Your commercial news round-up: voter ID, fraud, Trump, defining ‘sex’, gender pay gap

updated on 06 April 2023

Reading time: seven minutes

This week has been filled with fraud, arrests and women’s rights so sit tight as we take you through our pick of the top commercial stories, and use the Wrestle with PESTLE method to help you break down the news.  

  • Uproar has erupted across the UK as over the past 10 days letters announcing May’s local elections have included instructions for voters to bring one of 22 forms of acceptable ID to their local polling station in order to vote. The objection to this seemingly reasonable request, after all countries including Canada, France, Italy, Norway, Israel and Hungary demand it, stems from the fact that since the last general election in 2019 there have only been six convictions of voter ID fraud. In fact, there have been more cases of Conservative MPs facing sexual offences/misconduct charges in this time than there have been cases of voter ID fraud. Under these new rules, local council workers who previously checked off names on a register will now be tasked with comparing each voter’s likeness to their ID photo. Women who wear religious head coverings will also be asked to remove them in front of one of 40,000 specially purchased mirrors and privacy screens. In order to tackle this momentous task, councils have been given extra funds by the government to hire 20,000 further poll clerks, although reports suggest they’re struggling to recruit these numbers. Labour representative Vince Maple stated one reason behind councils struggling for staff is the fact long-standing staff are refusing to cooperate because of the change in their role, adding: “Some of the issues [for staff] are around not feeling it is the right approach. Some of it is around feeling unsafe.” A further dispute relating to new voter rules surrounds the fact that many are claiming these rules are a deliberate attempt to prevent young people from voting. Young people won’t be allowed to use their student IDs or travelcards as forms of ID and, despite the fact that the 18+ and 60+ Oyster cards are identical in appearance, only the 60+ ones will be accepted at polling stations.  

  • Two political scandals have unfolded this week, the first being Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, being arrested over an inquiry into the Scottish National party’s (SNP) finances. Murrell, who’s the party’s former chief executive was arrested on Wednesday by police who have been tasked with investigating the funding of the SNP. The investigation centres around the party’s handling of more than £600,000 in donations raised by the party to assist in its pursuance of a second independence referendum. After being held for 12 hours Murrell was released without charge, pending further investigation. The SNP has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing; however, this didn’t prevent police erecting a large tent over the front door of Sturgeon and Murrell’s home and searching their house, garden and the party’s official headquarters. Humza Yousef, the new leader of the SNP described it as “a difficult day”. There’s been some deliberation as to whether police delayed Murrell’s arrest until after the leadership race had taken place to avoid further political disruption. Scotland’s Labour party has demanded the SNP come forward and “urgently state what they knew and when”. In a statement given to the press Yousef said: “I don’t think [the inquiry] is the reason why Nicola Sturgeon stood down.”  

  • Our next political scandal is a big one, ex US president Donald Trump has made history as the first-ever US president to be arrested. His arraignment came after a New York jury indicted him over an accusation he’d paid porn star Stormy Daniels hush money to cover up an affair in 2016. Trump is accused, in total, of 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a series of alleged hush money payments. It’s stated Trump paid $130,000 to Daniels through his attorney Michael Cohen  to prevent details of an affair between Trump and Daniels being released and tainting his run for presidency. Cohen was later reimbursed. Due to his high status, Trump wasn’t handcuffed, photographed for a mug shot or placed in jail. Although, this hasn’t stopped several AI generated images of Trumps arrest being plastered across the Internet. After appearing for his arraignment, the ex-president immediately returned to his mansion in Florida to give a prime-time televised speech where he disputed all charges and targeted New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who’s leading the prosecution and Judge Merchan. “Trump hating-judge with a Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter works for Kamala Harris,” Trump stated to loud applause. This address was in direct defiance of Judge Merchan’s warning that Trump must refrain from making threatening posts on social media that could inflame tensions or incite violence. Trump has irrefutably denied all charges labelling the accusations as nothing more than a “witch hunt”. In terms of potential consequences of these charges, it’s unlikely Trump will face jail time, however this can’t be stated with “100% certainty” according to former Brooklyn Prosecutor Arthur Aidala. The charge for falsifying business records is considered a low-level felony but does typically carry a sentence of up to four years in prison. The case is expected to be a drawn-out affair with no clear resolution at any point soon meaning, theoretically, Trump could still attempt to run in the next presidential election in 2024.  

  • From alledged ‘secret sex’ to biological sex, the Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch is set to change the legal definition of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act to ‘biological sex’. Rishi Sunak has pledged to create explicit legal protections for cisgendered women that would prevent transgender women from entering single-sex spaces, such as changing rooms and hospital wards and preventing them from competing in women’s only sports. Speaking on the plans Badenoch told the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to consider the “benefits or otherwise”. Baroness Falkner of Margravine, chair of the EHRC stated the change would bring “clarity”, after British equality laws had become filled with “ambiguity and confusion” as a result of transgender rights. The original recommendation for this change arose from gender-critical campaign group Sex Matters, prompting LGBTQ+ rights group Stonewall to come out and highlight that it “risks opening yet another chapter in a manufactured culture war that will see little benefit to women, cis and trans alike”. Under the new plans, a legal distinction would be created between people who were assigned female at birth, and those who’ve since transitioned and are now female bodied. The change would also mean transgender men would retain rights such as maternity leave that they’d have had access to, had they not transitioned. The move for such changes should come as no surprise after Sunak vowed during the Conservative leadership contest to change the Equality Act, stating it had “allowed every kind of woke nonsense to permeate public life”. Trans campaigner Katy Montgomerie warned that such changes would nullify Gender Recognition Certificates and would be “gutting” trans protections. 

  • Our final story looks at the UK’s gender pay gap. Almost 80% of UK employers are paying men more than women. In the past six years the UK’s gender pay gap has worsened according to new data published by the Financial Times. Ann Francke, chief executive at Chartered Management Institute, labelled these findings as “evidence” that organisations are “failing to deliver” when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. The pay gap was highest among financial and education sector employers, with the financial sector having an average gender pay gap of 22%. Banks were responsible for the largest pay gap among the financial sector with Lloyds, NatWest and HSBC all having gaps that exceeded 30%. Law firms in the legal industry also reported a significant pay gap, with Slaughter and May’s gap at 41.7%, and Linklaters LLP’s at 39.2%. A spokesperson from Linklaters said the firm was focused on “building a diverse pipeline of talent and increasing the number of women in our leadership positions”. That said, Freshfields Brackhaus Deringer LLP did exceptionally well, reporting a 0% gender pay gap in 2022, down from 13.3% in 2017.  

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