I can’t quite remember when it was that my sense of outrage at HMG obscenities gave way to grim resignation. I don’t believe it was any single defining event, nor any specific date. Rather, I think it was a gradual and cumulative process.
Whatever the causes, though, I am rather glad I went through that transition because now I can confront news like this and still keep my blood pressure at tolerable levels:
“Under plans to be published by the Home Office in the next fortnight, the Race Relations Act is expected to be tightened to include private householders as part of sweeping changes expected to trigger a flood of new tribunal cases. Householders could be taken to tribunals if they behave in a racist manner towards domestic help, for example, by refusing to hire a black carer for children.”
Now, all anti-discrimination laws are misconceived and for so many reason that I would almost be required to start a new blog in order to list them all. They are intolerable enough in the workplace but by their extension to the home, HMG is making it clear that the distinction between the private and the public is the thing that they find intolerable. Surely I am not alone in regarding the matter of who one does and does not allow in one’s home to be a matter requiring the utmost discrimination?
Still, there is a get-out clause (of sorts):
“The only exemption would be if they can show a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ to hire someone of a particular racial group – such as an elderly Muslim woman who wanted a home help who was also a Muslim.”
And, naturally, by extension an elderly Catholic woman, say, will be able to insist on a Catholic home-help. Yes? Well, I have this nagging feeling that the answer to that will, in practice if not theory, be ‘no’. So far, so bad but here’s the real sting in the tail:
“Under the Home Office proposals, for the first time the burden of proof in all employment tribunals would also be shifted so that it is effectively up to employers to prove they are not racist, rather than workers to prove that there was discrimination, so long as there is a prima facie case to answer.”
And another Common Law tradition bites the dust. Not the first and assuredly not the last. The injury is not just theoretical; it is decidely difficult to prove a negative and, being unlikely to be poor enough to qualify for any state assistance, homeowners will find themselves threatened with expensive law-suits that they almost certainly cannot defend. Losing will put their savings and their homes up for grabs.
But, despair not, putative nanny-hirers because resistance is already underway:
“A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry said it would broadly welcome the changes, although the shift in the burden of proof set a ‘worrying precedent’.”
Go to it, CBI!! By George, those guys know how to give the government a hard time, don’t they. It’s not like they’d rollover and die is it.
I don’t know about you, but if I was ‘ethnic’ I would be very opposed to this kind of thing. It means that employers (well, white employers, let’s face it) are being invited to regard black and brown people not as human beings but as living, breathing threats of destitution; bankruptcy on legs. Hardly conducive to a happy melting pot.
If common sense and concern for a harmonious civil society prevailed, then HMG would slash-and-burn all this legislation. But then being of the grimly resigned persuasion, I realise that common sense is the declared enemy of those with a Gramscian agenda
[My thanks to Andrew Dodge for the link]