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Kathy Gyngell: Labour’s would-be leaders should realise conservative women are happier than the sisterhood


Poor old Jezza and Owen Smith. Neither – the one with his gender equality pledge or the other with his 50 per cent women in Parliament (regardless of merit) bribe – is likely to make Labour women happy any time soon.

This is not because Corbyn is a fraudulent feminist. He is, I grant you: he walked out on one wife because she didn’t obey him over their son’s education and had his next wife trailing the requisite number of steps behind him and an all-female entourage on the way to his leadership launch.

It’s not even because of his shamefully weak response to the ‘roughing up’ of so many of his fairer sex MPs by Momentum or others of his ‘direct action’ insurgents, which left his remaining feminist credentials in tatters.

Though Owen Smith’s bribe may bring him the Labour wimmin’s vote, he shouldn’t delude himself it will put him at the head of a satisfied or grateful new coterie. It won’t.

It’s because neither of Labour’s leaders have spotted the news that women are no longer the happier sex or that any feminist sticking plaster they apply will only make matters worse.

I have to admit that in the middle of Theresa May’s Notting Hill purge I too nearly missed the Office of National Statistics happiness index release. There was far too much going on the morning after the night of the long knives to worry about happiness – a salutary thought in itself.

And Mr Cameron inexplicably ignored it too. His ‘farewell’ speech notably did not add his great happiness and wellbeing index initiative to the tally of great Dave policy innovations along with gay marriage.

You’ve probably forgotten that back in the halcyon ‘rose garden’ ‘call me Dave’ pledged to make happiness the new GDP. He even quoted from the former US Senator Robert Kennedy, who’d said GDP measured everything “except that which makes life worthwhile”. And Dave opined the information gathered would help Britain re-evaluate its priorities in life.

Our very modern former PM was more right than he knew. Six years later and the data garnered suggests that we – or rather they, the Government – should get going on said re-evaluation and hang fire on those gender parity policies.

Guess what the main finding was? Despite all that ‘progress’ in terms of equality, women, or more specifically female workers, are no longer the happier sex. In fact feminism, even the ‘Wonder Woman’ Telegraph dared tell us, is ruining women’s lives. How ironic.

Of course such heresy was never going to get a whole load of attention. This very un-PC news finding that, despite undeniably greater opportunities in virtually every aspect of life, women enjoyed less happiness sat uncomfortably on the orthodox feminist template.

The feminist hardliners would be left arguing that women are still grossly discriminated against (in drug addiction terms that’s the ‘more is never enough’ excuse), sadly exactly what the poor deluded Mr Smith is pandering to. He is buying into his own extinction.

This conservative-looking married father of three must, in his heart of hearts, have begun to wonder what will satisfy women – given there are twice as many holding political office as in 1995, that young women’s earnings outstrip their male counterparts, and that more women go to university and medical school. And that Big Brother is on the case of any company not complying with the rafts of restrictive equalities orders.

Mr Smith needs to learn quickly that giving in to ever more demands, from 50 per cent females on the front line to 50 per cent compulsory paternal childcare, won’t make women happier. It will just make them crosser.

This is all explained by ‘the paradox of declining female happiness’ identified by American academics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009, the year before Dave ordered his index.

This found that by most objective measures lives of women have improved dramatically over the past 35 years, while measures of their subjective well-being indicate their happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. Women in the 1970s typically reported higher subjective well-being than men.

What’s more, this is pervasive across demographic groups and industrialised countries. And a new gender gap is emerging – one with higher subjective well-being for men (despite the many slings and arrows of outrageous feminine fortune men today endure).

Messrs Smith and Corbyn might note too on the sensitive issue of female happiness that women who describe themselves as “conservative” have been more likely, over the last revolutionary forty years, to say they are ‘very happy’ than women to their ‘left’. Those who say they are “extremely conservative” have proved happier still.

Strikingly, “women who say they have turned down a promotion or made some other work sacrifice for the sake of their families report high happiness levels”. I am not surprised, no more than I was at Dave’s recent Happiness Index results.

The truth is that most of the theories and ideas built up around gender equality in the last few decades are wrong. What feminists hate most is to acknowledge that most men and women have different career aspirations and priorities and don’t therefore expect the same job outcomes. Women, especially mothers, in the main want to work not for work’s sake but for their family’s sake.

Sad though it is to say, I doubt either of Labour’s prospective leaders are likely to put this in their pipes anytime soon because the women they woo are outliers, like all other highly ambitious and non-representative women. Even the old rogue Corbyn has Diane Abbott to face once her feebler feminist colleagues are despatched for his greater good.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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