I emailed Groan – an important commenter on this site – to thank him for his contributions, and he responded with this, reproduced with his permission:
I appreciate the immense hill to be climbed. I know I keep banging on about it but one of the most important things is the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. It’s difficult to articulate how this works to those outside public services. But remembering I have worked in both the NHS and Councils in a region [J4MB: the North West of England] where “feminism” has little traction as there isn’t a large middle class. However the Strategy permeates instructions and directives from London and ensures all sorts of things that wouldn’t get support or be such high priority do get pushed.
The best example of this is indeed the refuge and associated women’s “industry”. Following the financial crash funding to Councils was cut. The “deal” was that the falling in income from Westminster would also mean the “ring fencing” which meant councils had to spend money on specific things would end, so councils could attend to what they deemed important. Almost immediately in my region, remembering most Councils are Labour, moves were made to end funding to a lot of the “women’s ” sector which was and is notorious for inflexibility (eg hostels wont accept women with teenage Male children in tow nor of course men with children) and pointlessness (theres many a “womens centre” supposedly safe spaces for women that appear to do little , other than some social and craft events (knitting pussy hats) for a small number of women). However as councils put their money into housing organisations for safe flats and tell womens centres to fund raise for their meetings and crafts then the lobby went into overdrive at Westminster, and the overhaul was brought to an end by VAWG “guidance” to councils and a national funding put for the VAWG Strategy which effectively means VAWG is now still ring fenced by central government.
This influence plays out in a myriad of ways in public services locally (and I’m sure nationally). Quite often the people charged with “equalities” policies and the like in local public bodies are not “experts” and so tend to simply copy what comes from Westminster with little more knowledge of evidence than any newspaper reader. Effectively local policy is made on little evidence. In my recent career where I had considerable access I had quite some success in getting policy and practice in, boys reading, NHS recruitment, publicity for Male victims of DV, access to GPs and health services and so on. Simply by bringing forth credible data and a bit of pursuasion. I dont claim this was revolutionary or anything, just to make the point about how superficial much of the decision making is. As you say most of this happens completely independently of any local politicians who are nominally in charge.
Time and again my interventions did no more than use Government data and reports or from the NHS. It is simply not true that Gov. Policy is “evidence based” its local and national arms rarely interrogate their own data. What they do have an eye to is “guidance” and pronouncements from Westminster. I think it is probably hard for the public to grasp how important a Civil service strategy is. VAWG Strategy is accross all departments and influences Gov. Guidance on such disparate matters as sex education, police priorities, research funding to Universities, educational priorities, welfare benefits ( undermining the Duncan Smith reforms) family courts, as well as the obvious DV industry and “Womens sector”. The politicians (local and national) are kept out of the loop and simply get handed positive sound bite “good news” as their main concern is to look like they are “doing something” and that “something” is potentially popular. Being nice to children and mothers is a sure fire winner.
I sincerely hope that my comments do help you and your brave allies. I offer comments genuinely to be helpful. To me the good and bad news is the same. That in fact much of what happens is in fact in the hands of relatively few people with a huge influence beyond their numbers. Their success also point to how to counter it.
I personally remain hopeful because in my experience most people take “equality” to be a universal good and interpret this as equal treatment. They also assume that this is what they can expect. Hence the shock from my Male acquaintances when they discover inequity in divorce and family proceedings. I take instruction from the journey of Philip Davies who has said he simply look on trust the statements about the treatment of female offenders for years, until he took the simple step of looking at the Gov. Data himself. Or the Bar Association that pushed on the concealing of evidence. Also the younger generation of men and women who are paradoxically less blinkered by chivalrous gynocentric ideas and presume “same treatment” is a goal.
If you have, thank you for reading this. Thank you too to yourself and Elizabeth and your other supporters prepared to poke at the elephant.
All the best
UK Men’s Rights Action, our official supporters’ Facebook page, is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.