Archive for the 'public policy' Category

Happy National Voter Registration Day 2015 #TakePower

One of the things we have been talking about at Policy Press is how we can do more to affect social change. Given that this is an election year our first area of focus is around increasing youth voter participation and so we are pleased to be supporting National Voter Registration Day today. Alison Shaw shares her thoughts on why Policy Press are supporting the campaign…

Policy Press - 018 resizeThe Scottish Referendum in September last year had the highest voter turn out in recent history, with a staggering 84.59% of people voting. The election enabled 16 – 17 year olds to vote for the first time in the UK and over 100,000 of them turned out, shattering the idea that young people as a whole are disengaged by the political process. 

Of course turning up at the polling station and making your mark in the voting booth is really the end point of a much longer journey – and one that starts with making sure that people are registered to vote.

Living in a democracy, as we do, voting is the main way in which we all have the power to make our voices heard. Consequently we’re supporting National Voter Registration Day (#NVRD) today. The campaign was set up in response to the lack of education and awareness around voter registration in the UK and last year NVRD registered 50,000 people. Raising the bar even higher, this year they have set a target of registering 250,000 people.

417-2NVRD focus on encouraging young people to register to vote and a quick look at the figures show why this is such an important group to focus on. In the 1964 general election just over 76% of 18 – 24 year olds turned out to vote. By 2010 that figure had fallen to 52% – though that was at least up on the 38% of young people who had turned out to vote in the 2005 general election.

What worries me is the sense that we have moved from a position of action and activism in the sixties, to a place of increasing youth voter apathy from the nineties, to a position now, potentially, of actively choosing not to vote. Whilst influential celebrities such as Russell Brand have done a sterling job of putting politics into the spotlight for a more disengaged generation, the idea of actively not voting as a way to give voice to the opinion that those who govern us do not fully represent us, is deeply counterintuitive to me.

I believe that not voting is a way to give those who go on to govern us more power not less. The lack of an overall majority in the 2010 general election left us with a hung parliament, resolved by the coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. In effect the Conservative party became the first party on the basis of achieving only 36% of the overall vote. By not voting, we effectively give politicians a mandate to do as they see fit, irrespective of whether that is in our best interests (and with a good chance that it won’t be).

Voting now is more important than ever. Since 2010 we have seen the rise and rise of austerity measures in politics and the impact that has on the lives of everyday people, including young people. Nearly 17% of 16 – 24 year olds are unemployed, and those who have opted to go to university will start their working lives with high levels of debt, and no guarantee of jobs when they graduate.

I believe we have a responsibility to be actively engaged in our democracy and to actively engage other people, including young people, in the process of democracy. What is positive is that we have access to more information, analysis and opinion on politics and policies today than we’ve ever had in modern history. And more than ever it would seem people are accessing this information from a variety of different sources, hungry for information they can trust.

The first step however is to make sure that people are registered to vote. Then, and only then, can we take the next steps to support them on that journey to the polling booth. We will be watching with interest today and engaging with bitetheballot.co.uk activities over the coming months, keeping you updated on our progress here. #TakePower #NVRD

If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in reading…

….the first in a new election series from the University of Bristol called Speakers’ Corner:

Speakers’ Corner: Have the Liberal Democrats lost the student vote?

Hain: ‘Public investment is key to regenerating economy’

Peter Hain’s Back to the future of socialism publishes today. In his guest blog post to celebrate the launch of the book Hain questions how we got into the current financial situation of cuts and austerity. He shares his views on the need for a radical response from all politicians, but most especially the left, to take us back to a fairer future…

Labour MP Photocall

Rt Hon Peter Hain, MP

Did Big Government or Big Banking cause the global financial crisis? And what should be done?

Go for cuts and austerity, or investment in growth and jobs? Give market forces a free hand, or harness and regulate them for the common good? Forget about fairness or share the proceeds of growth?

And, one of the key questions for me is, quite simply, is democratic socialism outdated or the answer to today’s challenges?

Sense of purpose

In 1956 Anthony Crosland’s classic text, The Future of Socialism, furnished the democratic left with a new sense of purpose. By freeing Labour from past fixations, and by giving traditional Labour values a contemporary appeal, he gave the party a controversial fresh focus, reviving its spirit and restoring its impatience for progress.

Crosland’s approach – essentially one in which the state sought to spread the benefits of economic growth within, and without challenging the capitalist framework – underpinned Labour’s approach until the global economic crisis of 2008.

