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Sarah Ingham is author of The Military Covenant: its impact on civil-military relations in Britain.
The Left’s longstanding problem with women endures. Since the late 19th Century, it has run through the movement like a stubborn old stain, defying all attempts to get rid of it.
Eleanor Marx (1855-98), daughter of Karl, was a Victorian-era social justice warrior. But at Socialist League meetings, it wasn’t her male comrades who organised the refreshments and got the windows cleaned.
If female members in the local associations of today’s Conservative Party are expected to roll up their sleeves and do the donkey work, they can at least comfort themselves that three Tory women have reached Number 10.
One, however, never thought she would get there. Margaret Thatcher’s interview to a local paper is cited by historian Dominic Sandbrook: “There will never be a woman prime minister in my lifetime; the male population is too prejudiced.”
Five decades later, Conservatives must fight the prejudice which has recently surfaced against all women – from the leftist champions of identity politics.
A culture war is raging, and perhaps the most bitter battle is between the rights of women and the supporters of the rights of men who claim they are transgender. And just as in any war, a side must be chosen.
Back in September 2001, President George W Bush was clear: “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” For almost 12 months, the United Kingdom has unequivocally been on the side of Ukraine. In the battle to uphold the rights of women, the choice is equally binary. You’re either on the side of women and girls – or, if not, why not?
It is time for the Conservative Party’s members, MPs, and ministers to put beyond all doubt who they support.
We must put an ocean of clear blue water between Conservatives and the misogynistic SNP/Labour/LibDem/Green alliance for whom the rights of male rapists identifying as women trump those of women.
The Pacific is not big enough to separate right-thinking people (big R and small) from those who demand male perverts are given a free pass into female changing rooms.
The regressive, sexist mess in which the country’s women currently find themselves is the result of the unforeseen consequences of Labour’s 2010 Equality Act, mixed with an unexpected by-product of the Cameron Government’s 2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act and a soupçon of French post-structuralism.
First, the Equality Act added to existing anti-discrimination legislation with the introduction of nine “protected characteristics”, which included sex and gender reassignment.
The impossibility of reconciling these two conflicting claims has led to much of the wrangling over the rights of women versus the rights of transgender people – seen in the recent row about all-female care at the Princess Grace Hospital or in ongoing controversies about gender-neutral loos in schools.
Contentious a decade ago, same-sex marriage today is unremarkable. Commentator Andrew Sullivan noted that with its adherence to commitment, stability and family values, it should be seen as a conservative measure.
It certainly symbolises the achievement of legal equality for lesbian, bisexual and gay (LBG) people, a cause for celebration, particularly for those who had campaigned for decades on this matter, not least one: Stonewall.
But following this success, the charity switched its focus. A headline on its website states “2015: Stonewall extends its remit to become LGBT charity and begins journey to trans inclusion.” Its commitment to the cause is made clear in recent annual reports to the Charity Commission.
Stonewall’s influence on policymakers is underscored by Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee in the ground-breaking report of 2016, Transgender Equality. “Before commencing the inquiry, we consulted informally with representatives of two key stakeholder organisations, Press for Change and Stonewall.”
The Report was the first to hype trans numbers – based on nothing but guesswork – stating “current estimates indicate that some 650,000 people are ‘likely to be gender incongruent to some degree.’” This meant 1,000 trans people in every constituency: MPs were likely to take notice.
Since about 2015, thanks to the effectiveness of Stonewall and other trans advocates such as Mermaids, transgenderism came onto, and stayed on, the wider public’s radar.
Women, however, became increasingly uneasy that their hard-won rights were being sacrificed to the trans cause.
To differentiate them from transwomen, women were redefined as “cis women”. Should they get uppity about transwomen invading their spaces – changing rooms, prisons, hospital wards, refuges – they were branded transphobic.
Also on the receiving end of a Two Minute Hate was anyone who queried whether social contagion might explain the surge in the number of children seeking gender reassignment at the Tavistock Clinic.
Subjected to the insulting label cis and shoved aside by allies eager to jump on the trans bandwagon, women are also expected to put up with linguistic gaslighting.
Interviewed in September 2021, Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that claims only women have cervixes was “something that shouldn’t be said.”
Last March, on International Woman’s Day, during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, could not define what a woman is. (Adult human female usually does the trick.)
The moronic mantra “transwomen are women” owes more to the likes of Jean Baudrillard (author of The Gulf War Did Not Take Place fame) than any understanding of objective reality which most of us might share. Transwomen are biological men. To claim otherwise is wrong.
As wrong as the guesstimates about the number of trans people, which some MPs have repeatedly asserted is around 500,000. The 2021 census found that, in England and Wales, 48,000 people identified as transwomen, 48,000 as transmen, and 30,000 as non-binary.
With founder members defecting from Stonewall, Mermaids under investigation, and the Tavistock Clinic being shut down, peak trans has probably passed.
Looking back, we might wonder what all the sound and fury of the past few years achieved, and whether policymakers’ time, focus and energy might have been better spent on other areas, such as childcare.
There are 46.5 million people on the electoral register, perhaps half of them women. You’re either with us – or with those on the left who can’t even bring themselves to define us.