The faux furore of the ruling Establishment and media over Nigel Farage’s recent comments about giving preference to British workers has ignored some important issues. In particular, the innocent victims of legislation intended to correct social injustice, for example, in employment, and the bigger picture of promoting what is beneficial for communities and society.
Legislation is a blunt instrument for correcting social injustice, even when largely successful; it can also be largely ineffective at addressing the worst abuses especially in the ‘informal’ economy. Legislation is not always victimless and can be abused. For example, laws directed at employment situations create opportunities for fraudulent, vindictive or mischievous claims, especially against the more vulnerable businesses, social enterprises and charities or when the defendant needs to prove innocence (as in some instances within the Equality Act). Also, well-funded special interest groups can be given ‘carte blanche’ to pursue the innocent, and vulnerable, through costly litigation. The unsuccessful legal action(s) supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission against the Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau illustrates what can happen.
Some unfortunate consequences of blunt legislation include mental stress on people labelled ‘employers’, extra burdens and costs affecting competiveness especially of small businesses and a reluctance or inability to create jobs. Also tragic is where legislation, such as the Equalities Act (and predecessors) and the resulting politically correct or fearfully submissive environment, can contribute to the failure to protect the young and vulnerable as in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford, and Sheffield; rape gangs appear to have operated with impunity as the authorities turned a blind eye.
Times move on and, in the light of current knowledge and invention, we do need to regularly review ‘fairness’ or social change inspired legislation to take cognisance of when:
- The mores of society have changed and the unaltered legislation is not necessarily needed;
- The legislation is not fit for purpose or there are unwanted or undesirable consequences;
- The legislation does not act in the national or public interest;
- The legislation can be abused, leading to injustice and vulnerable potential victims;
- There are other more efficacious alternatives available to achieve better results;
- Well-funded special interest groups vexatiously harass the innocent and vulnerable.
It is obviously beneficial if businesses and social enterprises help the local communities in which they operate and society; especially where they identify specific needs that their resources can help address. Such help could also appear outside normal business or commercial activities in the form of, for example, providing sponsorship, donations, seed funding, training, jobs, advice, mentoring etc., or in giving some priority to local suppliers or contractors for their own purchasing. They may also see it as a way of being a good, responsible neighbour, giving something back and saying ‘thank you’. Many business people especially in smaller businesses and social enterprises are there in part at least because they want to make a positive difference; contribute to the common good.
However, we would need to be consistent in encouraging and rewarding this beneficial behaviour, across as many areas or activities as possible to maximise effectiveness, which is not the case today; quite the contrary as Nigel pointed out in respect to employment of British workers. Business and employers are often ‘demonised’ in general, treated as all being equally ‘bad’ and targeted incentives for ethical behaviour (in the interests of local communities and society) are not available.
So much more could be achieved if we actively encourage mutually beneficial relationships or partnerships, with businesses, social enterprises and charities etc, (for the benefit of all) and recognise that many people genuinely want to do the ‘right’ thing (by their communities and society). But are our ruling Establishment and somewhat aggressive special interest groups listening?
Exploitation, unfairness, injustice and divisiveness take many forms. Sadly our current political and opinion leaders appear not to see how they are contributing to opportunities for harm, especially to the most vulnerable in our society. However, Nigel and UKIP with strong commitments to fairness, justice, democracy and prosperity through enterprise are listening and putting all people in this country first.
Photo by ~photomaker66~