Theresa May’s One Chance For Redemption: Sacrificing Her Leadership For A Sane Brexit

Theresa May - Brexit - Article 50 declaration signing

Theresa May will never be remembered as a great prime minister because she is timid, calculating and lacks any positive vision for the country. But she can still redeem her failed premiership by sacrificing it in order to achieve a sane Brexit

The fate of Brexit hangs in the balance, primarily because two equal and opposing forces are selfishly attempting to hijack Britain’s negotiating stance for their own purposes.

One one hand there are the Brexit Ultras (or the Brexit Taliban, to use the less charitable but evocative phrase) who insist, like religious fundamentalists, that theirs is the One True Brexit, the only route to heaven, while all other interpretations are dangerous heresy. These people – your Steve Bakers, John Redwoods, Jacob Rees-Moggs and Suella Fernandeses – do not see Brexit as meaning departure from the political entity known as the European Union. To them, Brexit means severing virtually all ties and treaties with the EU while retaining nearly all of the current perks, while making up for any economic shortfall by effortlessly completing a series of swashbuckling free trade deals with countries often far less important to the UK economy than our nearest neighbours.

But on the other hand, there are forces who are arguing passionately for a “soft Brexit” with strong and enduring ties to the Single Market, not because they believe in Brexit or have accepted it, but because they see this as the first step to reversing the result of the EU referendum and keeping Britain in the European Union (generally by means of a second referendum, which they believe – erroneously, I think – that they could win). These people are not to be trusted. During the referendum campaign they could be found loudly insisting that any change in Britain’s relationship with the EU would result in political isolation and economic Armageddon, yet now they claim (somewhat more plausibly) that it is only separation from the Single Market which will cause harm. Their old argument was therefore a lie, a fig leaf to justify their determination for Britain to remain part of European political union at any cost.

And sandwiched between these two fanatical, opposing forces, are the saner Brexiteers – such as those connected to the Leave Alliance – who have been arguing all along that Brexit is not a sudden event but a process of unpicking 40 years of political and regulatory integration, and that the best way to achieve our political ends without causing undue economic damage is by means of a transition that involves rejoining EFTA and trading with EU member states on the terms of the EFTA-EEA agreement.

At the moment, however, Theresa May’s inability to exert control over her own party means that the government’s negotiating stance is effectively held hostage by the Brexit Ultras, who see the slightest moderation on trade as a “betrayal” of Brexit, despite laws relating to the EEA accounting for just 20 percent of the total EU acquis. Despite having languished in the political wilderness for decades, getting 80 percent of what they want on the back of a tight referendum result is somehow not good enough for the Brexit Taliban – and their selfish greed for the full 100 percent needlessly imperils the whole endeavour, and our economy with it.

But it need not be like this. As Stephen Bush points out in the New Statesman, there is no shortage of MPs willing to work with Theresa May to achieve a softer, saner Brexit (at least for a transitional period) if only she was willing to work in a bipartisan way rather than remaining a hostage to her own backbenchers.

Bush writes:

As Parliament has ratified Article 50, passed May’s Queen Speech and thus lost control of its ability to directly influence the government’s negotiations, when the final Brexit deal comes before the House of Commons, the option they will be voting on will be “Theresa May’s Brexit deal or no deal”. As I’ve written on several occasions, no deal is a great deal worse than a bad deal. No deal means, at best, exit on World Trade Organisation terms, no deal to allow British airplanes to fly to the European Union or the United States, chaos at borders and an immediate and hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

This all has one massive upside for May: while there are many Conservative MPs who don’t accept this to be true, the opposition parties all know it to be the case. May will always be able to count on enough MPs from the parties of the centre and left being unwilling to make their own constituents’ lives drastically worse.

But the snag remains:

But that would require her to pursue a Brexit deal that wasn’t focused on keeping her government on the road –  one that saw getting the best deal as more important than preventing May being removed by her own backbenchers. The difficulty is that Theresa May displayed precious little desire to pick a fight with her own party before she threw away their first parliamentary majority in 23 years and she has even less of one now.

This is one of those times when a presidential-style system of government would actually aid Britain enormously. With a separately-elected head of government, more autonomous and less beholden to the rank and file of their political party, it would be easier to forge a winning coalition in Parliament to pass a more sensible, measured Brexit bill. Unfortunately, with the British parliamentary system, any attempt by Theresa May to make overtures to pragmatists across the political aisle would immediately put her premiership in grave peril. A leadership challenge would all but certainly be triggered immediately, and it would then be a race against time to pass the bill before the self-destructive forces at work within the Tory Party concluded their ghastly business and replaced May with a One True Brexit fanatic.

