Yvette Cooper

A crisis-ridden health service staffed by doctors lacking commitment and rigour, politicians – male and female alike – who prioritise childcare over pressing national and global affairs and an education system that alienates boys to the extent their grades continue to plummet and their disaffection intensifies.

This is the future of modern Britain, where the demands of feminism now override all else – to the extent that they dictated the Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle this week.

Driven by his promise to fulfill a certain quota, there are now six women sitting in or attending Cabinet – made possible by the culling of a series of ‘male, pale and stale’ ministers.

Cameron might like to think that he has asserted his authority, but in reality he has shown himself to be completely subservient to the dogma of Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. For the changes in personnel marked the wholesale triumph of her radical feminist agenda.

For all the euphemistic rhetoric from the feminist lobby, positive discrimination of this kind is actually the enemy of equality. It means judging people on their biological make-up rather than their talent or drive. That is nothing more than blatant prejudice, precisely the kind of sexist bigotry that feminism is supposed to be against.

I would argue that the rise of women based purely on gender threatens to destroy the concept of meritocracy – which should lie at the heart of a fair society – and the principles of democracy itself.

The more we travel down this route, the more politics will become dominated by hierarchies of victimhood, with MPs focused on representing different identity groups – as increasingly happens in fragmented, divisive US politics.

Politics of old was a tough trade in which only the most able and determined could reach the top. The journey up ‘the greasy pole’, to use Disraeli’s famous phrase, involved long hours, a thick skin, and a spirit of single-mindedness that was inimical to comfortable family life.

The great advantage of this culture was that both policies and individual were thoroughly tested in the cockpit of adversity. Churchill was a great war leader because he had spent 40 years, filled with achievements and setbacks, in the savagely competitive world of front-line politics.

Powerful women also made it to the top, like Margaret Thatcher and Barbara Castle, but that was because they were not just talented but also remorselessly focused on their careers. Like many of their male counterparts, they made this choice and this sacrifice of family life.

But now that demanding culture has disappeared. In its place we have the world of family-friendly shorter hours, bans on night-time sittings, huge support staff, and parental leave.

Being an MP, once a calling, is now just another public sector job with perks, its whole existence geared towards the rights of female place-holders rather than the needs of the country.

What’s almost worse is the negative influence the feminist ‘fashion’ and values have had on male MPs. Today we hear more about Nick Clegg’s ‘cojones’ and David Cameron’s chill-axing than we about their progress with and concern for pressing global and national affairs.

Mimicking women’s lifestyle pages they too demand ‘family friendly’ hours at work. We are invited to believe what a wonderful dads they both are as they walk their children to school (what is Samantha or the nanny doing?) and as they play on play stations, like Joe Public.

This is not public service commitment. It is not what Joe Public wants. In fact it is frankly terrifying that the people who run the country are taking their eye off the ball to multi task – just to ape (modern) women.

Sadly, this process of feminisation is hardly unique to the political arena. In fact it can be seen right across civic life today.

The shrill demand that women must be recruited, promoted and mollycoddled has become a key theme of the modern politically correct public sector, with seriously damaging consequences.

In the past – and not just in politics – women who wanted to reach the top had to make sacrifices, often involving family responsibility.

Indeed, I have seen this in my own life. Both my sisters have enjoyed highly distinguished careers, one as Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at University College, London, the other as Marit Rausing Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, but they accomplished so much partly because they never had children.

But today the management of public organisations has to be refashioned to meet the requirements of young mothers, no matter how impracticable or expensive.

Take the Civil Service, whatever you think about Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey the reality today is very different. In my own encounter at meetings in various departments, I have been shocked by the attitudes and appearance of people hardly recognisable as civil servants – young men wearing jeans and earrings, women who looked as though they had fallen out of bed into their clothes without brushing their hair – only to find they held senior positions.

Sloppiness, not standards, and deference only to convenient bureaucatic dictates and fashionable PC ideologies, seemed to be the order of the day. One young man I had to deal was permanently off work early to deal with his next child-care crisis at home.

These are also the reasons why the NHS is in such permanent crisis and the GP service, once a by-word for public duty, has become such a national scandal.

The fact is that majority of medical graduates are now female, while women make up more than 60 per cent of doctors under the age of 30, but, because of their focus on their families, they simply do not have the same commitment and drive as their male counterparts once did.

The feminisation of the NHS means that a huge amount of cash, which could be spent on patient care, instead goes on maternity leave, out-of-ours cover, and personnel arrangements for flexible and part-time working.

Female doctors put in only about half the hours as male doctors do over their careers. They prefer to work part time rather than full time (whether or not they have children) and the system now accommodates this. They are also reluctant to work unsocial hours or in stressful departments (e.g. to take on more demanding specialties, such as cardiology or work in A&E) and typically retire earlier than male doctors.

This has led to capacity slump in the NHS at the same time as demand has been rising. Now and for several years this been ‘solved’ by recruiting huge numbers of staff from overseas, often trained in poor countries which can barely afford to train them, let alone lose them.

My own recent experience with the NHS is a case in point. Waiting with my frail 90 year old mother, confused, bruised and with a fractured pelvis after a bad fall, I was hit by the indifference.

Despite my best efforts to engage the attention of disinterested nurses, she sat first for four hours in A&E and then another four on the other side of a card board partition called the Clinical Decision Unit.

Not a cup of tea was offered her in eight hours as nursers chatted at their ‘station’ ignoring her. My experience is by no means isolated as nearly every member of the public will testify to.

Such lack of competence, commitment and care is the hallmark of today’s NHS. In the face of the feminisation of its work practices its public service ethos has all but disappeared.

In the past the (typically male) GP did not stop seeing people in his surgery until his last patient – however long the queue. Then he went on his visiting rounds sometimes into the night and still got out of bed in the middle of night on an emergency call out. With no complaints, as a matter of duty. Yes, that Dr Finlay did exist.

Today we struggle to even make an appointment with the inflexible female run and intransigent health centre. We do not know which usually female doctor we will be lucky enough to get to see – depending on their family friendly (to them) shift work. We may never get to see the same one. No wonder in the absence of any personal relationships with their patient the quality of care and commitment goes down.

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