Prejudiced Court Judgement

March 2024 Forums General discussion Prejudiced Court Judgement

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  • #80989
    ALB
    Keymaster

    In December 2009 an Employment Tribunal presided over by a Judge heard a case of 4 employees of UNISON who were members of Militant and who had been sacked for their political views. The four sued UNISON for a breach of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 as amended which states that an employer can’t sack someone just for their beliefs (or rather can but, if they do, will have to pay compensation).

    In its 57-page judgement the Tribunal held that it was not competant to judge the case as “Marxism/Trotskyism”  was a “repugnant” political belief that was not “compatible with human dignity” and therefore not protected by the Regulations.

    We might agree with the Tribunal’s characterisation of Trotskyism but paragraph 131 might equally be applied against us:

    Quote:
    The detail of the evidence of the views of the Claimants, even if expressed in circumlocution, included such matters as the deprivation of home and property from the individual, who then is allocated residence and sustenance by the dictate of government. Freedom of choice and of procuring reward for endeavour are not afforded to the individual under the system of government proposed by the Claimants. Mr Page proposed that the human right to home and property was subject to margin of appreciation and could be derogated from according to requirements in each state. The flaw in this argument is that the deprivation of property and of reward for endeavour by the state is ruled, authoritarian, total and fundamental, rather than flexible or proportionate to any exigency or circumstances affecting a particular individual. While such deprivations of property in the widest sense may be consistently applied throughout the population, its absolute expression as proposed by the Claimants is not in our judgment as an industrial jury, on an objective basis, compatible with human dignity.

    Militant does of course stand for state capitalism but I don’t think it is true that they want to nationalise all existing private homes or deprive people of being able “procure reward for endeavour” (after all, they stand for the continuation of the wages system).

    But by “property” the Tribunal did not mean just “homes” but any property, ie also stock and shares. Which of course we want to “deprive” the rich of (and their mansions too) even if for the benefit of the community rather than the State. And by “reward for endeavour” they don’t just mean getting paid more if you’re more skilled or work longer but “private enterprise” which of course we’re against too.

    So we could expect a prejudiced judge to label real socialism “repugnant” too but then we wouldn’t expect judges to be other than in favour of capitalism. If, faced with a socialist majority in control of parliament, the UK Supreme Court tried this surely it would be its last judgement, wouldn’t it?

    #87204
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I don’t understand how any court can rule that an entirely legal and legtimate view point can be described officially as ‘repugnant’, particularly when courts and judges are also bound by equality laws. Would they descirbe Muslims as repugnant? Or Jews? Perhaps there will be a further case bought against the judge who is and of himself acting in a discriminatory fashion….

    #87205
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    From the preamble of the aforesaid judgement:-

    Quote:
    The employment tribunal in this case examines the meaning of “philosophical belief” and concludes that it does not include “political beliefs”, on the basis that the Regulations do not protect all political beliefs and opinions. Alternatively, the particular political beliefs of the claimants, which are based on Marxism/Trotskyism and the Socialist Party, of which they were members and supporters, did not fall within the definition either.

    So no confusion there either………….

    #87206
    ALB
    Keymaster
    SussexSocialist wrote:
    I don’t understand how any court can rule that an entirely legal and legtimate view point can be described officially as ‘repugnant’,

    Unfortunately, the “principle” of “repugnancy” is now well incorporated into English legislation and jurispridence. The Tribunal decided that it was “able to apply a narrow construction to the regulations to take account of accepted mores of society such as repugnance” and went on to rule that any employer can sack with impunity anybody whose views “society” considers “repugnant”.This all goes back to the bigoted Catholic judge Lord Devlin who introduced this concept. Here’s how his wikipedia entry describes his approach:

