Large-scale redundancy consultation period to be halved, says Swinson

Liberal Democrat Employment Minister Jo Swinson has announced that the formal consultation period employers must carry out by law when making more than 100 employees redundant will, from April, be cut from 90 days to 45 days.

According to this  BBC report, a consultation showed “strong support” for the changes. I can only imagine this must have been amongst employers because, frankly, it would take a special employee to favour doing themselves out of six and a half weeks’ pay.

It is worth pointing out, though, that people who work for very small employers have the right to individual consultation, but there’s no time limit on that. Theoretically, their employer could consult them one week and issue the Notice of Redundancy the next. If your employer is making 20 people or more redundant, then  they have to have a more formal consultation but that only has to be 30 days. I’m not sure why you should get such a disproportionately greater period of notice just because you work for a large corporation than the local accountant. Of course, it would have been better to see the consultation period for the smaller companies rise, but in this economic environment, I guess we have to be realistic. I’m also not convinced that you necessarily need the full 90 days to build a strong campaign against the redundancies. In this day and age, it can take off pretty quickly.

While any erosion of employment rights makes many Liberal Democrats, including me,  uncomfortable, it’s clear from the Beecroft Report that the Tories would just get rid of employment rights entirely  if they thought they could get away with it. Under the measures announced today, the amount of redundancy pay people get is unaffected and they still have a right to be genuinely consulted. In the scheme of things, the farcical new employment-rights-for-shares-you-have-to-give-back-if-you-leave measures and the increase in the qualifying period for Employment Tribunals from one to two years concern me more.

It would be fair to say that Liberal Democrats have ensured that many basic employment rights and grounds for unfair dismissal have been preserved. It’s in that context that the measure announced today should be judged.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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52 Comments

  • Carol, the tories need the backing of Lib Dems to get rid of employments rights whether its in its entirety or in the instance just the consultation period.

    It’s just another kick in the teeth for workers already under a ridiculous amount of pressue and uncertainty and the likes of Jo Swinson needs to put down her tory book if reasoning and start helping workers rather than attacking them.

    Just one final thing, why is it the LDP policy to limit the impact of tory policy by letting chunks of their dreadful policies through whereas they feel they can blow any LDP policies completley out of the water if they dont agree with it?

  • Oh. So workers should be grateful there rights aren’t going to be removed as much as they would if the Tories had a majority?

    Well I’m sure thinking about that hypothetical will help.

    This is a disgrace. And I’m surprised a Lib Dem has put there name to this policy.

    This is another stain on the hands of the Lib Dems, and it won’t wash off.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Dec '12 - 8:59pm

    This is not a good idea! Once again we are doing the Tories dirty work for them.

    Britain’s employees already suffer some of the worst employment rights in Europe. Time after time UK employees of multi-National companies are made redundant because, frankly, it is easier and cheaper to make us redundant than social charter-protected continental colleagues.

    As Carol indicates the reported “strong support” surely comes from employers rather than ordinary working voters.

    Does anyone in the political establishment really understand how important the existing 3 months additional pay and consultation period is to an ordinary working family about to face a very uncertain future?

    We may(?) have protected certain employment rights but the HEADLINE story (seen by millions of working voters) are of Vince Cable apparently announcing a Beecroft-esque cut in their terms and conditions. This was a major topic of conversation in my workplace today.

    The Tories block any serious political demonstration of us “all being in this together” e.g. closing tax loopholes, removing benefits from very wealthy pensioners etc … while we are SEEN to be adding costs to young students, use sub-Tory retoric regarding welfare reform and now lead the removal of rights from about to be sacked workers.

    Presentationally and morally, this is seriously inept.

  • Ed Shepherd 19th Dec '12 - 9:22pm

    This move is a disgrace. I am working at a company that recently went through the 90 day consultation period. Contrary to what Caron Lindsay says,, 90 days is not necessarily long enough to carry out a thorough consultation. We were still trying to get issues raised when the 90 day period expired. Our employer refuses to recognise unions. Therefore, we had to have “representatives” (often managers) who were meant to argue our case for us. They did not do a satisfactory job. Surely, being “realistic” in this economic climate means that workers need all the protection they can get. That’s my practical experience of being at the sharp end of a redundancy process. Those who support this measure or see it as “realistic” are welcome to tell me of their experiences in the frontlines of the recession.

