We have an old saying in Lancashire: ‘trouble at’ mill’. There’s been an awful lot of trouble at the mill that is the Equality and Human Rights Commission as of late. I’ve been holding off posting a story to see how things pan out with this and it does seem to have died away after a week and it didn’t really feature in the Sunday’s. That said, I have a feeling this story will be back and I’d be very surprised to see Trevor Phillips in his post this time next year. Shami Chakrabarti apparently failed to get the post first time round and I’m sure there will be a growing mood to plonk her in the job as soon as seems dignified.
Whoever gets the role, I have doubts about whether it is a deliverable agenda. I caught a bit of Radio 4’s religious output on Sunday morning (by accident, whilst in the bathroom) and they actually had a thoughtful debate about the compatibility of religious freedom verses sexuality. On the one hand, the one equality body is more resource efficient (so I don’t see a Conservative government reversing things) and pulls a string of different groups together under the ‘equality banner’ (so very New Labour – their not going to reverse their decision). On the other, it is trying to represent competing agendas at the same time. Kind of like that elderly relative that keeps knitting old style jumpers – she means well but you’d just rather go and buy your own. The EHRC undoubtedly means well but it’s just not as effective as it could be.
When I met a rep of the EHRC last year, he was pretty up front about the fairy chaotic state of things at the EHRC. You would hope things would have settled down since then but they don’t seem to have. If that forces a radical re-think of this group, it might just be a good thing.