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Sarah Ingham: Only one women-related policy issue has arisen so far in the campaign – and it's about men | Conservative Home


Sarah Ingham is the author of The Military Covenant: its impact on civil-military relations in Britain. 

The only women-related policy issue that has surfaced so far during this election campaign concerns men: on Monday Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, announced that the government would be clarifying the muddled 2010 Equality Act.

The Act will be rewritten to spell out that the protected characteristic of “sex” means “biological sex”.  The reform should finally ensure that women’s spaces, including prisons, toilets, hospital wards and rape crisis centres are once again for women, and not for trans women, i.e. those men who chose to identify as women.

Cue howls of misogynist outrage from leftists and leftish-ists. In Scotland, home of the notorious Isla Bryson (real name Adam Graham), the transgender double rapist who was sent to a women’s prison last year, Anas Sarwar accused the Conservatives of  creating a “culture war”; Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, was quick to denounce a “phony culture war”.

There is nothing phony about men gatecrashing the comparatively few spaces outside their domestic sphere where women expect to feel safe. Hyper-vigilance is second nature to many women and girls, ever aware of the possibility of male violence. Mindful of the shocking fate of Sarah Everard, some question whether they can trust male Police officers.

For the past few years, policymakers have ordered women to budge up and make way for men (i.e. trans women). The 2010 Equality Act (like the 2019 Climate Change Act which amended the Net Zero target) was another botched legacy policy passed in the dying days of a government, in this case Labour’s Gordon Brown.

The Act’s shortcomings were revealed when it collided with recent trend for transgenderism, that fad which licensed an Orwellian 2+2=5 world where – tada! – men can suddenly become women.

In recent years, the millions of women in Britain have been gaslit, as MPs and officials jumped on the trans bandwagon.  In prioritising the tiny number of men identifying as women over biological women, they thought they were signalling zeitgeisty #beingkind rather than 1970s-style sexism.

It clearly never occurred to them that they were giving double rapists a free pass or that they were licensing male violence against female sportswomen, most recently highlighted in girls’ ice-hockey.

Opposition MPs at least had the excuse they were following their leaders; Keir “It’s not right to say only women have a cervix” Starmer and Ed “A woman can ‘quite clearly’ have a penis” Davey.

Perhaps Starmer, Davey, and those MPs bleating about “culture wars” in a bid to silence debate and stifle women’s legitimate concerns should explain themselves to Mumsnet and its nine million users.  In its manifesto, the online forum for parents has called for the reform of the Equality Act to ensure women can access single-sex spaces.

For the past few months, The Guardian has put its considerable resources into what it believes is a vital campaign for women: membership of the Garrick Club. Attempting to storm the citadels of London’s traditional clubland hardly makes those involved the heirs to Millicent Fawcett.

At a time of global crisis, the storm in a champagne flute over the Garrick says everything about the Left’s frivolous priorities. Almost 50 years after Margaret Thatcher became Conservative Party leader, it is astonishing that progressive social justice warriors have never been too bothered about a woman leading Labour.

All together now, comrades: “What do we want? A salmon and cucumber tie! When do we want it? Now!”

Tuesday’s leaders’ debate – all that shouting – suggested politics is a boy’s club. Starmer’s wife and female relatives, and the Sunak daughters, were used political props, summoned up to score points. (The fasting, running-with-the-Hardest-Geezer Rishi saw off stodgy Sir Keir IMO; that almost two-decade age difference showed)

When the Party manifestoes are published, let’s hope there has been female input. This will become clear if there is any indication that women will not be put on a guilt trip or bullied out of their cars: across the country, safe and convenient public transport is non-existent.

Some of the most revealing testimony to the Covid Inquiry was from former civil servant Helen MacNamara, who stated that Westminster and Whitehall are “endemically sexist” environments.

The overwhelming majority of those managing the pandemic response were men. In a “macho and heroic” culture, women in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office were “ignored, excluded, and not listened to and talked over… the female perspective was being missed in advice and decision-making.”

Lack of thought given to childcare in the context of school closures. Lack of thinking about domestic abuse. Lack of serious thinking about carers, informal networks of care and single parenthood. Kinder ways of managing pregnancy and childbirth …

The lockdown-related failures outlined by MacNamara were not unique to the pandemic. The Mumsnet Manifesto includes calls for a statutory inquiry into maternity care, action to tackle birth trauma and a reform of family law in relation to domestic abuse. Three-quarters of the forum’s users think that women’s voices are not being heard at the top levels of government.

Like most social trends, from veganism to fidget spinners, transgenderism seemed to be everywhere, suddenly.  But just as suddenly, the tide is turning, helped by campaigning women such as Maya Forstater, Kellie-Jay Keen, Kathleen Stock and J.K Rowling.

Perhaps policymakers will get over their fixation on men who pretend to be women – and instead start focusing on women and the issues which matter to them.



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