  • I would be interested to know what contact with employment law and rights Jo had before becoming a Minister. I would have thought that here above many other ministerial posts, there should be a good deal of life experience. As others have said, not a good move at all, and would have been opposed by Lib Dems 10 years ago or more.

  • @Ed Shepherd, but what were the issues? Surely if they don’t want you any more but you want to keep working there then what is there to consult? Ultimately it is their decision, I don’t see that you have the tools to dissuade them from the economic decision they have already made.

    I tend to think that if I was in this position, rather than a long, uncertain consultation period it would be more useful to me to have a longer notice period in which I could start looking for a new job. It is unfortunate that we can’t pair these together with the present announcement – couldn’t we have cut consultation by two months and extended notice by 15 days to have some good news for workers too?

    Yes it’s true that UK workers are easier to fire en masse than those in some other countries so it could be the first choice, but the other side of that is that you are not taking on such a big committment when you hire workers or set up in the UK either, so that could make the UK first choice too. That’s why unemployment isn’t higher in the UK than those other countries.

  • Keith Browning 19th Dec '12 - 10:31pm

    As someone who went through the 90 day process, nearly five years ago, I have a couple of observations.

    About 100 staff – over 50% of our total workforce – all managers/sales people and support staff, were made redundant.

    At the end of the 90 days EVERY person on the redundancy list had sorted themselves into a new job or into early retirement.

    After 45 days , less than 10 people had found a new position – but after 75-80 days, I think almost all had done so.

    There is a logic to this, because the process of applying for jobs, interviews, references, etc took, on average, about two months (60 days). Reducing the figure to 45 days will make it impractical for the majority to gain fresh employment, without having to suffer a gap in their income.

    Of course, getting a new job is now much harder, than five years ago, making 45 days a ridiculous time in which to re-start a career with a new company.

  • Helen Tedcastle 19th Dec '12 - 10:49pm

    @Caron Lindsay: ” While any erosion of employment rights makes many Liberal Democrats, including me, uncomfortable, it’s clear from the Beecroft Report that the Tories would just get rid of employment rights entirely if they thought they could get away with it.”

    Quite. In a time of austerity, employers will be able to get rid of people more quickly. This is not something any Lib Dem Minister should be sanctioning.

    Of course, the Tories would go far further – that fact of life does not act as an understandable cover for this move – I thought we had principles too, or are Lib Dems like Jo Swinson so malleable and ‘realistic’ ( a cover word for Tory-style policy), that a shaving a few days off people’s entitlement will go unnoticed? Very poor.

  • It would be fair to say that Liberal Democrats have ensured that many basic employment rights and grounds for unfair dismissal have been preserved. It’s in that context that the measure announced today should be judged

    That sums up the state of the party quite neatly. Never mind whether its not policy, a daft idea or attacks vulnerable people, its gone along with on the basis that it could be worse, stands on a soapbox and argues for it.

    The Tories must just love it.

  • I don’t agree with the move but let’s not overstate its impact. The vast majority of people made redundant have a consultation period of only 30 days or none at all. Only a tiny minority currently get 90 days and they will still get 50% more time than everybody else.

  • Stephen Donnelly 19th Dec '12 - 11:07pm

    There seems to be some confusion amongst some posters. This changes relates to the consultation process i.e. before the first dismissal takes place. Most staff faced with redundancies want to get this period over as quickly as possible so that they know where they can stand and can either get on with their lives, or or look for an alternative.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Dec '12 - 11:20pm

    Tibbers

    Just one final thing, why is it the LDP policy to limit the impact of tory policy by letting chunks of their dreadful policies through whereas they feel they can blow any LDP policies completley out of the water if they dont agree with it?

    Perhaps that has something to do with there being 306 Tory MPs and 57 LibDem MPs.

  • Stephen, nominally, yes. But how often does it change anything? In practice the consultation period is just extra time to find a new job.

  • And without those 57 they can’t get anything through. About 18 months the Thick of It’s Facebook page posted, “Just once I’d like to see Nick Clegg strap on a pair and say ‘You know what Dave, if you want to do that, get a majority. Now go away’”

    Except they didn’t use the words “go away” :-)

  • “@Ed Shepherd, but what were the issues? Surely if they don’t want you any more but you want to keep working there then what is there to consult? Ultimately it is their decision, I don’t see that you have the tools to dissuade them from the economic decision they have already made.”