But at this point, there is precious little to lose – not for the country, anyway (though Tories with medium-term hopes for future political careers may feel somewhat differently). And there is precious little for principled conservatives to lose either, given that Theresa May’s government has given every indication from Day 1 that it intends to fight a rearguard retreating battle against encroaching statism rather than take it on with a bold, alternative vision.

The prime minister and her Conservative Party have had all summer to dwell on the reasons for their disastrous election campaign and their their growing unpopularity among people with their original hair colour, and to come up with at least a sketched outline of a new approach. And what was the best scheme they managed to cook up between themselves in all that time? A puny, derisory pitch to reduce interest rates on student loan debt, in the risible hope that doing so might win the affections of young voters currently seduced by Jeremy Corbyn.

The ambition has gone from this Conservative government, together with any semblance of intellectual rigour in their policymaking. Rather five years of Jeremy Corbyn, constrained by his own centrist MPs and a Tory party in opposition, than any more of this decay and damage to our reputation. At least the government’s approach to Brexit might be somewhat more pragmatic if led by people who do not expect the European Union to freely offer all of the benefits of the Single Market for none of the costs or commitments. And then, when Corbyn’s Labour Party have proven themselves to be a shambles in every other respect, the Conservative Party might bounce back into government under the direction of a leader more worthy of respect.

What great development are Theresa May’s supporters hanging on for? What great new policies or achievements do they imagine her accomplishing with her puny non-majority in the time before she is inevitably toppled by one of her Cabinet members? There is nothing. So better to bring the suffering to a close and stop deferring the inevitable.

If the prime minister were better advised, she might also see the advantages of this option. Theresa May is a weakened leader, barely in control of her directionless party which itself is unpopular with voters after seven wasted years in government. At present, her premiership is set to come to an ignominious close with no significant accomplishments to her name. But this need not be so.

In a final act of defiance – and as an extravagant and substantial gesture to help bring the country together after the EU referendum and its fallout – Theresa May should stand up to her backbenchers and to the Brexit Taliban, and work with willing MPs from the opposite benches to ensure that a more considered Brexit Bill is passed by Parliament. This need not and should not be a formal arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition, who will have his own motives. Jeremy Corbyn’s support remains shallow within the Parliamentary Labour Party, and willing supporters could be found by going round the Labour whips.

At present, the very future of Brexit is being imperilled by zealots who foolishly insist that forty years of political and economic integration with the EU be unpicked in the space of just two years. These people need to be sidelined, and if the price of doing so is the end of an otherwise hopeless premiership and the provoking of a long-overdue existential crisis within the Tory party then it is a price very much worth paying.

There is nothing else that Theresa May can do which would impact so positively on her legacy at this point. The prime minister should consider her options.

 

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Does Brexit Mean That Baby Boomers Hate Their Own Children?

New Statesman hysteria - Brexit means baby boomers hate their own children

The idea that parents and grandparents would vote Leave out of hatred for their own children is as absurd as it is vile. But some Remainers will make any accusation in their rage against Brexit

The baby boomers of Britain are in the grip of a virulent, infanticidal mania. The EU referendum apparently caused highly contagious spores to be released into the air,  primarily affecting those aged 65 and over, causing them to forget any maternal, paternal or other protective familial instincts and instead seek to cause maximum financial and emotional suffering to their own children and grandchildren, for the pure pleasure of it.

Or at least so says Jonn Elledge, staff writer for the New Statesman, who brings every ounce of confirmation bias in his body to bear on a new YouGov poll in order to pronounce that by voting for Brexit, baby boomers and older people must actively “hate their own children”.

First of all, let’s be clear about what the YouGov poll actually says:

YouGov poll - Brexit extremism

That is, a significant majority of Brexit voters would be willing to tolerate significant damage to the British economy in order to see Brexit fulfilled, a tendency which the poll goes on to reveal becomes stronger among older age groups.

Is this necessarily evidence of “Brexit extremism”? Perhaps, but one can only say for sure if one takes it for granted that economic growth (or avoiding economic harm) is the sole valid consideration of a rational person, a premise which neither the poll nor Jonn Elledge even attempts to make.

