Friday, 18 March 2011

Why Lynne Featherstone Is Still On My Shit List

Lynne Featherstone MP (LD) is the Junior Equalities Minister in our beloved government. This week she has been in the news for her committment to the promotion of the rights of transgendered people, especially in their depiction by the media. This is clearly a very good thing. At Forty Shades of Grey, we promote and celebrate the rights of every group, especially their right to be portrayed fairly by the 'mainstream'.

However, I do not have a very short memory. In fact, I have a Shit List. Once you are on my Shit List, you stay on my Shit List until you do something extra-super-amazing, like completely smash patriarchy, solve world hunger, or buy me candyfloss*.

So let's just remember that only four months ago, Lynne Featherstone removed the requirement for companies to disclose how much they paid men and women from the Equality Act in order to try bridge the pay divide (at 22.6%, one of the highest in Europe), instead replacing it with a voluntary scheme (because those work so well).

Speaking in 2008, Featherstone said:
"A voluntary audit system for private industry is hardly worth the paper it's printed on. We need to know when the government actually plans to step in if progress isn't made.
The government's failure to grasp the nettle of private-sector pay will provide little comfort to the enormous numbers of people who are still being discriminated against in the workplace."

Speaking in 2010:
"Right at this moment of financial peril to the nation is perhaps not the moment to introduce mandatory pay audits."
 "It was a different world two years ago – financially and in terms of pressures on business. We are in a completely new landscape now … Much more of partnership working, no longer government dictates, this is absolutely the time to make voluntary pay-reporting work."
"You can go back to everything pre-election and say, Liberal Democrats said this and Liberal Democrats said that. Of course, had we won the election there might be a slightly different angle on this. In coalition we agreed this is the way forward."

So, while I applaud her committment to transgender rights, I will also feel no shame when I describe Lynne Featherstone as a "lying, backstabbing, shitehawk Tory schill".

*might not actually work, but you're welcome to try.

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