But the kind of capitalism we have faced since is a more internationally and financially integrated, more unstable and a more unfair system than Crosland’s generation ever anticipated: productive but prone to paralysis, dynamic but discriminatory.

It is a capitalism whose self-destructive tendencies require far more radical responses than the neoliberal, right wing orthodoxy of the post banking crisis era could ever provide. Responses that pose acute challenges to a Labour Party intent on getting the economy growing again whilst putting the public finances back in order. Responses to be made against a constant, and seemingly resonant, message through the media for more cuts to cure ‘the deficit, stupid’.

“Governments across the world allowed the financial system…to become a law unto itself”

I strongly dispute this, and believe that public investment, not ever more austerity is the answer – both to regenerate our economy and get the deficit down. It is a case for faster fairer greener growth where an active role for Government holds the key.

In truth – at the very least in terms of banking – governments were too small and too passive, not too big and too active as the right repetitively insists. Governments across the world (including Labour’s) allowed the financial system over a 30-year period to get out of control and become a law unto itself. Takeovers and mergers led to banks so big they couldn’t be allowed by government to fail. Bankers bent rules to lend ever more riskily without anything like enough capital cover, until it all unravelled to catastrophic effect.

The real choice facing Britain should be between the right’s insistence on minimalist government and the left’s belief in active government; between the right’s insistence on a free market free-for-all, and the left’s belief in harnessing markets for the common good. Politics has to change, with Labour becoming a different type of political party. And Britain’s future must be at the heart of Europe, leading a new progressive internationalism.

Back to The Future of Socialism aspires to be a defining book for the democratic left in this era, just as past generations saw Tony Crosland’s seminal book in his era. You can be the judge of whether it meets that test!

Follow @PeterHain on twitter and for latest news on the book search #backtothefutureofsocialism

Back to the future of socialism [FC]Back to the future of socialism publishes today and copies can be purchased at a 20% discount from the Policy Press website – here.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

The devolution deception

This article was first published by The Planner, the magazine of the RTPI.

England’s core cities welcome the opportunity to take charge of their own affairs. But the government’s proposals for devolution may not be all that they seem, argues Policy Press author Robin Hambleton 

HambletonThe government has attempted to portray the devolution proposals for governance change in cities like Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield as a bold step towards the decentralisation of power in England. But are these so-called ‘devo deals’ all that they seem?

Until November 2014, prime minister Margaret Thatcher stood tall as the unrivalled centraliser of power in British politics. Her Rates Act of 1984 enabled the central state to decide, over the heads of local voters, how much councils would be allowed to tax individuals and businesses. In countries that value the importance of local democracy in society, such a centralising step is regarded as incomprehensible.

However, with a speech on 3 November 2014, Manchester to get directly elected Mayor, chancellor George Osborne set out an ambition to introduce into England an era of centralisation on steroids, one that goes well beyond the Thatcherite command-and-control state of the 1980s.

“So startling is the nature of current central government policy towards local government that I suggest we need a new word to encapsulate it”

Osborne’s Autumn Statement, presented to Parliament on 3 December 2014, confirmed his bid to finish off the idea that locally elected democratic institutions should be accountable to the people who elected them. Rather these elected local authorities are to be told by the central state to decimate local public services in the name of austerity.

So startling is the nature of current central government policy towards local government that I suggest we need a new word to encapsulate it.

To ‘Osbornify’ public policy involves introducing extreme measures to boost the power of the central state while all the time pretending that power is being decentralised. It takes political spin to a new level of deception.

Osborne said, in his November announcement, that his proposals to create a directly elected mayor for the Manchester conurbation, with powers over transport, housing, planning and policing, would “give Mancunians a powerful voice and bring practical improvements for local people”. Not all bad, you might say.

But he went on to state: “I want to talk to other cities who are keen to follow Manchester’s lead – every city is different and no model of local power will be the same’.

Think about it. The Osborne proposals involve Whitehall taking three massive steps to centralise power.

First, who is going to decide which areas of the country are to have these new governance arrangements? Ministers. Second, who will decide the criteria for devolving power to these lucky localities? Ministers. Third, who will be crawling over the detailed proposals individual cities have for urban development and socio-economic innovation? Yep, ministers.

This is classic divide and rule tactics. Cities around England understand this well enough. However, at this point in time, they have few options. The solidarity of local government is a casualty as localities vie for the bespoke attention of central government.

In preparing a new book, Leading the Inclusive City: Place-based innovation for a bounded planet, I have been fortunate to work with a number of innovative cities in other parts of the world. I present 17 stories of bold civic leadership, drawn from 14 countries, to show how powerful elected local authorities are advancing social justice, promoting care for the environment, boosting local economies and strengthening community empowerment.

In many of these places, civic leaders are creating more inclusive cities by promoting civic pride, social innovation and place-based creativity. English local authorities can do the same, but not if Osborne is allowed to suffocate local democracy.

Robin Hambleton is professor of city leadership, Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments at the University of the West of England, Bristol. We are grateful to The Planner, the magazine of the RTPI, for allowing us to re-produce this article. An abridged version will appear in the February edition of the magazine.

Robin Hambleton’s book, Leading the inclusive city: Place-based innovation for a bounded planet is available to buy at 20% discount from the Policy Press website.

Politics: Local power can make a difference to quality of life

Policy Press author Robin Hambleton, whose book Leading the Inclusive City: Place-based innovation for a bounded planet publishes next month, argues that it is time to sweep away the obsessive centralisation that is holding Britain back

HambletonThe very high level of participation in the Scottish Referendum on 18 September is good news for all those who care about the quality of democracy in the UK.

The turnout, at 84.6%, was a massive improvement on the 65.1% who voted in the last UK General Election back in May 2010. Indeed, the citizens of Scotland have forced a re-write of the record books. They delivered the highest turnout in any election held in the UK since 1918, which was the first year all adults enjoyed the right to vote.

Lessons learned

The first, and most important, lesson to draw from the lively political debates in Scotland is that place-based power matters. The referendum shows that, when citizens are granted significant decision-making authority, power to take decisions that really matter, they are more than ready to step up to the plate.

The events of last month provide a refreshing contrast to the long-established pattern of declining voter engagement in national and local government elections across the UK.

Westminster and Whitehall must shoulder much of the blame for the deterioration in the civic culture of Britain during the last thirty years. This is because successive governments have pursued a policy of, what I have called elsewhere, ‘centralisation on steroids’.

Over the years the ‘we know best’ London-centric political class, aided and abetted by our over-centralised media, have lost touch with large sections of the electorate.

The second major lesson from the Scottish Referendum is that the days of obsessive centralisation of decision-making in Whitehall should now be numbered. It is clear that avenues for introducing a dramatic decentralisation of power have now opened up within England.

The opportunity must not be missed

But there is a risk that the chance to give a major boost to local democracy will be missed. Discussion of the intricacies of voting arrangements in Westminster – the so-called ‘English Votes for English Laws’ debate – is in danger of distracting us from the larger prize.

Last month Scotland came close to breaking away from the UK. The passion of the referendum campaign demonstrated truly massive frustration with the excessive centralisation of power within the British state.

Believing that adjusting voting rights in the Houses of Parliament represents an adequate response to the public clamour for the real influence in decision-making is to demonstrate a startling lack of understanding of what is called for.

What is to be done?

First, it is vital that politicians in Westminster avoid the temptation to try to execute a ‘quick fix’. Rather, they should seize the opportunity for a radical overhaul of the British constitution. This requires, almost certainly, the creation of a constitutional convention – one that takes account of the voices of civil society, local government and the regions, as well as the political parties.

On 19 September the Prime Minister made a speech in Downing Street in which he proposed that the restructuring of power in England should take place ‘in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland’. This is a wholly misguided approach.

The starting point should be to consider how to revitalise local democracy and local politics across the entire country. There is, to be sure, little public craving for the creation of another tier of government within England.

freiburg_200So, instead of wasting money on trying to reintroduce regional government, it makes far more sense to drive power down to the local authority level and, for some powers, to the level of the city region or county region. We already have a pretty good system of local government, one that can be up-dated, strengthened and given serious fiscal power.

It is worth recalling that, as local government has had its powers reduced, voter turnout in local elections has declined to an unacceptably low level. In recent years, with an average voter turnout hovering at around the 31% mark, British local democracy is sick. It has now established itself firmly at the bottom of the European voter turnout league tables.

Local voting rates in other countries are far higher with, for example, Germany at 70%, Denmark 72% and Sweden 79%. In these countries local governments are far more powerful than in the UK.

