Philosopher named as preferred candidate to chair UK Equality and Human Rights Commission

Onora O’Neill has been named as the Government’s preferred candidate to chair the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission:

Following a recruitment process, Cambridge academic, Baroness Onora O’Neill of Bengarve, has been selected as the Government’s preferred candidate for appointment to the role of Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller has written to Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Committee will hold a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing with Baroness O’Neill on 16 October.

The Committee’s conclusions will be considered carefully before the final appointment is decided.

If her appointment is approved, she’ll have  a tough job. The Commission has been heavily criticised from all sides since it was formed in 2007 – several much-respected commissioners resigned in 2009 – and the coalition government has massively reduced its budget.

Are we returnng to the lawless disenfranchisement of the 1800’s?

The distinguished reporter and political commentator, Elizaberh Drew, thinks so. Below are the beginning and end of her NYRB piece, which has unrestricted access. Her evidence is worth considering. Also worth thinking about is what women can do. Too many important issues are at stake.

The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it…Having covered Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more recently written a biography of Nixon, I believe that the wrongdoing we are seeing in this election is more menacing even than what went on then. Watergate was a struggle over the Constitutional powers and accountability of a president, and, alarmingly, the president and his aides attempted to interfere with the nominating process of the opposition party. But the current voting rights issue is even more serious: it’s a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right.
This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution.