Author Archives: Clive Sneddon

Have we got the balance right between fairness and equality?

The years since the financial crash have seen the 2010 Equality Act and an apparently unending stream of scandals in which firms have mis-sold products, rigged markets and exploited every loophole they could find to avoid paying tax while enhancing their managers’ pay, entailing in some sections of the media breaking the law for stories.

The Equality Act is the culmination of a series of ground-breaking laws since the 1965 Race Relations Act which have over generations changed attitudes in the UK. These laws have not prevented the stream of scandals, which come from a culture in which social constraints have eroded, so that managers can use their power to pay themselves more and justify that by growing the company however they like, including choosing which law will be applicable.

In all this the concept of fairness has been lost sight of. Everyone agrees what fairness means, but rhetorically individuals often apply it only to themselves in order to win an argument. In small children that is understandable, but growing up involves learning to see how others see things so that we can act as members of society and not just as individuals. The scandals show large organisations have been less good than individuals at learning socially acceptable behaviour. The immediate response has been to seek separate remedies for mis-selling, rigging markets, tax avoidance and media behaviour, whereas the scandals originate in managerial behaviour which has not been addressed. If the misbehaviour is not addressed, it will just find new outlets that are still legal.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments

Opinion: Devolution and federalism – the missing ingredient

union flag 1606The missing ingredient in Maria Pretzler’s thought-provoking piece (“We urgently need a new policy on devolution and federalism“) is nationalism.

The first politician in whose interest it was to bring the kingdoms of Scotland and England together was the King of Scots James VI. His solution was to reconcile the two nations by proclaiming himself King of Great Britain in 1604, and then in 1606 creating a Union flag, combining St George’s Cross with the saltire. The Scottish king saw Britishness as a supranational idea, and this is well understood in Scotland.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 32 Comments
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