The challenge, then, is to reverse the process of centralisation and bring about a radical rebalancing of power within England.

Learning from abroad

The evidence from my recent research on place-based leadership in other countries shows that really powerful elected local authorities can make a major difference to the local quality of life. Moreover when the power of place is given a boost, and this is hardly surprising, public participation in civic affairs also rises.

Strong local authorities are now to be found in all continents taking bold steps to advance social justice, promote care for the environment and tackle climate change. From Curitiba to Melbourne, and from Copenhagen to Portland, we can see that radical urban innovation flourishes when power is decentralised.

Leading the inclusive city [FC]

Leading the Inclusive City will be launched at a talk given by the author at the Watershed in Bristol on 24th November 2014 as part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas. To book tickets please visit the website here.

 Leading the Inclusive City can be pre-purchased at the 20% discount price of £19.99 (rrp £24.99) from the Policy Press website – click here for more details.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Scotland decides: Could the ‘Yes’ vote deliver a different kind of Scottish society?

Open University academic and Policy Press author Gerry Mooney has written extensively on the subjects of Scottish social policy and devolution. On the eve of the referendum to decide whether Scotland should become fully independent from the UK Mooney shares his views on how a ‘Yes’ majority return on Thursday could lay the foundation for a more socially just Scottish society. Interview and report by Rebecca Megson.

Gerry Mooney feels whatever happens at the referendum, the debate has changed the political landscape of Scotland

Gerry Mooney feels whatever happens at the referendum, the debate has changed everything for Scotland

Gerry Mooney is a ‘Yes’ man. Unapologetically so, in fact.

What’s more, he is bursting with excitement about the possibility of Scotland returning a majority ‘Yes’ vote for independence tomorrow. He believes that this will be the first step on the long road to developing a different kind of society from the rest of the UK, a society that is centred on equality and fairness.

But Mooney is quick to point out a misunderstanding about the ‘Yes’ vote, one that he suggests is being deliberately made by the Unionist politicians – that is those on the ‘No’ side of the debate.

“A ‘Yes’ vote has been portrayed as a vote for the SNP, for Alex Salmond and for Scottish nationalism”, says Mooney.

“In reality, the vast majority of people voting ‘Yes’ wouldn’t actually go on to vote SNP and are not nationalists. What a future independent Scottish Parliament would look like, we simply don’t know yet. That will have to be decided further down the line, through Scottish general elections.”

Misunderstanding

This isn’t the only misunderstanding about the referendum debate south of the border, according to Mooney. Whilst the UK national news focuses on what he calls ‘blazing representations of Scottish nationalism’ – men and women in kilts and tartans, calling upon the spirit of Braveheart – his experience is that this has been very much on the margins of the debate in Scotland.

“On the ‘Yes’ side there is no need to assert Scottishness, it is taken for granted, whilst for the ‘No’ camp they have to almost ‘overdo it’ in stressing their Scottishness,” says Mooney

“It is the ‘No’ campaign who have actually had to do a lot more because of the independence campaign as far as nationalism is concerned. They’ve had to defend their Scottishness, to develop and portray a sense of Britishness and a British nationalism that includes Scottishness.”

“Many people are unhappy with the policy decisions being made by the UK coalition government in London”

The real debates in Scotland over the past couple of years leading up to the referendum have centred on future Scottish public services and social policy, rather than rampant nationalism. Mooney says:

“Many people are unhappy with the policy decisions being made by the UK coalition government in London. There is a lot of opposition to austerity, to the privatisation of schools and the privatisation of the NHS. These policies are out of tune with what many in Scotland would like to see.”

Irrespective of the outcome tomorrow, Mooney believes the political and policy landscape will never be the same again in Scotland. Even if the ‘No’ campaign wins, if the ‘Yes’ campaign gets 48% of the vote, as some polls are predicting, that isn’t a voice that is going to disappear. The consequences of a ‘No’ vote are, according to Mooney, uncertain.

Mooney’s enthusiasm for Scotland’s independent future is infectious. He feels that the spirit of devolution will be equally as infectious for the rest of the country, predicting calls for greater devolution in Wales and the instigation of an Assembly in the North of England if a ‘Yes’ vote is returned.

