Bernard Dineen: Inside the crazy world of equality-mongering

ANOTHER bumper week for the equality industry. Schools have been told that they may be breaking the law if they make girls wear skirts because it discriminates against transsexuals.

The equality quango tells them: "Pupils born female with gender dysphoria experience great discomfort being forced to wear stereotypical girls' clothes – for example, a skirt."

This nonsense comes in a 68-page report, produced with your money as a taxpayer, under the snappy title Provision of Goods, Facilities and Services to Trans People: Guidance to Public Authorities.

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If you wonder how grown men and women can spend their time producing this garbage, remember that if you are paid a fat salary by a 70m quango to find problems, you will find them, even if it means inventing them.

Apparently, the pupils must not wear "gender-specific uniforms" which presumably means that they must wear dungarees. It sounds like something out of Orwell's 1984.

Here is another glimpse of the crazy world of equality-mongering. A serial litigant has earned thousands of pounds by bombarding employers with claims of ageism because they used the words "school leaver" or "recent graduate" in job advertisements.

He initiated actions against 60 firms over three years (even though he does not actually apply for jobs) by using the Government's tribunal service. He tells the firms that they can avoid an employment tribunal only by making him a "settlement" payment of up

to 3,500.

The claims are routinely struck out by tribunal chairmen, but businesses can be left with legal bills of about 9,000 because he ignores orders to pay costs. The bill can be crippling for small firms.

Probably the most damaging of the equality lunacies is the law forbidding firms from asking job applicants whether they will have any difficulty in doing the job because of family commitments. One example is a woman being appointed and only then revealing that she is pregnant and will be off for a year.

One of our biggest law firms is in trouble after a leaked email revealed that a senior partner had asked a colleague: "This lady has recently had a child. Are there any guidelines on how we can ask questions designed to identify her commitment, the hours she is prepared to do, and how she will balance work and child?"

Instead of being commended for his good sense, the partner was investigated for discrimination, warned about his conduct and sent on a training course. There he will be instructed in such problems as: "If you have a temporary job to offer, and a woman applies who is pregnant and due to give birth the day the job starts, is it legal or illegal not to employ her on those grounds?"

In the end, it will rebound on women. Some employers already make it a practice not to employ women of child-bearing age in crucial jobs. I don't blame them.

THE weirdest aspect of the bullying row is the identity of Gordon Brown's defenders. Lord Mandelson raises his hands in fastidious horror at such nasty practices as smear and spin. He says he can "detect an odour". Well, no one is better qualified.

Just as hilarious is the sight of the Schools Secretary Ed Balls condemning bullying. Here is what the respected veteran Labour MP Barry Sheerman said about him: "Most of us know that Ed Balls is a bit of a bully and likes his own way." He treats all-party Commons committees with contempt.

Margaret Morrissey, founder of the campaign group for parents, said: "I have told him he's a bully. During the SATs fiasco, he used bullying tactics and blamed other people. I have worked with education secretaries since 1981 and I have never previously come across someone with Ed Balls's style. He puts his career first and is not going to let education stand in his way."

Balls was a pal of Damian McBride, the Downing Street spin doctor who had to resign in disgrace when a

leaked email revealed some of his murky tricks. It would be interesting to know if, at one of their regular lunches, McBride ever mentioned his plans to smear not only Tory politicians but their wives. I think we should be told.

IF you believed the BBC, there is no immigration problem. Programme after programme over the years has suggested that it is all a fuss about nothing, and only Right-wing bigots could suggest otherwise.

They were at it again last week. In a programme entitled The Day the Immigrants Left, Evan Davis went to Wisbech and found that immigration had been a boon, had not affected local workers and had not put pressure on services. He chose an agricultural

area with low-paid workers and he showed only immigrants from Eastern Europe, who were taking jobs the locals did not want.

No wonder the BBC website is said to have been swamped by viewers protesting at this one-sided nonsense. There are plenty of places in Britain he could have chosen to give an accurate picture but this was clearly a stitch-up.

Figures last week showed that 203,000 newcomers were handed UK passports during 2009, a rise of 58 per cent on the previous year. The figure has increased by more than five times since Labour came to power.

So much for Gordon Brown's promise of "British jobs for British workers".