Sexism has nothing to do with it


According to the Financial Times, Jack Straw, the UK's justice secretary, believes that "the media and political firestorm engulfing Baroness Scotland is motivated by sexism". Let's review the circumstances of the case:

  • Baroness Scotland, now attorney general, was the Home Office minister responsible for amending Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, which meant that businesses and individuals that employed illegal immigrants would face harsher penalties.
  • It turns out that that Baroness Scotland has, in fact, been employing an illegal immigrant herself.
  • She claims that she saw documents which led her to believe the employee was entitled to work in the UK, but is apparently unaware that the law requires employers to have checked and copied the documents in question – otherwise they have no defence.
  • The employee in question, Tongan Loloahi Tapui, tells the Mail on Sunday that Baroness Scotland made no enquiries as to whether she was eligible to work in the UK, and that she "didn't have any of the 6 documents that entitled her to work in Britain". If true, this would mean that Baroness Scotland had not only failed to comply with a law that she herself had introduced, but that she had also lied to the UK Border Agency to cover it up.

On that basis, I'd say it is: (a) clear why people are calling for Baroness Scotland's resignation; (b) clear that sexism has nothing whatsoever to do with it; and (c) clear that Jack Straw's assertion to the contrary is pretty pathetic.

Of course, the Asylum and Immigration Act is bad, onerous, illiberal law. This case is a perfect illustration of that fact. But when a government minister is caught breaking a law that they were themselves responsible for introducing, then surely they must resign. There is nothing more to it than that.