Westminster Parliament feels 'remote' to many in Scotland - Photo Wikipedia

Westminster Parliament feels ‘remote’ to many in Scotland – Photo Wikipedia

“The rise in the dominance of London and the south of England in the last 10 years has really shifted the view on devolution. London seems as remote and alien to people in the North of England as it does to people in Scotland.”

Until recently, the ‘No’ campaign and the main political parties at Westminster have largely ignored the possibility of Scotland returning a ‘Yes’ vote. Mooney says:

“It is astonishing to see that the UK government has suddenly woken up to the fact that this referendum is happening. In the last two weeks, as the polls have shown that the ‘Yes’ vote was consolidating and catching up with the ‘No’ campaign, the ‘danger’ button has been pressed down in London.”

Mooney is amused that, as he sees it, the panic in Westminster has led to Scotland making the lead item in the news every day. Renewed focus on the country is, he believes, largely being seen as too little, too late.

“It looks extremely desperate. Until these past two weeks the ‘No’ campaign has been completely and utterly negative, portraying Scotland in crisis if it votes for independence. Now, all of a sudden there are promises of more powers and discussion of what being part of the UK can do for Scotland.”

There have been a lot of promises made by London if Scotland votes ‘No’ but Mooney feels that there’s very little sense of what the promises are likely to amount to in the long run, or if Westminster politicians can be trusted.

He says: “We don’t know what a future Scotland will look like – we can’t guarantee it will be the future we want and hope for but we will have more power to create that society if we’re independent.”

“However, we can be certain, if it’s a ‘No’ vote there will be more austerity, more cuts, more poverty and rising inequality.”

Mooney has no illusions that the change will happen overnight. However he is confident that the creation of a new Scotland that is focused upon the pursuit of equality can only be realised if Scotland delivers a ‘Yes’ majority tomorrow.

More from Gerry Mooney
Social justice and social policy in Scotland [FC]Read Social justice and social policy in Scotland – available at the special discounted price of £15.00 (RRP £28.99) from the Policy Press website this month.

Articles by Gerry Mooney
OpenLearn articles can be found here

The Conversation articles can be found here, including the recent: ‘Campaigns fight to define what Scottish Social Justice means’ 

On Discover Society: ‘Scotland: State and devolution…but not revolution…as yet?’

In the Scottish Left Review on ‘Poverty and Independence’

Gerry’s other publications can be viewed at his OU webpage

What is the ethical purpose of local government?

Ines Newman shares her thoughts on the ethical purpose of government

Ines Newman shares her thoughts on the ethical purpose of government

Ines Newman’s book Reclaiming local Democracy published in May.  At a launch in London on 10 June politicians, media commentators and the public debated some of the key issues covered in the book.  Ines Newman tells us more in her guest blog.

I wrote ‘Reclaiming local democracy’ because I want to generate a challenging debate on the ethical purpose of local government as well as more interest in local democracy. Brilliantly, that’s exactly what happened at the launch of the book earlier this month. Local vs central, financial independence and moving the agenda on from ‘what works’ to ‘what should an ethical local government do’ were all hotly debated.

Panel of speakers at Reclaiming local democracy book launch June, London

Panel of speakers at Reclaiming local democracy book launch June, London

Contributing editor to the Guardian’s Public Leaders Network, David Walker, raised the issue of a ‘postcode lottery’ if councils deliver different services in different areas. If, on the other hand, local authorities have an obligation to meet basic human need how can this provide scope for local decision-making? Such questions go to the heart of central/local relationships.

The basic human need for shelter places an obligation on governments to provide housing. But the form of the built environment and the variety of households in each area requires a discussion in each local authority area, involving residents, around what type of housing should be built and where.

My concern is how the local can influence the national

"I believe the central/local debate is misframed"

“I believe the central/local debate is misframed”

I believe that the central/local debate is ‘misframed’. We will always need strong central government to promote equality and facilitate redistribution. The question, therefore, is not just about which services should be devolved to local government.  More significantly, it is about how local government, together with local social movements, can help define basic human needs and rights at both national and local levels.  So my concern is how the local can influence the national. I see the Localism Act 2011, with its financial control of local government and minor devolution, as ‘hollow’ localism.

Financial independence

The lack of financial independence led to a debate on council tax. Council tax is highly regressive and has been made worse by its devolution to local government with reduced funding. This has resulted in many of the poorest households facing the highest cut in their living standards ever imposed by a government, as they now have to pay the ‘new poll tax’.

