Women’s rights dissipating in a puff of smoke. According to Harriet Harman, that’s the fate that awaits us on 24th June, should we decide to extricate ourselves from the EU. This begs a question: what was the point of those all-women shortlists, if we depend on an external body for our policies and laws? Perhaps our Houses of Parliament will become merely a theatre for self-congratulatory virtue-signalling and Trump hate, while real power is ceded to our continental masters. Faith in our electorate has declined so much on the Left that they would rather be ruled by someone else. The brave suffragettes of a hundred years ago would be turning in their graves.
In persuading so many people of its indispensability, the EU demonstrates a recurring theme in social relations. Creating dependency is a method of control: client states forged by supranational dictatorships; protection rackets in corrupt cities; the office bully to whom junior workers defer out of fear rather than respect. Approaching our referendum, pro-Brussels campaigners argue that the prospects of every possible interest group are threatened by leaving this supposedly benevolent institution.
In an age of identity politics, claiming to speak for all women is a potentially effective appropriation strategy. The Royal College of Midwives declares that the EU protects women, despite overwhelming pressure on maternity units resulting from a two-million (and rising) East European influx. Another institution to have welcomed the long marchers of Marxist cultural relativism, the RCM is campaigning to decriminalise abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Under the radical feminist leadership of Cathy Warwick, the policy is dressed up in a catchy slogan: ‘We trust women’. Members were not consulted on either of these stances. While many midwives consider themselves feminist, their views on topics such as abortion and the EU probably vary widely, reflecting the spectrum of wider society. This is false representation, and an abuse of power over a captive population to pursue ideological goals.
Meanwhile, ‘progressive’ feminists show little interest in confronting hardships experienced by women and girls in genuinely disadvantaged sections of society. We hear less about cleaners than city slickers, and more of high heels than honour crime. Women must always be trusted, Warwick asserts, but what if their actions contravene our ethical norms, or the law? Leaving aside the highly contentious topic of abortion, consider the plight of a young girl held down by her mother and aunts for the barbaric custom of genital mutilation. In some cases, trusting women may be reinforcing abuse.
To be fair, the EU is unlikely to endorse Cathy Warwick’s hideous licence to choose life or death for a baby as late as the breaking of waters (perhaps in her absolute certainty she has glossed over the residual Catholic mores of our European neighbours). However, the EU does not deserve the accolade of promoting women. While it has advanced the agenda of well-educated women in politics and commerce, it has detracted from the quality of life of women lower in the social pile.
For example, car insurance in poor urban areas is typically high, and young women are priced out of driving by the prohibition of gender factoring, despite their lower risk. Thanks to the demand generated by mass immigration, mortgages are out of reach for mothers in the lower socio-economic stratum, while schools and GP surgeries may be free in money but not in access. As Liam Fox has eloquently explained on this website, the greatest burden of the EU falls not on those privileged middle-class women who vote Labour and Remain. Not on the sanctimonious, refugee-welcoming, Tory-loathing types who abhor patriotism and the backward plebs who read the Daily Mail or The Sun.
In an incisive Spectator column, Toby Young observed the snobbery of the liberal middle-class towards those who seek Brexit, characterised as the dimwits of fading provincial towns. It would be stretching the imagination to portray socially-conservative women as a downtrodden group, but undoubtedly they are marginalised by the metropolitan bias of the BBC and The Guardian, and to prosper they must succumb to political correctness in the workplace and on social media. Many women tempted to vote out stay silent, because the Left controls the language and thus the debate. For Brexit, read bigot.
Fortunately, not all in Labour lie supine to EU propaganda. Gisela Stuart sees her party’s support for staying in as a recruiting sergeant for Ukip; voters who the party should be attracting are turning away in their droves. Jeremy Corbyn is a lukewarm Remainer, but he is truly, deeply, madly devoted to open borders: let them come, he beckons; each one of them a better human being than our home-grown proles. While the Left has always regarded ethnic minorities as a rich electoral seam, it keeps strange bedfellows: global capitalists who drive wages down, and the bureaucrats and bankers pummelling the Greek people into submission. Not surprisingly, people perceive a conspiracy against the common man and woman.
Juncker, Merkel, Obama, Lagarde – after the threats of recession, the end of human rights and world war, you can do nothing more but await the verdict. On 23rd June, Cathy Warwick and Harriet Harman have no more of a say than the rest of us. ‘We trust women’ – yes, to make their own choice at the ballot box. And if Britons vote to leave, you will see as many female as male revellers in Trafalgar Square.
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