Just how many thin ends can a wedge have?Â Â In one day we have two examples ofÂ how the Tories are starting their attack on what few certainties there are in life as they try to reverse all the positive things achieved by the Labour party and indeed the Labour movement that Thatcher never quite got round to.We already know that they don’t like health and safety if our safety gets in the way of corporate profit because the rights of shareholders to make a slightly larger dividend is more important than my right to not get injured or killed at work, so what is next?
Well it looks like they have their eyes on TUPE now.Â Interestingly the rhetoric on this is using two tactics they have already found used elsewhere:
- Saying that removing workers’ rights is actually good for the workers – that TUPE rules destroy jobs rather than save them.
- Calling TUPE protection “gold-plated” with its echoes of the public sector’s supposed ‘gold-plated pensions’
I could spend a long time picking apart even the few details given in that story, but I’m not sure I have the energy this late.Â Â There are not many details given, but it looks like redundancy will not only be the cheapest option instead of the last resort it used to be, but it will now be even easier.Â What next?Â Reduce the statutory minimum redundancy payments (soon to be referred to as platinum-coated no doubt) because “actually it destroys jobs”?
If somebody is harrassed or hounded out of a job are they now going to have barriers placed between them and the prospect of justice at a tribunal just because a few people have made vexatious claims?Â Â Â Not that the anybody in the story is saying that happens or that it happens a lot – just that employers are worried it might happen.
The other scary story in the news is about Westminster council wanting to change the rules on council housing.Â Â This uses another favourite tactic of the Tories, often aided and abetted by the Daily Mail who will always find some tasty examples, where they find an extreme case of some sort of apparent abuse of a system or apparent injustice and use it to justify some measures which will do a whole lot more than address the supposed problem.
In this case Westminster council want to be able to raise council rents in relation to earnings, saying that there are people in council properties earning Â£100k a year while others are homeless.
It is all coached in such terms that to argue against it sounds like defending the indefensible, but I think we must argue against it on both political and practical grounds, but before that, just a couple of thoughts…
- This is Westminster council we are talking about: isn’t at least part of the problem there down to them flogging off huge swathes of their council accommodationÂ in what was proved by the courts to be gerrymandering?
- Do we actually believe that there are 2,200 of their council tenants earning Â£50k a year and 200 of them earning Â£100k a year?
I’m taking their claims with a pinch of salt until I see the methodology of how they arrived at those numbers and in the meantime I’m applying Occam’s Razor to them.Â How likely is it that they went to every council tenant, asked them how much they earn, got replies from all of them, have that many high earners (let’s ignore even the Labour leader’s remarks about middle-incomes.Â Â£50k puts you in the 90th percentile easily) and that those high earners give honest and accurate answers?
How much more likely that they have guessed or extrapolated from one or two cases which may or may not be apocryphal?
I may continue with this tomorrow, and rant about the practical reasons why this is such a bad idea.Â In the meantime, note how they stress again that any changes would not affect existing tenants.Â Whenever I hear that I always imagine them finishing the sentence in their heads with “for now”.