And of course, the corollary to these figures is the fact that the same “extremism” is alive and well among Remain voters, many of whom would dearly love to see Britain heavily punished economically so long as it meant that Brexit was subverted and they could stay in their beloved European Union:

YouGov poll - Brexit extremism 2

Jonn Elledge takes no notice of this latter fact, though, and immediately launches into a hysterical tirade against the evil older generations who clearly could have had no other motive for voting Leave other than to watch as their children and grandchildren suffered and led diminished lives. No, seriously.

Elledge writes:

The older Leave voters are, the more likely they are to think crashing the economy because they don’t like Belgians is a pretty fine kind of idea.

That trend reaches its peak among the Leavers aged over 65, fully half of whom are happy to tell pollsters that they don’t give a shit if Brexit causes a relative to lose their job, they want it and they want it hard.

Ah yes, let’s begin with a glib assertion that Brexit is all about not liking Belgians or other funny foreigners. One might think that one year on after having his worldview so thoroughly and humiliatingly repudiated by the British people in the EU referendum, Jonn Elledge might have had the humility to go back to the drawing board and question some of his glib and not-very-witty assumptions about what motivates people to make political choices. But apparently not.

More:

The thing about the over 65s is that relatively few of them work: to be blunt about it, those most enthusiastic about people losing jobs are those who don’t have jobs to lose. The vast majority of this oldest cohort will be on pensions, whose value is far less likely to come under threat from a recession than almost any other form of income. Most will own their own houses, too. They’re the section of the population most likely to be left entirely unscathed by the Brexit-based recession. They are quite literally alright, Jack – and, it turns out, fully half of them don’t care if their kids aren’t.

Baby boomers, as a cohort, benefited from free education, generous welfare and cheap housing, then voted for parties which denied those things to their kids. Their contribution to intergenerational inequality led my colleague Stephen Bush, in one of his frequent bouts of being infuriatingly good at his job, to note that, “The baby boomer is one of the few mammals that eats its own young.” All this we already knew.

Nonetheless, it’s rare to see this selfishness communicated so baldly, so shamelessly. When asked directly whether they’d swap the wealth and security of their own children for a blue passport and the ability to deport Polish plumbers, they said yes in huge numbers.

“Would you like your children to have a better life than yourselves?” You Gov asked them. And the reply came back: “Fuck ’em.”

This YouGov poll could have touched off a genuinely interesting conversation about the balance between present wealth and future liberty, about other historical examples of populations allowing themselves to be bought off with bread and circuses in exchange for turning a blind eye to the way that their societies were (mis)governed. But that would have required a British political media class who did not think as a herd that the European Union is an unquestionably Good Thing, and that anybody who dissents from this groupthink is an irrational, evil hater.

Does Jonn Elledge seriously believe, in his heart of hearts, that those older people who voted for Brexit did so with the expressed intention of harming their children and grandchildren – or at least not caring that such harm might come to pass? Does he not realise that the counterfactual, unrecorded by YouGov (who did not bother to probe more deeply) is that perhaps these older people – rightly or wrongly – thought that by voting for Brexit they were preserving some other vital social good for their descendants, something potentially even more valuable than a couple of points of GDP growth?

I would posit that the supposedly hateful Daily Mail-reading generation of grey haired fascists scorned by Jonn Elledge actually do not have any particular desire to inflict economic harm on their children and grandchildren, but simply realise – through having lived full lives through periods of considerably less material abundance than those of us born since the 1980s – that other things matter too. Things like freedom and self-determination, precious gifts which were under threat during the Second World War and the Cold War, and which the older generations who remember these difficult times therefore do not casually take for granted.

They correctly perceive that sometimes there is a trade-off between short term economic security and long term freedom and prosperity. Can anyone who knows their history – or at least has watched the recent Dunkirk movie – doubt that the British population would have been immeasurably safer and better off in the short term had we made peace with Nazi Germany rather than fighting on alone after the fall of Europe? And looked at through a purely economic lens, how many years of subjugation beneath the jackboot of a fascist regime would have tipped the scale and suddenly made it worth fighting for freedom after all?

This time, the choice before us is nowhere near as difficult, and the trade-offs nowhere near as severe. Even if this incompetent government mishandles Brexit as badly as sometimes appears likely, bombs will not fall from the sky to level our cities and destroy our cathedrals. This is not to understate the effect that a mishandled Brexit negotiation could have – any uptick in unemployment or decrease in economic activity is highly suboptimal, with real human consequences.

But there are negative consequences associated with failing to safeguard our democratic institutions and fundamental liberties too, though they often seem remote or even irrelevant until suddenly they are both present and irreversible. Those who have been on this good Earth for a few more decades than Jonn Elledge perhaps appreciate this fact more readily.

