Daily Archives: 8 March 2007

You Dawk!

For a man who is clearly extremely intelligent, Richard Dawkins can be a fucking idiot at times.

The worst thing about all this is, it has the appearance that the only reason Dawkins is saying this is because he is suffering from an irrational sense of rivalry stemming from this literary prize.

At least his wife probably supports him. I’m sure Romana would feel the same way as her former companion about the Abzorbaloff.

UPDATE: Richard Dawkins has issued a mea culpa in the Guardian, albeit making it clear that he was set up. It’s fair enough, but I still think it is an over-reaction to what is a fairly innocuous sentiment, regardless of who actually said it.

Cameron ditches green policies

(hat tip: Liberal Review)

The Tory confusion about the environment deepens. The problem is, they now love the environment but hate one of the best tools we have for protecting it: the EU. Out of desperation, they have thrown themselves into the arms of a party that is deeply opposed to climate change policies:

In an interview with the Czech newspaper Hospodarske noviny on February 12, Mr Klaus said: “Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so.”

He added: “Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate.” Scientists who said global warming was happening were “politicised”, he said.

Meanwhile of course, the environmentalists they have embraced say similarly batty things about the EU. Take tin foil hat salesman Zac Goldsmith, who mixes environmentalism, cigar smoking and gambling with wanting to smash the whole thing up into little pieces and leave the rest of the world entirely dependent on the US for leadership.

All in all, it looks as if Cameron’s support for green issues is only limited to the UK’s own borders. If only climate change respected borders in the same way.

The limits of collective bargaining

No-one can deny that collective bargaining has brought ordinary people very real rights that they could never have acquired through other means. Every employee in the country has a lot to be grateful to the Labour Movement.

But there comes a point where the disadvantages of the hive mind approach starts to outweigh the advantages. Arguably, that point was reached in the 1970s when the Unions began to behave as if they could order governments around, whether Labour or Conservative, which inevitably resulted in a backlash and thus their nemesis, the very much undead alive Mrs T.

I would argue that another example of its limitations is going on right now. For the last ten years, local authorities have been obliged to pay female workers on the same rates as male workers. Yet, fearful of job cuts, trade unions have been negotiating pay deals which undermine affected women workers, to the point that they have been frequently shown to be illegal.

In this case, collective bargaining has meant that unions have compromised womens’ rights, many of whom were never even consulted. Now, you might argue that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but the law’s the law, and the union-brokered deals have relied on these women, some of the most vulnerable in society, being ignorant of their rights.

Women have had no recourse but to get solicitors to fight their corner, and there are plenty of solicitors willing to take these cases on on a no-win no-fee basis (not least of all because they have pretty cast iron cases).

This is, in fact, a classic example of capitalism working to empower and protect people’s rights. A cause for celebration? Well, according to trade unionists, the lawyers who are helping these women are, to quote Chris Mullin, “parasites”. This view was echoed by Phil Woolas on the Today programme on Tuesday. That vanguard of socialism Nick Cohen says much the same thing.

Some of us happen to think that rights are indivisible; if there is a genuine tension as in this case, then local authorities should consult with the whole workforce, not leave it to their buddies in the unions to stitch it up for them. If Labour truly believe that women’s rights can be negotiated away by (predominently male) trade unionists, they should simply put their money where their mouths are and scrap the Equal Opportunities Act. After all, we know they only consider their much vaunted all women shortlists a priority if one of Gordon Brown’s pals doesn’t want the seat.

The most grimly ironic thing about all this though is that it was Labour who introduced pro bono in the UK as a first step to their dismantlement of legal aid. Overall, I’m sure they will be comforted in the knowledge that where trade union incompetence hasn’t left them so open to legal action, vulnerable people will have much less recourse now.