Tuesday 1 December 2009

Don't let the Tories take away our right to be safe

Dave's dabbling again. This time the object of his pronouncements is health and safety legislation. And no Daily Mail myth and cliche is left unused in his crusade.

Does anyone remember the 1980's? A decade famous for Thatcher (of course), as well as some dodgy music and even dodgier dress sense. But the disasters were not just sartorial and musical. There are some very '80s names to remember as well - Hillsborough, Bradford, Zeebrugge, Purley, Marchioness, Kings Cross, Piper Alpha. The 1980's will be remembered as the decade in which people died in huge numbers in dreadful disasters (never call them "accidents") whilst mainly doing very mundane and supposedly risk-free things. What these disasters had in common was that they were all preventable; they all occurred for the want of basic safety provisions - a lookout on the dredger which sank the Marchioness, proper crowd control measures at Hillsborough, not putting to sea with the bow doors of a ferry still open! This was the decade when we were free from the shackles of rules on safety and "common sense" ruled the day.

Of course, Cameron's speech ties in nicely with the media paranoia about 'elf n'safety, which distorts and exaggerates every apparently inappropriate and overbearing use of the legislation, and no doubt Cameron thinks this will grub him a few votes.

But there is more to it than that. His is a message which the deregulation enthusiasts of big business want to hear. The hidden agenda is a war on the basic standards of health and safety at work which it took the labour movement generations of campaigning, and thousands of lost and damaged lives to achieve. Even now we have only just got corporate manslaughter onto the statute book, and there has still been no prosecution as far as I am aware.

Don't let him get away with it. Don't let the next 10 years become another disaster decade.

No comments: