According to Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, it is not possible to be a Conservative and a feminist at the same time.
Of course, it goes without saying that this is complete and utter tripe. It would, for example, come as something of a surprise to Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany and the most powerful elected politician in Europe, that her conservatism automatically cancels out her feminist credentials.
Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom, writing in The Telegraph, do a good job of dismantling Harman’s ridiculous assertion.
At the core of Harman’s comment is her view that only socialism can empower women. What she fails to acknowledge are the different political philosophies of socialism and conservatism that inform how to improve women’s lives. Give a woman a Labour prime minister and she can live on welfare – just. Give a woman a Conservative prime minister and we will increase opportunities for her to get jobs, for children to get a good education, for hardworking families to improve their lives, for young women to get apprenticeships and for entrepreneurial women to start businesses. Conservative feminism is about boosting women to their full potential. We are optimistic and ambitious for women. Labour’s policy towards women is still about the state protecting them. They don’t believe women can achieve for themselves. What patronising rubbish.
Also relevant is this observation:
The Labour party no longer seems interested in how to improve women’s lives. Instead it uses the “women’s issue” as a political weapon against the government, making crude calculations about effects of deficit reduction and ignoring the improvements on the other side.
How true. The Labour Party do use “womens issues” as a cynical, blunt tool to score political points. As soon as George Osborne (and Lord knows I’m no fan of his) released his Emergency Budget when the coalition government took office, the Labour Party were quick to come out with a list of the ways that the spending cuts would harm women specifically. They went as far as to threaten legal action, relying on one of Gordon Brown’s “screw you” departing legislative gifts to sue the government for not considering the “equal impact on men and women” of their plans.
To the Labour Party: Elect a female leader, and then come back and talk about feminist issues with a little bit of earned credibility.