‘Let’s cut out equality’

On Friday 6 September a new report crept out from the government equalities office (GEO). It emerged without the company of an official press release and the only media coverage on that day was in the Telegraph and the Mail. Both these papers had apparently been influenced by a private, off-the-record briefing about how the authors of the report (or, anyway, some of them) want equalities legislation to be trivialised, ridiculed and dismissed. ‘How many lesbians have you disciplined?’ asked the headline about the report in the Mail. The headline was followed by a summary of the report which it purported to be describing: ‘Pointless red tape condemned in new report into how public bodies have become obsessed by equality’.
‘Equality,’ writes the chair of the steering group which produced the report, ‘is too important to be tied up in red tape. Let’s cut it out.’ From a grammatical point of view, he speaks more frankly than he intends, for the word ‘it’ in ‘let’s cut it out’ refers grammatically to equality not to red tape. This is only one of many examples in the report of careless phrasing, checking and proof-reading. The cumulative effect is to imply the group which produced the report does not understand what equality is, and does not care. They do know, though, that they don’t like it, and don’t want it. What they want is to cut it out.
The report is an extremely amateurish, ignorant and inadequate piece of work. Some first thoughts about it (http://leftcentral.org.uk/2013/09/10/lets-cut-out-equality-the-independent-steering-groups-report-of-the-public-sector-equality-duty-psed-review-september-2013-2/#more-3703) mention seven of the more obviously unsatisfactory features. These and other features will no doubt be examined by a range of specialist organisations in the coming weeks and months. It will also be appropriate to acknowledge, more than do these first thoughts, that the report contains points that are sound and sensible, and recommendations that should be acted on.


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