Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Momentary Lapse of Incompetence

Robert Mugabe
Mad, bad and dangerous to know
It should not be forgotten amongst the myriad tales of govenment woes that even the most abysmal of governments do on occasion, even if it is by accident, the right thing.

It's only fair to say that on a couple of issues in the last week or two Brown's miserable administration have been on the angels. The score might be about 10-2 but the consolation goals deserve a limited respect.

First of all, as already highlighted by the Thunder Dragon, the government has stood firm in its stance over attending the EU-Africa summit because of the presence of the thoroughly evil Robert Mugabe. As I've often posted here I have nothing but contempt for those who attempt to deny any form of platform to those the spongiform minds of those afflicted by tertiary leftism try to dictate should be silenced simply for their wrongthink. There is a huge difference between evil thoughts and evil deeds though, and one that places Mugabe in a different league to the Griffins and Irvings of this world. As appalling as these people are they do not even advocate violence, let alone practice it as Mugabe does through a thousand proxies. It is actually quite worrying that there are people who see some sort of moral equivalence between the cases.

As for the alleged controversy over Clare Short's comments on the reasons why Baroness Amos was chosen to be sent to the summit, I'm loathed to intrude into what seems to be purely Labour party private grief. I would differ slightly from the Thunder Dragon's view on her attendance in principle. As far as I can see Baroness Amos seems perfectly well qualified to act in this capacity and it would have been reckless in the extreme to leave the UK completely unrepresented and leave everything to the sometimes suspect judgement of some of our partners.

The other thing the government deserves some praise for which, while a little faint, is not intended to be damning is it's resistance this week to the EU's continued attempts to impose a mindless working monoculture on us all, this time by demanding that the full panoply of supposed workers 'rights' on temporary agency workers virtually from their first week on any given assignment.

In the whole range of employment related directives dreamed up by feather bedded bureaucrats in Brussels, there seems to be little or no understanding that there are a significant number of people who choose of their own free volition to adopt work patterns very different to their own. Yes, there is exploitation at times that needs to be tackled, but in the mindless drafting of broad directives Brussels machinery only achieves new rights for this group at the cost of stripping rights from another.

For the first few years of my working life I worked some ridiculous hours, and rarely took more than a handful of days off in the course of a year. I was not compelled to do so, but I was well rewarded for it. Every day of holiday not taken was repaid at time and half at the end of the year. I worked the hours to best exploit the performance related pay schemes that were in place, and my efforts my employer, my clients and myself were all very happy. Now already the first practice, of paying for untaken holiday, is outlawed by the EU, and they desparately want to end my right to opt out over their legislation on the latter.

It's not a way of life everyone would choose, but I liked it. We don't all, over the entire course of our working lives want the same couple of weeks off in the summer, a week at Christmas, and so on and so forth. When I've worked in FSA regulated businesses and been forced to take a week off at a time when I had no real yearning to go on holiday, I resented it badly. My prefered way of life was to take a few months off at a time either between jobs or on occasion with the willing blessing of my employers. I've made good use of these kinds of sabatical to enhance my life in ways that a fortnight in Ibiza never would.

It wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but it was mine, and the thrust of the EU employment legislation is already half way through stripping me of my rights to persue my working life and career in the way that makes me most happy. Where are my rights? Removed to make us all fit the views of some civil servants, doubtlessly with precious little exposure to the real world, of what the ideal working life is like.

The same arguments hold against the plans over agency working. I'm sure there are agency workers who are treated badly and if so there may need to be some narrow, targeted legislation. Narrow and targeted is not the the Brussels way though, their legislative arsenal is filled only with various forms of blunderbuss. I've done temporary and agency work at various times, always for very positive reasons. The lack of security or supposed rights was well compensated for in the financial rewards, and both those companies which employed my services and myself were happy with the flexibility the arrangements afforded us.

At another end of the scale even this government understands the simple message that is lost on the befuddled minds of the EU that what they call 'rights' becomes translated to 'responsibilities' for an employer and the more responsibilities they seek to heap on the shoulders of the employers, the less inclined they will be to take the risk that such responsibilities represent to the business. Also they realise the vital role that such temporary work can play in getting the unemployed back to work, the old corporatist EU sees only one model of employment, and in their discomfort over more progressive models would rather see work as being an 'all or nothing' situation, not an 'all or something' choice.

It is faint praise for the government in that they have already allowed much of the damage in the area of employment law to be done, but the fact that they are prepared to fight for some last vestige of free bargaining between employer and employee to remain should be accorded some respect.

OK, even adding these two issues together is not anywhere close to balancing any single one of Labour's manifestly poor acts of government, but it's something.

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