    The issues included staffing needs, cover for emergencies, payments for unsocial working hours, our offer to work shorter hours in order to preserve the jobs of fellow workers, restructuring of departments in order to save jobs, redeployment, proposals that we made for more efficient working practices, skills required for new jobs and methods of selecting workers who were to be made redundant. That was inter alia what there is to consult. Those were some of the tools that we used to dissuade them from making compulsory redundancies. Because of the haphazard unprofessional way in which consultation was carried out between directors and “representatives” who were often inadequate to the task (and understandably concerned to protect themselves), my employer had to back down from making compuslory redundancies. About two weeks after the expiry of the 90 day period, the employer announced that no compulsory redunancies would be made. It is rumoured that the poor quality of the consultation meant that the employer had been advised that they would lose heavily if redundant workers brought unfair dismissal claims. The employer has implemented some of the proposals that the employees had put forward. The employers are now engaged in a process of buttering-up us staff members, six months after they tried to get rid of most of us. They are engaged in a big PR exercise to try to win people round. As for people who found other jobs during the 90 days period, many of them have now found that the grass is no greener in other jobs and they are trying to get back into our workplace. Our consultation period was a terrrific example of the importance of what a difference employees can make when they co-operate and stand up for each other. It was a frightening period that brought out both the worst and the best in people. Our current employment protections owe much to the wisdom of the generations who fought two world wars and fought for a better society. Those statesmen and women knew what they were doing and why. The politicians of those times were vastly superior to those who now govern us.

  • The author of this piece fails to understand the difference between notice period which remains unaffected, and the pre-notice consultation period on redundancies.

    Nobody will lose pay because of these changes, indeed most will be entirely unaffected as they work in small companies which are required to have a consultation period of 30 days at present. These are minimum requirements which can be extended in any case.

  • It isn’t really complicated is it? It is a proposal to reduce working employment conditions. It makes life just that bit easier for employers. So this is another proposal to hit workers. It is hard to think of more incompetent politics which enables the Lib Dems to be justifiably labelled as Tories ‘cos that’s what we are aren’t we??!!

  • As someone who has experienced “industrial punch-ups” (a six-week strike, various walk-outs, work-to-rules and so on) I admire Ed Shepherd’s descripition of the reality of industrial relations. He is also spot-on in his judgement of politicians of yesteryear compared with those of today. My experience of industry from the 1960s onwards was incredible – a priviledge. As a young man I worked surrounded by men who had experienced the Great Depression years, as well as service in the Second World War – and a fair number from the First War. These men knew from their experiences that very few employers were ever going to voluntarily give their workers good pay, good working conditions, sick pay, paid holidays, fair treatment…….and so on. Such things had to be ‘fought’ for. And that is exactly what that generation did; and they obtained improvements for workers that would have been unthinkable to the previous generation. Now the rights obtained by that magnifiscent generation are being lost, and sadly lost without the electorate’s consent. If the old adage holds true, “what goes round, comes round”, then we are looking at a big Labour victory in the not too distant future. I voted LibDem.

  • Don’t agree with this at all. Having been through redundancy and seen others go through it, it can quite easily take more than 45 days to run things through. Job and skills matching can take that long, as can sorting out redundancy and retirement packages. I don’t see how halving this will make any difference to employers and just think it will mean poorer standards for workers. A bad mistake allowing this policy which I think we will regret.

  • This is just another case of lib dems working hard behind the scenes to make sure tory proposals get watered down, and then being given the “reward” of announcing the tory-lite policy. The tories appear to be experts at anchoring, and experts at getting us to poison our own well. I don’t know why anyone posting here is surprised by it any more, but I am (frankly) amazed that our ministers are still falling for it, given that this will be a big contributor to their likely electoral massacre in just 2 & a half years.

    What does amuse me is the number of commenters here who think that patronising tone, or even not the nanosecond required to get Caron’s name right, is the best way to be taken seriously.

  • I’ve been through this and the consultation was bs… In a way it makes it worse when it drags on for so long and you know the decision is made. I think 60 days would have been better, and I only would have agreed to this as Clegg if I couod get something in return, eg a retraining payment etc. Unfortunately Clegg seems to be the least capable horse trader in UK political memory.

  • Jennie, what ever Caron gets paid to try to write about this kind of thing in positive terms, its not enough.

