Suzanne Evans, Deputy Chairman of Ukip, is a pretty impressive speaker. I caught her on Woman’s Hour and thought she did quite well. Jenni Murray set up the interview in the usual Woman’s Hour way, making it appear that the Woman’s Hour inherently feminist stance is unquestionably good and anyone who challenges this is unbalanced.
Ms Evans came out fighting, immediately challenging the frighteningly biased introduction meted out to Ukip. Mr Farage’s party does not do very well among women, we are told. No surprise there as women are heavily invested in a big state, and UKIP advocate for a small state. I do think Ms Evans could have pointed this out and that ‘women voters’ are not one big mass that votes en bloc.
Jenni wanted to know how Ukip was going to provide more childcare, as this is ‘what women want.’ Every single woman wants more state-subsidised childcare (elections won by Jenni Murray – 0) and women need the State to hold their delicate, little, dandy hands.
This was Ms Evans chance to challenge the very premise of this ‘universal truth.’ It was a moment to say that, in fact, there are is a lot of research that says parents would like to care for their children at home more than outsource this role to others. But we did not get this. We got the usual – when Ms Evans was self-employed she did resent ‘not being able to claim her childcare costs’ as this was vital to helping her work.
Well, I was self-employed Ms Evans, and I did not expect the taxpayer to pick up my childcare bill and as a small state Ukipper I thought you would understand this.
The one thing I will not be consulting Ms Evans on is my tax affairs. It is not that you could not do your job without the childcare – it is that your child could not survive without being looked after by someone, and if it is not you, then you have to pay another to do so. This is a cost you bear, not anyone else.
We do know that you can only claim against tax for an expense that is integral to the business – the business, Ms Evans, not your life.
Ms Evans could have spoken about a much-needed family allowance, that would apply to all families and not discriminate between the worthy and unworthy, but this chance went a-begging. Although Ms Evans was not drawn on any firm policy in this area it was a disappointment.
Next up – Harriet Harman. She is for all-women shortlists, said Jenni, you should be too. Now, I know in Woman’s Hour land anything that Harriet Harman says is taken as gospel. But Ms Evans, you do not have to accept this.
Ms Evan’s reply was excellent – selection should be on merit and not on gender, but I would have slipped in, listen Jenni if I ever found myself on the same side of the argument as Harriet Harman I would seriously consider my position. A golden opportunity missed, I believe, to bring some much needed reality to Broadcasting House.
Jenni then decided to take the low road and throw in the Godfrey Bloom comment about women who do not clean behind their fridges being sluts. Ms Evans handled this well – with a simple, we will not stand for it.
May I offer the following suggestion. Ms Evans could have replied, listen Jenni cleaning behind the fridge is very important and needs to be done by someone. If you do not do it dust will build up and can be a fire hazard, and personally I do not want to die in a great dust sparked inferno merely because as a ‘feminist’ I refuse to clean behind the fridge.
This is the difference between Ms Evan, the politician, and myself the blogger/bearer of truth.
We are watching, however, watching and listening to see if Ukip will offer something different or just toe the feminist line.