Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Cameron's Equality appointments: the latest Whitehall Farce

Equalities has always been central to my trade unionism: if we are not about equality, then we are nothing.

The new Tory Government has said that it thinks equality (other than economic equality, of course) is important, but let's judge them by their actions.

Nicky Morgan is one of the only members of the Cabinet who voted against Equal Marriage. So what job is best for her: why Education Secretary of course: lets have the fight against homophobia in our schools led by a woman who thinks that LGBT folks are second class citizens.

Caroline Dinenage is the new Equalities Minister, also based within the DfE, so perhaps she will be able to keep Ms Morgan in check on LGBT rights. Oh no... in fact Ms Dinenage also voted against Equal Marriage, stating that "the state has no right to redefine marriage".

Both Ms Morgan and Ms Dinenage have sought to play down their opposition to equal marriage, with Nicky Morgan suggesting that if she would have her time again, she would "probably" vote for it.  However my new  Tory MP in Eastbourne, Caroline Ansell has no such doubts.  She has been a vociferous opponent of Equal Marriage, even making it an issue in an earlier local election campaign (despite the council in question having no powers over the issue!)

Looks like we will have to rely on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that the law is being upheld.  A tricky task, as they have had their funding slashed- more than halved under the Coalition government from 2010, and staff dropped from 455 to 180. Expect the EHRC to be in the firing line for the additional billions of cuts promised by the Tories but not identified.

The NUT is proud of its equalities work. I was greatly honoured to serve as chair of both the LGBT and the Disability committees during my time on the National Executive, and to campaign for the establishment of the Equality Seats on the Executive. But we have our work cut out now, to make sure that we stand up for equality, and fight any attacks on our rights or cuts to our services.

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