Employment tribunals are a key way for workers to protect themselves against unscrupulous employers but in recent years the number of people going to tribunals has dramatically fallen. This is largely because of the introduction of tribunal fees, whereby workers had to pay, in some cases, thousands of pounds up front in order to have their cases heard. According to figures from the Ministry of Justice quoted by the BBC, the number of cases going to tribunals has dropped from around 5,000 per month before tribunal fees were introduced in 2013, to around 1,600 per month after the introduction. However this situation has finally been remedied, as the Supreme Court has ruled that these punitive fees are against the law.
The Secretary of State for Women’s and Equalities Justine Greening has announced that there will be a consultation on a piece of legislation that would significantly change the legal status of transgender people in British society. The government have also announced a change to the rules regarding blood donation that will benefit gay and bisexual men. These measures are important and should be welcomed, however that should not mean that pressure on the government should be alleviated. Additionally, some aspects of society are still hostile towards the very idea of transgender equality and conversations need to be had so that so that our fellow citizens feel welcome in society.
Another day and another Brexit problem for the government. In order for Theresa May to begin legislating on Britain’s exit from the European Union, the government must receive a legislative consent motion (LCM) from the devolved administrations. Due to the breakdown of the power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland, this therefore means that the Scottish and Welsh governments need to consent to Brexit legislation. However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have said that unless they have a role in the Brexit talks, they wouldn’t pass an LCM. Whilst Westminster can, legally speaking, begin legislating on Brexit without LCMs from Holyrood and Cardiff, this would be politically problematic for the government to say the least.
Because of Theresa May’s general election own-goal, Labour are more influential and united in the House of Commons, and indeed the Tories and now descending into their latest Europe-based civil war. In an attempt to appear more Prime Ministerial, Theresa May gave a speech today in which she reached out to the Labour Party and other parties to work with the government on delivering Brexit. May said “I say to other parties in the House of Commons- come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country”. Labour needs to seize this opportunity in order to preserve the more positive aspects of EU membership whilst also exploiting the fissures currently opening up in the Conservative Party.
The general election result caught many by surprise but when it became clear that the Tories would fall short of a majority all media attention turned to the prospect of the Tory-DUP agreement to keep the government going. This went into overdrive when Lib Dem leader Tim Farron ruled out any coalition or agreement with the Conservatives. With all other MPs in parties openly hostile to the Tories, with the exception of the DUP, the Conservatives found themselves backed into a corner but there remain problems with what they wish to achieve.
Theresa May is, to quote George Osborne, “a dead woman walking” and today’s Queen’s Speech perfectly exemplified this fact. May had initially intended that the announcement of a date for the speech would be a way of gaining leverage on the DUP but this did not happen and as a result there is not yet a formal arrangement in place to prop up a Tory minority government. Because of this political uncertainty the speech was devoid of serious proposals other than vague statements about Brexit that could be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s views of the EU, and a notable absence of proposals that were in the Conservative manifesto. Continue reading →
The Conservatives called this general election because their polling suggested that they would win a landslide victory, with some polls putting Tory support at close to 50% and Labour’s support hovering around 30%. No matter what Theresa May says about Brexit or “strong and stable leadership” it is clear that the election was called for her own political purposes. It was therefore widely thought that manifesto week would be a formality where the Tories are characteristically ambiguous and thus would maintain their lead. The popularity of Labour’s policies and the surprise announcement about Tory changes to pensions and social care have cast doubt on the idea of a coming landslide. The media is now changing their emphasis to focus on the Tory own goal.