This week the Government announced it was making changes to the Trade Union Bill which had been deeply unpopular with Trade Unionists and led to a number of high profile protests and demonstrations. Several tabloid newspapers have suggested this is to win favour with the Trade Unions over their campaigning for us to remain in the EU. That is clearly nonsense although never let facts get in the way of a good story. The Trade Unions are certainly not of one voice on the EU but it is widely recognised that the reason why the left has become more supportive of the EU over the last 30 years is because of the emergence of the social chapter and other EU policies that have sought to ensure that our workers are not exploited. This focus on workers rights has been in part as a result of efforts of Labour and Green MEPs articulating the case for such reforms over the last 3 decades while our eurosceptic and Conservative MEPs have resisted such changes. On that basis the Union position on the EU is not easily influenced by domestic politics.
Another change that has been announced this week is to suspend development on the Governments anti-advocacy rule for charities which was a poisonous proposal by Mike Hancock MP who is the Cabinet Office Minister. My friend Andy Winter has written about this in his blog in the last few hours. Mike Hancock has over a number of years received £22,000 from a donor called Neil Record, a man who has donated a total of £330,000 to the Conservative party. Fuller details can be found here. Records most recent donation was in November when he gave Hancock £4,000. Record has been the Chairman of the Institute of Economic Affairs thinktank for just over a year, the IEA published a document called the Sock Doctrine in February 2014 which complains that charities that are funded by the state should not then be allowed to speak up about public policy matters. When Hancock announced his policy in February 2016 he used some of the phrases from the doctrine which was written by Christopher Snowden and entirely misses the point that it is responsible to work on behalf of an agency, which one also seeks to change and challenge. Most responsible employees do this all the time, those that keep their counsel to themselves are actually the ones who can create problems as the opportunity to improve the system based on their insight is lost. However Snowden like his boss at the IEA Mark Littlewood appears to believe that only they and other non publicly funded charitable think tanks should speak up on matters of public policy, something which they do at every available opportunity. The fact that they refuse to divulge the source of their own funding must add to the question regarding who the IEA speak up for?
A third area where the current Government policy seems bound to do a U turn is on the enforced academisation of our Schools. As I wrote yesterday, the Government has already made concessions to certain faith schools, and it seems inconceivable that they will get the bill through without major changes, as their own back benchers are deeply opposed to the idea of a Conservative Government forcing this sort of change on democratically elected Conservative Councils.
So we have a Government in chaos, with more U turns than a car on a skid pan. Why is this. My assumption is that during the coalition, because they knew that they would need to satisfy their Lib Dem partners, that they spent time and effort behind closed doors to correct the stupidity of their own thinking. Without the Lib Dems to slow them down, the stupidity is getting corrected in public. Its only a matter of time before they realise that they need to relearn the ways in which all previous Governments have found to ensure that by the time they speak up, they have already tested their ideas for the more ridiculous elements. On the other hand perhaps the train is about to come off the tracks?