Hilary Benn shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Hilary Benn shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government engrossed in Reclaiming Local Democracy

I believe that if politicians have the ability to right an injustice, they should do just that. Hilary Benn, the shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, raised the political difficulties that will be caused by the protests from those who will lose out. Another contributor suggested that it was therefore essential for council tax reform to be in a party manifesto so that the democratic mandate could be used to support implementation. I would like to see local councillors campaigning now on council tax reform, to ensure the voice of poorer residents is heard against the more powerful, affluent residents whose interests are threatened. This is precisely where the local should be influencing the national, so we can develop a fair tax base for local government.

Ethical approach

In the book I argue that we need to move the agenda from ‘What works?’ to ‘What should an ethical local government do?’ Hilary Benn argued that these two questions are not necessarily in conflict and I agree with him. I believe the problem with the ‘What works?’ question is that it is usually asked in relation to a narrow output target which may fail to address the causes of the problem. The ‘best’ solution can then be determined by an expert. If such a methodology is to be combined with an ethical approach, the political questions should take priority. By providing a clear set of questions to ask in relation to the ethical implications of policy decisions, the book aims to support the political process and councillors who want to make a difference.

It’s great that the book has started to generate a debate. The green shoots of a new revival in local democracy are evident and I welcome feedback on the themes both of the debate and the book in general.

Reclaiming Local DemocracyReclaiming local democracy is available at a special discount rate on the Policy Press website.  Get involved in the debate by encouraging your local library to order a copy! 

A missed opportunity: Why the Law Commission got it wrong on hate crime

Jon Garland, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey

Jon GaJG picrland and Neil Chakraborti are co-editors of Responding to hate crime: The case for connecting policy and research, published by Policy Press last month.

 

Recently the Law Commission published the results of its year-long investigation into the efficacy and scope of hate crime laws. The consultation, a reference from the Ministry of Justice, had the specific remit of examining the ‘aggravated’ offences and incitement to hatred legislation in order to see if these should be extended to include groups that were not previously protected.

That the Law Commission was asked to undertake this review at all was a reflection of the increased social significance of hate crime and also (and relatedly, of course) the heightened importance of hate crime legislation. Supporters of this legislation argue that it has a specific, symbolic importance in that it reflects society’s condemnation of the victimisation of marginalised and disadvantaged groups. However, one of the issues examined in this process was the inequality that exists in the provision for different victim groups within the mish-mash of hate crime legislation. The criminal justice system currently recognises just a handful of different identity communities as hate crime victim groups – the so-called ‘five strands’ of race, religion/faith, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity – about which the police are required to collect hate crime statistics. Surprisingly, though, some of these ‘five strands’ receive more protection from the law than others. For example, the aggravated offences provision within the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 currently covers race and faith groups, but not those relating to disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Similarly, in the case of the incitement to hatred legislation, race, faith and sexual orientation groups are included, but not disability or gender identity.

So how has this rather odd situation come about? Well, the explanation is, in some ways, quite simple: there is no single all-encompassing ‘Hate Crime Act’ that covers different types of offences and all identity groups, but instead there exists a number of different pieces of legislation that have been drawn up over time which have, gradually, included one group after another in a rather piecemeal fashion. This has resulted in the disparities of provision that the Law Commission was asked to investigate.

Under a degree of expectation, the Law Commission therefore published the findings from its extensive investigations at the end of May. The Commission concluded, perhaps rather disappointingly, that a further, Government-sponsored review into a wider set of questions surrounding the aggravated provisions was necessary. It also, rather frustratingly for some disability campaigning groups such as the Disability Hate Crime Network, declined to recommend that the incitement legislation be broadened to include the strands of gender identity and disability. The Commission’s reasoning for this was that it had not been persuaded of the ‘practical need to do so’, that prosecutions might in any case be rare and that new incitement legislation might ‘inhibit discussion of disability and transgender issues’.

This verdict means that disabled and transgender communities still find themselves ‘out in the cold’ regarding the incitement laws. It also means that some groups appear to be accorded a more ‘privileged’ position than others within the five strands, which is an unfortunate outcome of the Commission’s work. Although the justification provided by the Commission for declining to make this recommendation  has some logic, it does seem a shame that it failed take the opportunity, in the words of the Disability Hate Crime Network, to extend the law’s coverage to ‘capture a unique, specific and grave type of wrong’.

 

 

 

 


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