    Quote:
    After the Wolfenden report in 1957, Devlin argued in support of James Fitzjames Stephen that popular morality should be allowed to influence lawmaking, and that even private acts should be subject to legal sanction if they were held to be morally unacceptable by the “reasonable man”, in order to preserve the moral fabric of society (Devlin’s “reasonable man” was one who held commonly accepted views, not necessarily derived from reason as such). H. L. A. Hart supported the report’s opposing view (derived from John Stuart Mill) that the law had no business interfering with private acts that harmed nobody. Devlin’s argument was expanded in his 1965 book The Enforcement of Morals. As a result of his famous debate with Devlin on the role of the criminal law in enforcing moral norms, Hart wrote Law, Liberty and Morality (1963) and The Morality of the Criminal Law (1965).Devlin argued that a society’s existence depends on the maintenance of shared political and moral values. Violation of the shared morality loosens one of the bonds that hold a society together, and thereby threatens it with disintegration. Devlin proposed a public morality that, in certain situations, would override matters of personal or private judgment.He argued that because an attack on “society’s constitutive morality” would threaten society with disintegration, such acts could not be free from public scrutiny and sanction on the basis that they were purely private acts. In Devlin’s view, homosexual acts were a threat to society’s morality. In short, he maintained that legal intervention was essential to ensure both individual and collective survival, and to prevent social disintegration due to a loss of social cohesion.Devlin believed that “the limits of tolerance” are reached when the feelings of the ordinary person towards a particular form of conduct reaches a certain intensity of “intolerance, indignation and disgust”. If, for example, it is the genuine feeling of society that homosexuality is “a vice so abominable that its mere presence is an offence”, then society may eradicate it.

    Fortunately he was opposed by other Establishment figures and he didn’t get his way on this particular point. But the concept that people’s ideas and behaviour can be discriminated against on the grounds of being “repugnant” to “society” did get through. It is something that the Christian Right could build on if ever they were to gain more than the marginal influence they now have.In this respect the Christian People’s Alliance is politically active in Kingston in South West London where they contest local by-elections and the general election. No doubt we’ll come up against them in  the Greater London Assembly elections next year. They are even part of the Kingston Anti Cuts Group and supported the 30 November public service strike. In a recent local by-election in Kingston they got 7% of the vote. On the other side of London, in Newham, they’ve got three councillors.So, we do have to deal with them and their arguments.

    #87207
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I still think that describing view held thus is in breach of wider European anti-discriminatory laws and seeing as in previous cases, prevailant Euro law seems to override national laws, perhaps this will be challenged soon?

    #87208
    PaulB
    Participant

    I’ve got a copy of a 2008 volume Law at Work, produced by the Labour Research Department. According to that, the 2003 regulations cover discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, where the definition is ‘any religion, religious belief, or similar philosophical belief’. I take it that political views aren’t covered by this, as they would not count as ‘similar’. But in Northern Ireland discrimination on grounds of political belief is also outlawed.The law may have changed since 2008, I suppose.

    #87209
    ALB
    Keymaster
    PaulB wrote:
    I’ve got a copy of a 2008 volume Law at Work, produced by the Labour Research Department. According to that, the 2003 regulations cover discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, where the definition is ‘any religion, religious belief, or similar philosophical belief’. I take it that political views aren’t covered by this, as they would not count as ‘similar’.

    That seems precisely to have been the issue: to what extent can a political view be regarded as a “philosophical belief”. It all seems to have started from the case of a man called Nicholson who had a bee in his bonnet about climate change. That the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere has largely been caused by human activity is a fact rather than a belief, but the Tribunal got round this by arguing that the “moral” conclusion that Nicholson derived from this (that he should do everything he could to reduce his and everybody else’s “carbon footprint”) was and so he won his case.Compensation culture lawyers then rushed in and ever since Employment Tribunals have been trying to close the opening. Another rejected case is that of a 9/11 Truther who lost. He was more fortunate than the Trotskyists as his views were denounced only as “absurd” rather than “repugnant”.I don’t think we would want our views to be described as a “philosophical belief” similar to religion, would we (except perhaps to win a court case)? Surely, our case is based on scientific facts not belief.

    #87210

    I think we are in a different position.1) Our members were able to avoid conscription by arguing a conscientious objection to war.  This is a strong legal precedent.2) Our commitment to democracy obviates a lot of the tribunals objections.  Even their misuse of the word revolution can be met with the example of William Hague’s “Conservative Revolution” slogan to sow that our views are compatable with a democratic society.3) As Adam says, we’re not out to take anyone’s home, or prperty, our position is we will dismantle /render useless the system of property in the first isntance.  We have no intentuion of having private property of the state ‘allocated’ to people by the state. In fact, in many ways, this ruling vindicates us. Bill M.

    #87211
    zundap
    Participant

    We hold that the natural and industrial resources of the planet are the common heritage of all humans, anything that contradicts this is “repugnant”.

    #87212
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Contrast this judgment with one that's just been handed down:http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2014/01/17/belief-in-democratic-socialism-could-be-protected-by-equality-laws.aspxSo, if you are Labour Party you're protected but not if you're a Trotskyist. I hold no brief for the trots (obviously not) but these decisions are more political than judicial.

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