Sadly only 1 in 5 (new/old) Labour MP’s had the courage of their convictions and to defy Harriet Harman’s whip and vote against the cuts. Cheerfully there were plenty of female MPs amongst the 48 ‘rebels’ but unsurprisingly leadership candidates Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendell both abstained.
As did former glamour model and Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities Gloria De Piero, which was particularly rich given that she had spent the run up to the election co-piloting Harriet Harman’s barbie bus telling anyone who would listen that women were bearing 85% of Tory austerity cuts.
Of course this dramatic headline grabbing statistic was only possible by exhibiting the sort of information basis that would make a Marxist economist blush. For starters she had to assume a savagely Stalinesque scenario where men are airbrushed out of the family unit entirely when it comes to counting tax credits and child benefits etc and, secondly, she (and the journalists who uncritically parroted her propaganda) had to willfully ignore any ‘objective justification’ notions that might serve to undermine and possibly completely reverse her argument.
For the uninitiated: The ‘objective justification’ test is used in courts to determine whether or not an action can be considered to be reasonable or fair, even though it can be seen to impact on one particular group disproportionately. In the case of De Piero’s austerity argument such a test is relatively easy to pass, which is why the we haven’t seen anyone trying to test her ‘sexism’ theory in the courts.
Indirect discrimination: Can occur where a crieria, practice or procedure is applied to everyone equally, but disadvantages people of a particular sex. For example, a requirement that job applicants must be six feet tall could be met by significantly fewer women than men. Indirect discrimination can sometimes be justified in particular situations.
Most obviously the reality is that 2 out of 3 public sector employees are female, so logically if everyone is being treated fairly you’d expect that more female staff would be affected by austerity downsizing. In fact the only way to avoid ‘indirect discrimination’ against female public sector workers would be to directly discriminate against the minority of male workers which would be both unfair and illegal.
Funnily enough no one in Labour mentioned that when they were charging the Tories with everydaysexism and they certainly didn’t mention the fact that, even when you exclude family benefits etc, women (as a distinct homogenous group) claim significantly more from the public purse in benefits than men and contribute significantly less back in taxes.
Sounds like the politics of #EveryDayDirectSexDiscrimination to me.
EYE is certainly not suggesting that women (as a distinct group) do not experience disadvantages or that the state does not have a duty to take steps to address this where it can. My point is that whilst last century women could be literally kicked out of government jobs when they got married, in reality anyone taking a neutral approach to public policy analysis (as civil servants are now legally required to do) will struggle to find one example where the state directly discriminates against women. The sad and increasingly stark fact is that the same can’t be said for men.
One of the most blatant examples of #EveryDayDirectSexDiscrimination in public policy can be seen in the current arrangements for government where we have an Equalities Office which actually excludes men completely from their own equality duty and establishes a gender advocacy gap that permeates throughout public service provision.
One explanation for this very direct form of discrimination is based on the popular perspective that being a straight white male in life can essentially be compared to playing a computer game at the lowest difficulty setting there is. Even if it were true that every woman experiences greater challenges in life than every man, it obviously does not follow that men and especially boys cannot be disadvantaged by specific public policies, especially if a predominately female public sector are ignoring them when considering their equality duty.
The public authority equality duty: is a duty set out in section 149 of the Equality Act. In summary, those subject to the general equality duty must have due regard to the need to: Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; Advance equality of opportunity between different groups; Foster good relations between different groups.
The duty aims to make sure public authorities think about things like discrimination and the needs of people who are disadvantaged or suffer inequality, when they make decisions about how they provide their services and implement policies
Ironically the current Minister for Women and Equalities, The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP is also the Secretary of State for Education which possibly explains why in an era when girls are outperforming boys at every single level of education, her most pressing concern has been to argue that this fact somehow supports the increasingly dubious equal pay narrative that her office takes a lead role in propagating.