  • Robin Martlew 20th Dec '12 - 11:58am

    Not until we look seriously at alternatives to Capitalist Phiosophy and methods can we beginto see just how stupid and stultfying Capitalism is!The alternative is not Socialism, and as an ardent Lib Dem I see genuine, but not simple, alternatives.
    The problem with being ‘in power’ is that we do exactly what governments have done for ages, lean over like contortionsist with only one eye on reality, trying to justify the nonsences we have adopted.
    If we are to recover we need to do what attracted people to us since the 50s/60s. Keep saying recognisably sensible things things which threaten the political success of our rivalsl as we did from the 50s onwards. Power is great once you have genuine majorities by which you can stand. Compromises in that field leave you looking just like any other half baked party.
    We had made great advances and won many arguments and even influenced government legislation during that period until the mirage of ‘power’ diverted us.
    I’m afraid it will take as long again for us to regain that position.

  • Stephen Hesketh 20th Dec '12 - 1:19pm

    @Simon. You are of course factually correct. No shock there. The shock is that Liberal Democrats have gone along with a pure Tory policy that we would never have proposed on our own.

    As pointed out by others, whatever the intended purpose of the 90 day period, it can prove a very useful time in which to find alternative employment. We all know that it is easier to find a new job while in employment.

    @Jennie – @Caron – I realised almost straight away what I had done (Carol). Apologies!

    @ Jennie -Fully agree with your first paragraph.

  • Keith Browning 20th Dec '12 - 4:01pm

    Reference to my previous post – re my own experience with 90 days ‘consultation’.

    Those under threat of redundancy made an assumption that the 90 consultation period was a sham – which was exactly what it turned out to be….!!!!!

    Therefore, we took control of our own destiny..!! Not relying on either, the bosses, the unions or the law. In the end they all came up short of what we actually achieved for ourselves.

    Middle management helped the younger recruits, which is why we all ended up where we wanted to be, with a job or an organised retirement. Our one mistake was to elect people to the ‘discussion process’, who were only interested in looking after their own, personal interests., not those of the group ).

    In these situations – ‘time’ is on the side of the employees – every day that it is shortened favours the company. Seems obvious, which is why the Tories are working towards ‘instant’ dismissal, or as close to it as they can muster.

    This is all gradually taking us back to life in Britain BEFORE the ‘Factory Acts’, the Reform Bill and all the other social measures that were passed between 1830 and 1850.

  • Richard Boyd 20th Dec '12 - 4:19pm

    There are not many serving Tribunal members who are Liberal Democrats.
    I am one. I do not recall the Party targetting us for our opinions.

    Richard Boyd, OBE DL

  • At the next General Election how are the voters going to find a difference between the LibDems and the Tories? I’m in my 50′s and this is the most right wing government I can remember and all it’s policies have been supported – or even introduced – by us. I just can’t see us getting away with “it wasn’t us it was those nasty Tories”. Labour will be laughing all the way to the polling booths.

  • ..I also went though a 90 day redundancy consultaiont quire recently.. fortunately I found another job within the company.. after 90 days I can honnestly say that only a handfull of about 50 staff had found jobs. One got a job at Commett..I live in the North East of Engalnd and the place is not exactly thriving at the moment.

    ..Please don’t insult my intelegence by saying that the Lib Dems wartered down the Tory proposals. Once again, it is not something they had to do and as far as I am concerned the blame lies soley with them. I sometimes wornder if Nick Clegg is deliberately trying to make his party unelectible.. I personally could never invisige voting Lib Dem again..

  • Alistair: paid? Paid? LMAO!! Oh if LDV authors got paid I’d be doing it myself.

    Nick, yes, that’s what I meant by anchoring – see, for example, this blog post: http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-anchor-effect-how-to-drag-a-debate-your-way-also-i-hate-liam-fox/

  • @Nick
    “when one side wants to kill all the kittens, and the other is against kill any, killing half of them isn’t compromising,”

    Here the first side are dogs. The other comprises a mix including a substantial number of cats. Though this substantial number appears to be rapidly reducing.

  • Why cant Jo just say NO! This proposal is badly thought through, for the reason that others have stated above.

  • Anonymous this time 20th Dec '12 - 11:47pm

    My company, with workers in Germany and the UK, is shedding staff, if possible volunteers. The deal it is offering to German staff is better than the deal it is offering to British staff. It is acknowledged that this is because formal consultation rights are already much stronger in Germany than in the UK, and so a better deal has to be offered to persuade German staff to volunteer.

  • The question in my mind is what difference would 45 days have made to Comet?
    I suspect that the advantage of 45 days (over 90 days) is that a company would have 45 additional days of trading before it was forced to make an announcement about it’s trading position.

