A piece in yesterday’s Times:
Accepting that the Labour Party needs a new leader, the shadow chancellor John McDonnell says: “It’s got to be a woman”. Why? His statement is surely extraordinary. After all, it would be unthinkable to say that the new leader has “got to be a man”. Yet sex discrimination the other way is not only justified but thought in this case to be obvious.
Indeed, McDonnell’s call for a woman leader was echoed by the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and the party’s transport spokesman Andy McDonald.
This derives from the feminist mantra challenged by few: that society is a patriarchy in which women are oppressed and marginalised by the dominant male sex. Accordingly, although they are in the majority in the population, women are to be treated like minorities who require assistance to overcome their powerless and subordinate state.
The idea that appointments should be made on the basis of merit alone has long been swept away. For the paradox of an era which has made a fetish of opposing discrimination is that it nevertheless regards discrimination as mandatory in favour of groups considered marginalised or oppressed.
In the 1970s, feminism’s new wave embodied precisely this paradox. Women demanded to be considered the equals of men, with identical opportunities in jobs and promotion; and yet at the same time to receive special treatment with time off and other facilities for childcare.
Men who objected were told this was proof they were indeed male chauvinist pigs. Intimidated, they shut up; and their sons were brought up to assume that double-standard feminism was some kind of inalienable human right.
In 2014, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission challenged the paradox when it ruled that using all-women shortlists to increase the number of women in the boardroom would constitute unlawful sex discrimination. Yet Labour has been skewing its own candidate selection system through all-women shortlists for years.
It’s a process which is all about tokenism. In general, women tend to have higher priorities than the grubby power games of political life. So the target of equal gender representation inescapably means shoe-horning in mediocre and second-rate women at the expense of more talented male candidates.
The really outstanding women in parliamentary history emerged well before this policy of female privilege (although in that previous era there also seemed to be far more outstanding male statesmen too). Politicians such as Barbara Castle, Shirley Williams and Margaret Thatcher — not forgetting Betty Boothroyd who was a great Commons Speaker — made it despite, or perhaps because, no special favours were given to them on account of their sex.
Of course, there are talented and able women politicians today, just as there’s no shortage of dire male MPs. Yet so many women MPs seem incapable of independent intelligent thought. Parroting their dreary agitprop slogans on issues such as the gender pay gap or what they consider to be an unacceptably low rate of rape convictions, they behave like an army of automatons fighting the sex war against men.
So many of them are mind-numbingly conformist. A vanishingly small number press for issues concerning women and girls which run against dominant left-wing orthodoxies.
Last March on the Conservative Woman website, Andrew Cadman reported the result of his search in Hansard for Commons speeches over the previous five years on issues of concern to women. He found there had been 2,703 on childcare, 767 on the gender pay gap, 330 on female genital mutilation, 162 on stay-at-home mothers and 59 on the rape and grooming gangs.
It would seem that women MPs are obsessed by salaries and childcare while being relatively indifferent to the mutilation, pimping or rape of young girls.
Of course there are examples of prejudice or bias against women; and the rate of assaults against them remains a cause for concern. But in area after area, women have come to the forefront without a corresponding increase in standards of achievement or decency. Their rise to positions of influence in the BBC, theatre, law, civil service and other institutions has too often produced an exponential increase in self-righteous, vacuous, reason-resistant illiberalism.
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