The Guardian reports today that Nick Clegg has put his foot down to stop the Tories from proceeding any further with the daft recommendations in the report by a venture capitalist, Adam Beecroft. The Beecroft plan would have made it very easy for employer to fire people they decided were underperforming.
Now, frankly, if any of our lot had touched these ideas with a ten foot bargepole, my howls of rage would have been audible from the International Space Station. Beecroft's ideas are just a charter for employers to abuse their staff, manage by intimidation and fear and make life very unpleasant for everyone. I don't, therefore, deliver any special praise to Nick for stopping this. It's the very least I would expect from the leader of a party which wants to protect ordinary people from the abuse of power.
It is indicative, though, of how the Tories think. They would clearly have been quite happy to implement some version of Beecroft's ideas. Their mindset is focused on making the rich richer rather than seeing thing from the ordinary person's point of view. If they had their way, we'd have unlimited working hours, no sick pay and a treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen culture which would be horrendous. And guess who would be the first to be fired - people with family and caring responsibilities, who are more likely to be women.
We don't see things like that - we value people, we want to nurture them and we recognise that they don't work in a vacuum. There are times when even their best won't be good enough if they have a difficult situation at home. . If there are issues with performance, we think that a bit of effort and understanding on the part of the employer should be able to turn things around. If that doesn't work, then it is already easy enough to fire someone.
What this episode shows is what the Tories governing alone would be like. Who would stop them not just salivating at the thought of people being fired at will but actually making it happen? Nobody. We'd be sat on the opposition benches powerless to do anything about it. If we hadn't gone into full coalition with the intention of staying there for the full five years, the Tories would have held another election in October and would have had a majority on their own. It might have been a small one - in which case the Tory right, like Nadine Dorries, Peter Bone and Julian Lewis would be key influencers on Government policy. Frankly, I'd much rather our lot were in there to moderate the Tories, and I suspect most people in this country feel the same way.
We've already influenced NHS and welfare reforms, stopped the Tories from abolishing the Human Rights Act, made sure that tax cuts went to the lowest paid and not rich, dead people, stopped the Tories wasting a fortune on a tax break for married couples and introduced a pupil premium. Pension increases and restoring the pensions/earnings link are Liberal Democrat, not Tory ideas.
Yes, it's not perfect - and on employment rights, I'm not at all impressed that the time limit before people have recourse to an employment tribunal is being doubled - but we are doing a lot of good. We really need to stand tall and be proud of those achievements.