  • Peter Watson 21st Dec '12 - 8:22am

    @Anonymous this time “a better deal has to be offered to persuade German staff to volunteer.”
    That is the whole raison d’etre of this sort of policy: if it is easier to get rid of employees then employers are more likely to take them on. Sadly, the only part of this that is guaranteed by the change in the law is the “easier to get rid”.
    The arguments for it that amuse/confuse me the most are the inherently contradictory ones. “Most negotiations take less than this so it won’t have much effect” – then why bother? “This government’s policies mean that employment is high” – so again, why bother? I hope that this is not the thin end of the wedge, with worse to come.
    And yet again valiant Lib Dems, Cable and Swinson this time, have leapt into the breech to provide a human shield for tory policies that have been slightly moderated but presented as ours, providing plenty of quotes to be thrown back at them in the future. Jennie describes this problem very well, and it is a shame that our MPs don’t seem to have sussed it out yet.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st Dec '12 - 9:09am

    Colin W, I am not failing to undertand the point you raise. I know perfectly well that notice period is completely different. However, if the employer can make you redundant after 45 days rather than 90, then you lose out on pay for the 45 days that you would receive at the moment.

  • paul barker 21st Dec '12 - 9:49am

    Most of the comments & the article itself seem to ignore what the management would do. If a company sees problems coming up, the extra 45 days just means they will start the process 45 days earlier surely ? In fact one possible result of the change is that sometimes the redundancies might be abandoned if conditions improve during the extra 45 days leeway.

  • @Paul Barker, that seems to be the case at Ed Sheppard’s company. Ninety days seems to leave less time see what is going to happen and requires taking the tough decisions earlier.
    At the end of the day though, there is a fault line running through politics between A) people who believe nobody has a right to be employed by someone who doesn’t want them and B) people who believe that there is such a right, provided someone has been working in the same place for long enough.
    The problem for the Lib Dems is firstly that the fault line runs down the middle of the party and secondly that the leaders say publically that they believe A) but act as if they do B). – remember the public thinks parties are the leaders and the members are just a fan club.

  • To the quibblers the message is – Get real! With just 57 MPs we cannot stop every Tory initiative which favours employers . We have to be selective and this was just less bad than most of the ghastly Beecroft ideas. Coalition isn’t fun but it is necessary!

  • Alex Matthews 22nd Dec '12 - 11:54am

    “Why cant Jo just say NO! This proposal is badly thought through, for the reason that others have stated above.”

    Sometimes I do wonder whether people actually realise that we did not win the last election, heck, we did not even come second. We are NOT the senior party in this coalition, and that in itself, should make it clear as to why she cannot just say ‘no’. She has probably said ‘no’ to about 20 other even crazier proposals, but is part and par of course of coalition she has to accept something, so she accepts the least damaging of the nutty Tory proposals.

  • Peter Watson 22nd Dec '12 - 5:50pm

    @Alex Matthews “We are NOT the senior party in this coalition, and that in itself, should make it clear as to why she cannot just say ‘no’. She has probably said ‘no’ to about 20 other even crazier proposals”
    I assume you are a Lib Dem supporter and therefore relatively knowledgeable about the party’s policies, yet the best you can say in defence of this is that Swinson “probably” rejected even crazier ideas. But you don’t know – none of us do. So how is anybody not predisposed towards the party (i.e. most of the electorate) supposed to give Lib Dems the benefit of the doubt when they see Swinson and Cable as the government mouthpieces putting forward and defending these policies?

  • As a long-tme admirer of the Liberal Party (largely because of their past brave and aggessive stands on many ‘liberal’ policies) I am truly saddened by the behaviour of your LibDem Party of today. Where has the radicalism and bravery gone?

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Dec '12 - 7:29pm

    Hywel (in repsonse to my noting the Conservatives have 306 MPs and the LibDems 57)

    And without those 57 they can’t get anything through. About 18 months the Thick of It’s Facebook page posted, “Just once I’d like to see Nick Clegg strap on a pair and say ‘You know what Dave, if you want to do that, get a majority. Now go away’”

    Sure, but part of the problem is that getting a majority to oppose something is easier than getting a majority to propose something. Many people would like the LibDems to vote against everything the Tories propose, but then what happens if every party votes against everything proposed by every other party? Stalemate is the first thing, which will be blamed on the existence of the smaller parties, and so the big two parties will say “get rid of them, go back to the old two-party system”. Of course, if we did that, we’d have a majority Conservative government in right now. It does seem to me to be odd that people moan about the LibDems not doing enough to stop the Tories, and use that to argue in effect for there being a pure Conservative government.