Our politics has become increasingly consumerist in recent years – the politics of me me me. And unfortunately we now have a young and poorly educated millennial generation – my generation – who see politics only through the lens of what they can get for themselves in terms of perks and opportunities. This makes them particularly vulnerable to any old charlatan who comes along spewing EU propaganda suggesting that the European Union is the only reason that they are able to “live, love and work in other countries” (to use their nauseating phrase du jour).

Ultimately this is yet another total failure of the pro-EU Left to remotely empathise with those on the other side of the Brexit argument. It represents a colossal failure of imagination to sincerely believe – let alone publish in a major national political magazine! – that a generation of parents and grandparents who scrimped, saved and sacrificed to raise their families now want to cause them harm merely to warm themselves in the glow of imperial nostalgia as they enter their twilight years.

And yet this is what Elledge, the New Statesman and countless commentators on the Left would have us believe. Frankly, this haughty and arrogant attitude is more dehumanising of its victims than that of the xenophobe who may believe that foreigners are good people, but simply doesn’t want them in his country – at least there is still the outside possibility that they vaguely respect the other.

I’ll say that again, lest there be any doubt or confusion – by holding this vile opinion, Jonn Elledge, the New Statesman and anyone who concurs is worse than a garden variety xenophobe.

A society which does not respect its elders cannot long endure, and these puffed-up millennial moralisers seem determined to drive us into the ditch as fast as they possibly can.

 

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Even Remainers Who Accept The EU Referendum Result Are In Denial As To Why People Voted For Brexit

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The EU referendum was not a question of “head vs heart”. When Remainers pretend that they occupied the intellectual high ground, they only delay their necessary and inevitable reckoning with the will of the British people

Remainers simply cannot help themselves. They cannot stop being arrogant and condescending toward Brexit voters, even when making otherwise admirable attempts to extend the olive branch and accept the nation’s verdict on leaving the EU.

Here’s Rachel Reeves MP, writing in the New Statesman:

Two days before the referendum, I visited the largest private sector employer in my constituency. I had spoken to many of the workers during the general election campaign a year earlier.

Although the chief executive works with a community centre to recruit local young people, like many businesses they also hire many Eastern European workers. It was a tough audience, as many blamed the EU for the squeeze on living standards and most felt immigration was out of control.

The people I met believed leaving the EU would mean less pressure on services and more money for them, because the downward pressure on wages would ease with fewer EU migrants.

[..] I knew in my heart at lunchtime on the day of that visit that we’d lost the referendum. My head had told me – the economist – that we would win because the consequences of leaving were a risk voters wouldn’t take. But, by Friday morning, we knew the Leave campaign’s emotional message was stronger than the rational arguments of the Remain campaign.

My emphasis in bold.

And there it is again – the infuriating “head vs heart” conceit, beloved by Remainers, that they unquestionably held the intellectual high ground when it came to arguing for Britain’s continued membership of the EU, and that the only reason for their defeat was that the base emotions and fears of Brexiteers somehow clouded their rational judgment and (to quote Lincoln, since Reeves tries and fails to do the same) shut out the “better angels of our nature”.

According to this cognitive dissonance-soothing rationalisation of defeat, Remainers were unquestionably right to warn of economic armageddon, and the economy was the sole worthwhile measure on which an existential question about national identity and democracy should be determined.

If this is the fruit of the Left’s attempt to understand Brexiteers (and we know it is, because the bottom of the article states that “This blog is based on a chapter Rachel Reeves MP wrote for the Fabian Society edited collection Facing the Unknown: Building a progressive response to Brexit“) then they have done an unspeakably lousy job.

The immediate post-referendum polling clearly showed that the strongest driver of the Leave vote was widespread concern about sovereignty and democracy:

The biggest issue, according to Lord Ashcroft’s post-referendum poll, was the overwhelming desire to preserve what remained of British sovereignty.

In “How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday … and why,” a survey of 12,369 voters in the United Kingdom conducted the day of the referendum, Lord Ashcroft found the No. 1 issue propelling people to vote “leave” was their belief that the U.K. should remain a self-governing entity not responsible to some supranational body writing rules and regulations about the economy and other matters.

Not hankering for a return to the 1950s.

Not an acute discomfort with dark-skinned people or eastern Europeans.

Not “Daily Mail lies” about curved bananas.

