Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Quitters were under fire not for being women, but for betraying the voters


A NUMBER of MPs are quitting Parliament for a variety of reasons, although none of them is Keith Vaz who is once again in disgrace for his conduct. Surely Leicester East can find a better representative? Of the so far 51 who have announced their retirement, 18 are female of whom some are citing the abuse that they receive as a key factor. Somehow they have decided that they are abused because they are women, and sure enough the sisterhood and BBC are peddling this line (including the Telegraph’s Judith Woods, who should know better).

Is it possible that these MPs are being insulted and threatened because they stood on a manifesto to honour the EU referendum outcome and then sought to thwart it? Might it be the case that the electorate finds being treated with such contempt a tad irritating? That the sight of some MPs seeking to undermine the Prime Minister’s negotiations on behalf of the country might be construed by many as a bit treasonous? That the reason for the abuse is not that they are female, but that they are dishonest and incompetent?

Which is not, of course, to suggest that death threats are acceptable behaviour; they are not and the perpetrators belong in prison, where many of them have been sent following complaints and prosecution.

But here’s the thing; the fundament of leadership (according to most of the world’s armed forces and all the good ones) is integrity. This quality has been missing from too many of our politicians for too long as they have sold their souls for popularity and likes on social media. True leaders earn respect through their actions and can thus succeed. False prophets end up being found out, which is what has happened to many of the 51. (There is at least one exception – Kate Hoey).

Ms Woods’s conclusion is that it may be hard to find MPs, particularly women. As it happens there has been a huge MP recruitment process under way in the past few months by the Brexit Party. Rather than struggling to find the 600 or so that they needed, they were drowned in applications – perhaps five for every place. Having met a fair few during the process, there were plenty of women amongst them. And plenty of ability. And integrity. And guts – the Remainer crowd are not known for their reason or good manners.

The additional cost of the replacement of sound policy with soundbites is the transformation of elections from a battle of ideas to auctions of how much of the electorate’s money a party can credibly pledge to spend. Amazingly the Conservatives, once the party of sound economics that saved this country from decades of socialism, have fallen into this in a big way. Quite how this election will pan out remains to be seen; so far we have BoJo’s big lie that Brexit is done (it isn’t, the deal is rotten and is not Brexit), Labour trying to breathe life into Marxism (at least it’s a big idea, even if it is one repeatedly proved to fail), and the Lib Dems being neither liberal nor democratic and currently trying to form an unholy alliance with Plaid Cymru and the Greens. The Brexit Party, (a party that wishes that it did not have to exist), is the wild card. It has a simple clear message that resounds nationally and it is now manoeuvring to become king maker. Those in the Westminster bubble who think that can’t happen are in for a shock, as any Remain MP in a Leave seat knows only too well.

This election is going to be brutal. It’s no place for the over-sensitive.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here.

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