    Nick Clegg has made thing much worse, of course. First by his very obvious bias to the economic far right of the party, which means it’s much harder to believe what’s being done under his leadership is just the best compromise he could reach rather than what he secretly wanted all along. Secondly by his policy of making out the Liberal Democrats are almost of equal power to the Conservatives in the coalition, so making sure we get equal blame for what it does, even though with less than one sixth of its MPs we ARE in a position where we can only influence small aspects of it.

    However, if Clegg were really to say “You know what Dave, if you want to do that, get a majority. Now go away”, what would Cameron’s reply be? Something like “Go ahead, make my day” I suspect or maybe (to be seasonal) something about turkeys voting for Christmas. I’m afraid numbers do count, in Cameron’s eyes the LibDems are just 57 MPs on the left he has to balance against his own right-wing who number considerably more and can equally use the same threat. If the balance of MPs between the two parties was in proportion to their vote in the election, it would be very different. Which shows again how damaging are Clegg’s tactics of putting forward the current situation as representing our ideal, as the sort of multi-party government we were always working towards. It isn’t anything like what we have always wanted due to the huge distortion in representation caused by the electoral system.

  • …….”However, if Clegg were really to say “You know what Dave, if you want to do that, get a majority. Now go away”, what would Cameron’s reply be? Something like “Go ahead, make my day” “. Matthew Huntbach is certainly correct in that Cameron would surely say something similar to this. However this would confirm his unreal grasp of “realpolitik” – even worse than that of Clint Eastwood. Make no mistake from now on the ‘turkeys’ are the Tory Party and, I’m afraid, the LibDems. Labour (rightly or wrongly) have been gifted a free pass to slaughter both parties at the next election. Anyone remaining who doubts this is, in my opinion, living in the land of Cameron/Clegg.

  • Alex Matthews 22nd Dec '12 - 11:57pm

    @Peter Watson, read the Beecroft report; that will instantly show you what the Tories really want to do. I really do dread to think what the Tories would have done without Cable and Swinson there.

  • Alex Matthews 22nd Dec ’12 – 11:57pm
    “@Peter Watson, read the Beecroft report; that will instantly show you what the Tories really want to do. I really do dread to think what the Tories would have done without Cable and Swinson there.”

    The Lib Dems are in a No-Win position in this Coalition. They apparently stop the excesses of the Tories but no-one believes them when they say this -they just get blamed for the slightly less bad things. And because they are constantly on TV etc announcing these policiesc they are badged with them in the public eye. They are the perfect human shield for the Tories.

  • strikes me this is where a membership campaign should come in – do we oppose 45 day altogether, do we seek transitional arrangements, or do we demand a moderate compromise to, say, 60 days?

  • Max Wilkinson 23rd Dec '12 - 12:12pm

    The real problem here is that a Lib Dem minister is being rolled out (again) to announce what is essentially a Tory policy. If the Tories want to reduce employees’ rights, they should be forced to make the announcements themselves.

    There’s no point in having Lib Dem ministers in the media announcing unpopular measures that will further alienate a lot of people who voted for us at the last general election. Whoever is advising the ministers, in this case and many others, needs a lesson in PR.

  • …………………………. read the Beecroft report; that will instantly show you what the Tories really want to do. I really do dread to think what the Tories would have done without Cable and Swinson there………….

    Really? It can hardly be a coincidence that “Wonga Beecroft” was chosen (the equivalent of chosing “Herod” to comment on childcare).
    Does anyone seriously believe that a report, concluding that “people would be dismissed simply because their employer did not like them. While this is sad, I believe it is a price worth paying for all the benefits.”would be implemented “IN FULL”….No chance!
    However, to paraphrase an earlier poster “If you want to kill half the kittens, first propose killing them all”

  • @Max Wilkinson. With respect, if you are Tory and in government, it makes perfect sense to get the LibDems to announce the grim bits of news, and thus be humiliated and (the Tories hope) even more loathed. From a Conservative perspective this has worked beautifully for them in the last couple of years – they want to remove the LibDem threat. That’s politics, and if the LIbDems fall for it, as they routinely do, that is up to them.

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