The people of Britain voted to leave the European Union because a majority of us quite rightly refused to accept the false claim that close and fruitful trade and cooperation with our European neighbours is somehow only possible by subsuming ourselves into the relentlessly integrating EU superstate. They were smart enough to realise that an organisation with a parliament, flag, anthem and ambitions for a combined military force has its sights set on something much grander than “friendship and cooperation”, and quite rightly wanted no further part of this doomed experiment in euro-federalism.

What’s more, the Brexit-voting people of this country were enlightened and dedicated citizens enough to see through the hysterical scaremongering propaganda of the Leave campaign, and accept that even if there were some short-term economic costs associated with Brexit, the Remain campaign clearly value our country and democracy too cheaply if they would remain part of a European political union through fear of a potential recession.

Were there oddballs, cranks and racists among the Leave campaign? Yes, of course we had our fair share. But the Remain campaign had Eddie Izzard, so let’s not tar an entire side based on its worst cheerleaders.

Look, I get it – daring to consider that one might have campaigned hard on the wrong side of history must be immensely difficult. The emotional investment of Remainers in their worldview, rhetoric and “identity” as super-progressive, tolerant and all-round awesome people is very strong and hard to see past. But if anyone should have the capacity to move beyond their own intellectual comfort zones it should be our elected MPs, people like Rachel Reeves. Sadly, there is little evidence that many are doing so. Nor will there be, probably, until a couple of decades’ time at which point warnings of economic cataclysm will have been taken over by events.

It is good that Rachel Reeves and some others at various points on the left-wing spectrum, Jeremy Corbyn included, recognise that the EU referendum result must be honoured and are reconciling themselves to the will of the people. But it is one thing to accept the country’s verdict while still sanctimoniously proclaiming that the people were manipulated and hoodwinked, and quite another to reach deep inside for some humility and admit that the people may actually have been right all along.

Nobody expects the Labour Party and other Remainers to make the transition overnight. But well-meaning articles like this from Rachel Reeves suggest that the majority have not even begun the urgently-needed process of reconciliation to the national will. And that is a real concern, for their own tenuous future political careers if nothing else.

 

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Enough Carping About Gender Pay Inequality In Sports – End Segregation And Let The Market Determine Wages

Olympic Games - Rio de Janeiro - Gender Pay Equality - Sports - Athletics

As the Olympic Games get underway in Rio de Janeiro, in place of the usual social justice nonsense about gender pay equality here is a bold proposal to make gender equality in sports a reality

As Olympic fever starts to build in the run-up to the opening ceremony of the Rio summer games, the New Statesman is distracting itself with a long meditation on why female athletes are usually paid far less than men.

Tim Wigmore ponders:

In March, male and female cricket teams from across the world descended upon India, where the men’s and women’s World Twenty20 competitions were played simultaneously. The International Cricket Council funded all the men’s teams to fly business class, but only paid for the women’s teams to fly economy class.

The integration of the men’s and women’s tournaments only highlighted how differently competitors were treated. The total prize money for the men’s event was $5.6m – 16 times the $400,000 for the women’s tournament.

[..] Women’s treatment in sport has always been a manifestation of wider gender inequality and, as sports evolved and professionalised, became self-perpetuating. The huge funding disparity between male and female sport means that women have had fewer opportunities to play sport, have suffered from inadequate coaching and facilities compared with those enjoyed by men, and have been paid meagre sums, even for playing international sport. This has damaged the quality of sport – and therefore the attractiveness of the product to fans and broadcasters – in two ways. Those that have played have often not been professional, so had less chance to hone their skills; and the lack of financial rewards mean that many leading players have retired prematurely.

Women’s sport has been shaped by administration being almost exclusively a male preserve. This explains why, from 1928 to 1960, women were not allowed to compete in races of more than 200 metres, because it was felt that running for longer made them too tired. It took until 1984 for women to make up one-fifth of competing athletes in the Olympics.

But surely if we are going to look at issues of funding at the school and amateur level (Title IX issues, to an American audience) then we should be more animated about improving equality of opportunity at the grassroots rather than tearing our hair out because Serena Williams (a millionaire many times over) is paid less than Roger Federer?

If we could drop the leftist insistence on equality of outcome then it might be possible to have a meaningful discussion about precisely how the issues raised  by Tim Wigmore (inadequate funding, male domination of sports administration bodies etc.) actually filter through in terms of take-up of sport and the technical levels achieved. And we could then consider if measures should be taken upstream to address the gender disparity, and what (if any) role the state should play in correcting the imbalance, considering that this is supposedly a time of “austerity”.

