of recession and spiralling unemployment. Yet, those European countries who are outside the EU, such as Switzerland and Norway, have better rates of economic growth than the EU as a whole and unemployment rates much lower than the EU and even the UK. So the argument for impending economic doom certainly can’t be backed up by real world evidence.

On the flip side, the Leave camp tell us we will have all this extra money in the economy because we will not be giving it to Brussels. Again a false argument. Outside of the EU Britain will need a veritable army of new civil servants to negotiate and maintain the mountain of new trade agreements needed and the British Government will need to subsidise those areas of business and research that currently receive EU subsidies in order for those businesses and institutions to remain competitive and viable. So the likely benefit of any leftover savings will, at best, be negligible.

Then there is the Remain camp’s security argument, which plummeted to the depths of absurdity when David Cameron claimed it could lead to World War Three. The referendum is about the European Union, not NATO. Within Europe the principle forum for joint defence and security agreements is NATO, an organisation which absolutely nobody has suggested we should leave. It is also nonsensical to suggest that Police and Security forces will cease to cooperate with each other just because the UK is no longer a member of the EU.

The Leave camp tell us Britain will be able to control immigration if we leave the EU. Another fallacy, just because we are not in the EU it will not deter illegal immigrants from trying to enter the UK, the camps outside Calais will remain, and people traffickers will still try to benefit from those seeking the economic benefits of living in the UK. As for legal migration, that will continue because any new trade agreement with the EU will have to include free movement of people because it is equally important the British citizens can work and live freely in the EU states.

The reality is that the whole debate on whether to Leave or Remain is just an ideological rift between those who hold power and hinges on where the power actually lies. It has nothing to do with the lives of the citizens of Britain who will be unlikely to see any real change whatever the outcome of the referendum.   
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