Radical roundup: 10 stories that got buried this week

Left Foot Forward's roundup of the progressive news you might have missed.

In no particular order…

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10. The SNP has demanded the Home Office ditch its “hostile environment”, following the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) announcement that it will investigate the policies that led up to the Windrush scandal. 
 
The EHRC announced on Friday that it will look at whether the Home Office met its duties under the Equality Act when it denied services to and deported people who came to live and work in the UK as part of the Windrush generation. Using its legal powers, the EHRC will examine whether the Home Office complied with the Equalities Act and showed “due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities” and publish a report when the investigation is complete.

The SNP has tabled amendments to the Immigration Bill going through Parliament which are designed to roll back on the hostile environment and likely to be debated next week. If the Immigration Bill is passed unamended, EEA nationals will face a significantly increased risk of falling victim to the same hostile environment, with their free movement rights stripped away.

9. The mortality rate of deaths involving Covid-19 COVID19 in the most deprived areas of England is more than double that in the least deprived areas, according to the Office for National Statistics.

New figures show England’s most deprived areas saw 128.3 deaths per 100,000 people, while the least deprived saw 58.8 deaths per 100,000 people.  

8. Responding to news that Michael Gove says the Government has “formally confirmed” to the EU that the UK “will not extend the transition period and the moment for an extension has now passed,” Lib Dem MP and leadership candidate Layla Moran said:

“This is a monumental act of national self-harm. It confirms our worst fears that this Government is simply more concerned with politics and ideology than people’s lives and livelihoods. 

“This stubborn refusal to extend the transition greatly increases the risk of a damaging No Deal Brexit. The Government hopes to hide the disaster of Brexit under the cover of COVID-19, but the public and businesses won’t forgive them once the damage becomes clear. It is still not too late for the Government to change its mind.”

7. Universities and colleges desperately need a clear and coherent plan from government if the UK is to avoid losing educational capacity at a time when it will be needed most, the University and College Union (UCU) told the Prime Minister on Friday. 

In a letter to Boris Johnson to launch the union’s “Fund The Future” campaign, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the government’s limited actions so far had failed to meet the challenges further and higher education face.

The union said the government needed to provide financial guarantees to stop thousands of teachers, researchers and professional support staff losing their jobs at a time when education would be needed to drive the recovery from the pandemic.

6. Over 30,000 Amazon workers and customers have written to Jeff Bezos – CEO of Amazon – to urge the company not to scrap the £2 an hour extra hazard pay the company has implemented during the pandemic. The letter reads:

“The pandemic isn’t over but you cut the extra £2 an hour at the end of May, we’re back on basic pay. We’re asking for the extra £2 an hour to carry on until social distancing is over as we’re still taking the risk, wearing face masks every day.

“Amazon is making billions during this pandemic. You said the £2 extra was temporary pay for the pandemic, but the pandemic isn’t over. Everyday we still go into FCs and pack boxes for millions of customers.

“We’re still risking our lives and our families health to serve customers. Our pay should reflect this.

“Sincerely, Amazon customers and staff.”

5. Over 500 people have complained to press complaints body IPSO over The Sun’s front page, which gives top billing to the views of JK Rowling’s former partner and alleged abuser.

The complaints are predominantly under Clauses 2 (Privacy), 3 (Harassment), 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, IPSO told LFF.

4. The latest figures from the government’s Building Safety Programme, released on Friday, show that 300 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings still have the same aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding that was on Grenfell Tower.

Last year, the government said that all flammable ACM cladding would be removed by June 2020.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “Last year, the government said that they would remove all ACM cladding by the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. But the latest figures show that 300 buildings – equating to tens of thousands of homes – still have the very same cladding that caught alight at Grenfell. It’s an utter disgrace.

3. MSPs have backed Scottish Green calls for to suspend export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US in the wake of the response to protests about the killing of George Floyd.

Scottish Greens also won majority backing in the Scottish Parliament for the establishment of a museum to slavery in Scotland, to address the lack of awareness of the country’s links to the slave trade. The Scottish Green amendment was backed by both the SNP, Scottish Labour and Lib Dems.

Responding, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “This is a significant moment, and shows a genuine recognition of the role Scotland has in recognising that Black Lives Matter, both on the streets of American cities and in the recognition of our colonial past.”

2. The Commons’ Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the aviation sector’s reaction to the Covid-19 crisis has singled out British Airways for fierce criticism.
 
The damning report from the cross-party group concludes that the airline’s current consultation on staffing changes “is a calculated attempt to take advantage of the pandemic to cut jobs and weaken the terms and conditions of its remaining employees”. 
 
In a further reflection of the committee’s anger, it condemns BA’s behaviour, and that of its parent company IAG, towards its employees as “a national disgrace” adding that “it falls well below the standards we would expect from any employer, especially in light of the scale of taxpayer subsidy, at this time of national crisis.” Unite – who represent many BA staff – have welcomed the report.

1. Over 120 MPs – around a fifth of members – have applied for a proxy vote to take part in Commons divisions, after the government controversially shut down digital voting…and then had to conduct a partial u-turn this week.

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

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