But time and again the discussion seems to drift back to the question of prize money awarded at top professional events, which is frankly ridiculous. Wigmore continues:

Yet the most lucrative sports remain far away from equalising renumeration. Even in sports with equal prize money for marquee competitions, there are often huge discrepancies lower down. In tennis, Novak Djokovic, the men’s number one, earned twice as much as Serena Williams, the women’s number one, last year – although both won three of the four grand slams, the less prestigious men’s tournaments pay far more than the women’s events. In football the differences are even starker: there was £22m in prize money for the last men’s football World Cup, but only £630,000 for the women’s tournament.

The differences are far greater in club competitions, in which women’s teams have struggled to gain a following. The total attendance for the last season of the Women’s Super League was 57,000; for the Premier League, it was 13 million. The stark discrepancy explains why Steph Houghton, the best-paid female English player, earns around £65,000 a year, while Wayne Rooney receives £300,000 a week. Similar forces are at work in professional basketball in the US: last season, the maximum salary for a female player was $109,500; for men’s players, the minimum salary was $525,093, and the maximum $16.407m.

Wigmore answers his own question here by citing the attendance differentials between the men’s and women’s leagues in British and American football (soccer). The gulf in public interest between the two leagues is huge (even if unjustified – one of the most entertaining football matches I have seen was a women’s game at the 2012 London Olympics). If we are to break the link between popularity and pay, why should the link between talent and pay not be similarly abolished? Why not pay every football player, male or female, a flat salary regardless of which league they play for and which position they play in? If teams can no longer set wages based on value added then we essentially end up with communism.

If more people watch the male version of a sport (generally because it is played at a higher level in terms of physical capability and endurance, if not technical skill) then surely this should be reflected in the prize money awarded? Prize money, after all, comes from ticket sales and television revenues and commercial opportunities. If male players draw in a disproportionate amount of total revenue, why should the fruit of their labour be redistributed to women?

Equal Pay Sports - men and women

The New Statesman even concede the point here (my emphasis in bold):

The greatest cause for optimism is in the rising quality of female sport: the gradual increase in spending on women’s sports is now being reflected in a product that more spectators want to watch. When England Women played Germany at Wembley in November 2014, the match was a 55,000 sell-out. Dramatic improvements in the standard of women’s cricket led to the England team turning professional in 2014.

Rising quality. Dramatic improvements. These are blatant concessions that the current (or past) standard of female sport has in many cases not yet reached the level of the men’s game. But even if it did, and there was no discernible difference in terms of technical standard between men and women, why should privately owned sports leagues and teams be compelled to pay the same wages if attendance and viewing figures have not also equalised?

And here we are back to the leftist mindset of wanting to control how people think. Men and women are of inherently equal value, that much is indisputable. But the leftist believes that they must be equal in all regards and at all times, including in the outcomes they experience (such as prize money at top sports tournaments). And if the market does not value the women’s game as highly because the technical standard or endurance is lower, then the market (and the people who make up the market) are wrong and their views should be overridden in the name of equality of outcome. Until we all hold hands underneath a rainbow, singing Kumbaya and assigning equal worth to unequal products in the name of gender equality, the People Who Know Best must step in and set equal wages.

But when has the  coercive approach ever actually truly worked? When has it done anything more than patch over inequalities rather than truly removing them?

Would not the better approach to tackling “inequality” be for sports governing bodies to look at the potential for growth in the female game and then chart a practical, ambitious path to increase female participation and retention in the various sports from school and grassroots level upward, therefore feeding the pipeline with more future stars who would in turn attract more earned revenue?

The danger is that by doing what Wimbledon bosses did and unilaterally setting equal prize money for men and women (despite the fact that women play a maximum of three sets while men play a maximum of five in grand slam tournaments), we not only perpetuate an injustice (male players have to work harder for the same monetary reward) but we also take our foot off the pedal of change; we feel satisfied that we have “tackled” gender pay inequality before we have even looked at the systemic issues which create it in the first place.

So here’s a genuinely egalitarian idea (which the New Statesman will likely never go for, obsessed as they and nearly all leftists are with identity politics and competitive victimhood) – how about we scrap male and female segregation altogether and have mixed teams and leagues based purely on sporting ability and merit?

Sure, there would likely be fewer women than men on the field at, say, the football World Cup, but those who did take the field could say without dispute that they earned their place and their (equal) prize money. In some cases (or at least in some positions in team sports), women may even possess an advantage over men and drive them out of the top leagues and pay grades altogether. Why not find out?

When it came to racial segregation, those fighting for equality through history never satisfied themselves with “separate but equal”. The racist Jim Crow laws had to be fought and overturned and the Civil Rights Act passed in order for the American Founding Fathers’ decree that “all men are created equal” to be deepened and fulfilled in practice as in spirit. Why should we settle for any less when it comes to gender discrimination?

In the workplace, the just cry from those campaigning against pay discrimination is “equal pay for equal work”. So let’s make it a reality in sports. No more bleating for unfair privilege (equal pay for less-watched female athletes, playing at a lower technical level). If we are to be truly blind to gender, let us abolish gender segregation in professional sports altogether, and let women compete with men for places in clubs and teams, and for the top rankings in integrated professional leagues. And let every one succeed according to their merit.

But of course the leftists and the Social Justice Warriors don’t want that. They don’t want people to be blind to race or gender or any other characteristic, but rather want us to exalt in our identities as variously oppressed minority classes. The SJWs derive all their power from policing the boundaries and arbitrating the disputes that inevitably arise from the very toxic culture of competitive victimhood they perpetuate – and if we strip it away then they, together with the entire equality industry, suddenly lose their raison d’être.

But all people are created equal. So let us do what we can and what we should to ensure equality of opportunity in sports (commensurate with interest and good sense), and then end gender segregation in sports to unleash the world’s best female athletes to compete at the very highest level of the game. That would be the egalitarian thing to do.

Let anyone who opposes this step now come forward and explain why they believe women are too fragile and vulnerable to thrive in integrated sports, and why they should continue to be patronised and humiliated by being given unearned equal pay in segregated teams and leagues.

Let the equality campaigners Social Justice Warriors come forth and make their tawdry, outdated and morally dubious argument for the status quo.

 

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The New Statesman Is Preaching Hatred And Fear Of Conservatives

Jo Cox Tolerance

Be tolerant and respect the sincerely held political views of other people. Unless those people happen to be Tory Scum…

Apparently, as we seek to move on from the EU referendum in the post Jo Cox era, we are all supposed to be more civil to one another and focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.

We know this, because the New Statesman high-mindedly told us so:

I believe the horrific killing of Jo Cox is a moment for this New Generation of us to speak more openly about what has gone wrong and how we must, collectively, tackle it. Fundamentally, I believe we must see this as a moment in our history to re-covenant our respect as a society for politics done well. Democracy can ultimately only be as good as the society it represents. We must all learn once again to value free speech and civilised debate, led by open, accessible and accountable Parliamentarians. We must pledge ourselves to continuing the fight for freedom, for tolerance and for understanding between individuals, nations and peoples. We must ensure that love, hope and understanding will always triumph over hate, fear and despair.

We must reject the politics of alarmist language, personal attacks and fear.

A noble sentiment which surely we can all take to heart – it should certainly be possible for all of us to watch our rhetoric in the heat of debate, as none of us benefit from the current toxic political climate.

So why, then, is the New Statesman now actively trying to whip its readership into a quivering fear at the prospect of Andrea Leadsom winning the Conservative Party leadership contest and becoming prime minister?

Having apparently forgotten their own edict to respect people with different political views, the New Statesman instead lists nine reasons why its readers should be terrified – yes, terrified, that emotion which would be more appropriate if masked intruders had just smashed down their front doors – by this relatively unknown politician.

From “9 reasons you should be truly terrified of Andrea Leadsom becoming prime minister“:

With polls suggesting Andrea Leadsom will be one of the two Tory leadership candidates put to a vote of the members, it’s only natural to be curious about what this potential prime minister believes.

Luckily, she’s been busily keeping a blog for the last decade.

It turns out she has strong views on babies’ brains, and thinks she may have discovered the secret to preventing a repeat of the riots which plagued London in 2011.

So far they seem to be trying harder to make Leadsom seem ridiculous than terrifying.

There then follows a list of generally banal and uninteresting statements which Leadsom has made, or policy positions which she has taken, including:

1. Gay couples to the back of the adoption queue

Back in 2009, Leadsom used an adoption case – in which the two children of a heroin addict were given to a GAY couple (!?!?) – to question just when enough is enough when it comes to gay rights. “And if that weren’t enough, the two strangers are a gay couple, who have been selected ahead of several heterosexual couples.”

and

2. Watch out for those single parents

In 2006, she wrote that “the child of a single parent family is 70 per cent more likely (than the child of a two-parent family) to have problems at school, and even to become a drug addict or a criminal.”

and

3. And that anti-marriage media

“The self indulgence and carelessness of non-committed adult relationships is proving fatal to the next generation,” she wrote in 2008.

and

5. Those baby-brained rioters

“I explained how secure attachment or parental love literally hard wires the baby’s brain,” Leadsom wrote in 2012.

and

6. No money for wind farms

“I completely welcome the announcement from the European Commission made recently regarding the possibility of ending all subsidies for winds farms,” she wrote in 2014.

and, particularly ludicrously

8. Those US presidents getting invites before us

“How can France be hosting the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings with Sarkozy and Obama (neither of them a twinkle in their father’s eye in 1945) in attendance, and yet the Queen of Britain, Canada, and Australia (who was not only alive, but who also served in the war) was not invited until two weeks ago?”

Now, one can disagree vehemently with one or many of these points. This blog certainly does not share Andrea Leadsom’s reflexive opposition to gay couples adopting children, for example. But sincere political disagreements on social, cultural and economic issues – the full range cited throughout the New Statesman’s tawdry hit piece – should be possible without us becoming physically afraid of one another.

Yet the New Statesman presents these rather pedestrian conservative positions and then exhorts its readers to be “truly terrified” by what they see. The magazine does not encourage them to challenge the validity of Leadsom’s views, much less offer its own point-by-point rebuttal. The fact that Leadsom is wrong is taken for granted, which is bad enough, but worse still is the fact that the New Statesman seeks to provoke an emotional rather than an intellectual reaction.

This is exactly what so many commentators (including that magazine) were telling us we should not be doing in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox MP. Less than a month ago we were being told to respect one another’s opinions and engage in calm, rational dialogue. Yet when it comes to confronting conservatives, many opinion leaders on the Left are more than happy to provoke angry, confrontational responses – whether they take the form of hateful mobs outside the home of Boris Johnson on the morning after the EU referendum or articles instructing people to actively fear conservatives.

This is an exclusively left-wing phenomenon. While there are plenty of nasty, stupid reactionaries on the conservative side, rarely do they treat left-wingers as a physical or emotional threat. The murderer of Jo Cox, to the extent that he was motivated by politics rather than madness, is the great exception to this rule. The Left, by contrast – particularly that part of the Left which has been captured by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics – are starting to treat anybody who does not agree with and actively validate their ideas as enemies, literal enemies who mean them harm. If this atmosphere persists, how long will it be until some mentally unstable left-winger, taught by the commentariat to believe that political disagreement is akin to an act of harm, lashes out at an opponent with potentially tragic consequences?

One way or another, we are all going to have to coexist on this island – at least, those of us who are not bizarrely reacting to the Brexit vote by flouncing off to independent countries without an NHS will still have to deal with each other. Treating half of the country as actively dangerous people of whom we should be terrified is about the least conducive thing to bringing about that spirit of tolerance, and the New Statesman should be ashamed for its part in feeding this atmosphere of hysteria.

And look at some of the things which the New Statesman wants its readers to be terrified about. Andrea Leadsom celebrated the potential end of subsidies for wind farms – how scary! Leadsom wants to invest in “psychotherapeutic support for families struggling with the earliest relationship with their baby” – why, she’s just like Genghis Khan! She didn’t take kindly to President Barack Obama interfering in our internal EU referendum debate, and dared to say so – what an awful, America-hating isolationist!

The disbelieving hysteria which greeted Ed Miliband’s 2015 general election loss and now the 2016 EU referendum result shows that much of the modern Left is already utterly incapable of empathising with those holding other viewpoints – and in some cases simply cannot conceive of their existence. Time and time again we hear tearful sob stories from disappointed lefties that they don’t understand how they lost, because everyone they know voted the “right” way.

But with tawdry articles such as this, the New Statesman seeks to turn that gulf of incomprehension into a gnawing, corrosive and dangerous fear of conservatives, and of any ideas outside of the insular leftist orthodoxy. And this could potentially be disastrous for our country, not to mention for individual conservatives currently being demonised as terrifying, two-dimensional cartoon bogeymen rather than thinking, decent people who just happen to have a different outlook on life.

So how should we respond to opposing political views in the post Jo Cox era? Here’s a tip for the New Statesman and everyone else in the media:

If your article encourages people to learn more about those opposing views, or presents an intellectually grounded rebuttal of them, then you’re doing it right.

If your article is a smug, self-satisfied and fundamentally uncurious exercise in confirmation bias, designed to delegitimise and vilify the sincerely held political views of others, then you haven’t learned a damn thing.

 

Trigger Warning

Top Image: Herald Scotland

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