‘Politics of envy’ : why I certainly am not jealous of Michael Fallon

Looking exclusively at promoting big business investment at the expense of equality on any level is an incredibly dangerous sign for women...
Olivia Singer
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Looking exclusively at promoting big business investment at the expense of equality on any level is an incredibly dangerous sign for women...

This week I’ve been constantly examining economic legislative amendments in between reapplying lipstick - my interests oscillate wildly between one and the other.

The past few weeks have been politically disastrous for feminism, with Cameron all set to break his pre-election promise to appoint a third of his first government's jobs to women before the end of his first term, hilariously compromising any (already hilarious) ideas that he was in any way politically progressive - as wonderfully illustrated by Rebecca.

If you thought it stopped there, you’d be wrong. New Conservative Business Minister Michael Fallon has come out with some cracking new ideas to promote big business this week, while snappily calling to an end to the ‘politics of envy’ in this country.

He has pledged to scrap or change 3000 health and safety regulations by April 2013, which sounds like a nice headline until you remember that, according to the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, there are only 200 health and safety regulations at the moment in the UK.  

According to Fallon this is just a case of cutting red tape that does not ‘serve public interests,’ but it smacks to me of another legislative adjustments which will slightly cut costs for businesses at the significant expense of the people who are employed - quite literally putting health at risk.

As Adam Marshall, chairman of the British Chambers of Commerce points out, ‘it is not going to be the silver bullet that delivers growth’- it just seems to be a bizarre diversionary tactic with potentially devastating consequences for employees.

The issues of recession do not lie in regulatory employment framework, but in the insane tax breaks and exemptions offered to Cameron’s business pals and the insufficient regulations around banking etiquette.

However, do not fear - you might not be employed unsafely for long. No, they aren’t suggesting alternative means of regulating healthy and safety, Fallon merely suggests that new plans will deal with the ‘burdensome’ and ‘expensive’ problem of getting rid of unwanted staff, without the need for an employment tribunal.

So far Fallon’s boss Vince Cable still is maintaining his opposition to ‘fire at will’ laws, however, his promises have been proven to be worth even less than an HMV giftcard these days.

Dismissal without proper cause or procedure is something that is obviously devastating in a recession and all too soon it could be a frequent reality.  


I have even blue-toned today’s photobooth to show just how sad I am

While the proposals made this week sit desperately uncomfortably with me and remind me of a Thatcher-era Conservatism that does nothing for anyone other than rich, white men in suits (alternatively known as the Cabinet), I really take offence to Fallon's suggestion that I resent these ideas out of ‘envy’ rather than an interest in promoting equality.

When the 2012 budget was announced, eight out of ten jobs lost in the last quarter had come from women. Single mothers saw cuts to their average income equivalent to a month’s income each year.

An incredible 70% of the money saved through changes to the tax and welfare system alone have come from women’s pockets. Women have been disproportionately hit by public sector job losses. Budget slashes of 31% have forced domestic violence refuges to turn desperate women away.

This recession is devastating the lives of women around the country, statistically hitting us harder than men. This is not to say that the men don’t matter, fuck our husbands, brothers, fathers, friends, but it is important to recognise that Conservative economics currently do not promote gender equality.

Looking exclusively at promoting big business investment at the expense of equality on any level - be that through unfair dismissal or health and safety this week, or the numerous anti-feminist legislative changes this year - is an incredibly dangerous sign for women.


People I am not jealous of : Michael Fallon

And if you object to these measures? Then, according to Fallon you’re engaging in the 'politics of envy’ against those who ‘create wealth.’

It is patronising for Fallon to assume that I deem his propositions disgraceful out of envy, because I am too poor to benefit from bonuses afforded to big business. I object to his amendments on principle, because I believe that during a recession is when we ought care most for those struggling rather than kick them whilst they’re down.

I also have an educated mistrust of his suggestion that his is the only way to get ourselves out of said recession.

This is not the only way. We do not have to trample on half of the population, on the equity of employment legislation or on our freedom in order to promote a flailing economy. There are myriad ways to replenish and revitalise the financial systems, and tearing assistance from the hands of minorities and the oppressed need not be one of them.

I am not envious in the slightest of Fallon and his ilk, because it is his ignorance and naiveté that I fight against. I am not jealous of those who are prepared to sacrifice equality in favour of a bit of Tory spin that suggests economic vitality in our future.

I do not resent benefit cuts for single mothers selfishly, because I am not one - I resent them in a year that permits illegal tax avoidance by the world’s largest companies purely because it is not right. It is not fair. It is not okay.

How do you feel about this week’s political news? Do you vehemently disagree with me? Do you think Fallon is a babe? Share with me!