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In what amounts to a less than subtle clue to the way in which politicians and the media have been constructing the public 'debate' on migration, Labour's new manifesto has a large section entitled: "Crime and Immigration".
As if the two somehow belong together by default.
About a third of schools have a religious character, educating millions of children and employing thousands of teachers and support staff. Most faith schools are able to decide their own religious admissions criteria, hire staff according to their religion and determine their own syllabus for Religious Education. Because of all of this, any major schools reform will be profoundly shaped by the role of faith schools, whether or not politicians like to admit it.
In his big speech in March on “crime and anti-social behaviour” Gordon Brown made not so much as a hint at anything in the restorative justice field. We pointed this out, and suggested he was missing a trick.
The new Labour manifesto however promises a Restorative Justice Act:
Coinciding with the demonstration outside Conservative HQ this afternoon, George Osborne has announced new plans to tackle homophobic bullying in faith schools.
In summary they are:
• Freeing heads to exclude homophobic bullies
• Giving teachers the power to stop violent homophobic incidents (“Teachers are often unable to break up violent homophobic bullying because of the lack of clarity over use of force”)
• New guidance on bullying aggravated by prejudice (“non-violent bullying aggravated by prejudice like homophobia should result in tougher punishments than other forms of persistently disruptive behaviour...we believe that all forms of violent bullying should continue to lead to some form of exclusion”)
• Recording incidents of homophobic abuse
The first week of the Conservative Party's election campaign has reminded me of the series of books entitled Where's Wally?, in which readers are challenged to search for a glimpse of an individual who has been made almost invisible. Since the Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, was recorded attacking the rights of same-sex couples, the Tories have kept him in the background, despite his senior position in their party.
A few weeks ago I argued on BBC1’s Big Questions for a ‘maximum wage’ – a link between the lowest paid workers and the highest paid, to tackle inequality. The idea has been proposed by the New Economics Foundation.
Writing in today’s Guardian David Cameron seems to be advocating it for the public sector:
The row over the proposed National Insurance increase has continued today, which some are interpreting as small change. It is true that £6 billion isn’t very much compared to the overall annual Government budget of hundreds of billions.
What has become lost in the row - and is symptomatic of a much wider problem with many election issues - is that this is about people’s lives. To put things in a different perspective, £6 billion is also what it costs to employ 300,000 people a year on £20,000.