UK feminists spurn second female prime minister … Theresa May’s new Lord Chancellor knows nothing about the law … All-Ireland referendum gathers support … US veterans start shooting American cops … Crashing bores continued ….
LONDON, July 22 – The adverse response by UK feminists to Theresa May, Britain’s new Tory Prime Minister, marks the emergence of a new political maturity in Britain’s feminist movement.
When Margaret Thatcher was elected the first female PM in 1979, non-socialist feminists erupted in joyous celebrations. For many of them the revolution had arrived.
However, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in Berkshire in 1981 soon dented the middle-class euphoria. Women from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, France, Germany and Scandinavia descended on the Ministry of Defence site to oppose Thatcher’s plan to install US Cruise missiles directed at the Soviet Union.
A year later Women Against Pit Closures joined picket lines, marched, raised money and collected food for miners who were being starved into submission by Thatcher and the National Coal Board.
Finally Thatcher’s villainous regime ended in 1990 when her own party chucked her out of office amid a revolt against her poll tax.
Working women, retired women and women students had taken direct action against Thatcher’s regime and, in the process, the emerging women’s movement had learned invaluable lessons about class politics.
Because she has made no secret of her dry conservatism, Mrs May has been denied the worshipful response given to the Iron Lady. As a result, the Lavender Lady now at No 10 has been treated either sceptically or critically.
One of her first decisions was to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change (a leaf out of Tony Abbott’s book?). She also flagged a toughening of UK immigration rules to appease England’s xenophobes and racists.
The founder of the Tory Party’s Free Enterprise Group, she voted for the UK war in Iraq and later in Syria and when asked to take more child refugees in 2013 and 2015 she refused. Channeling Australia’s Peter Dutton, she said that children would need to be screened twice before entry because they might be terrorists.
She chose her first outing in the Commons to table a motion committing the UK to building four nuclear-armed Trident submarines at a staggering cost of $200 billion.
Asked if she was prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that would kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, she jumped rather too enthusiastically to the despatch box to exclaim: “Yes.”
It was a chilling moment and one that will be played and replayed down the years.
A feminist bookshop in North London has captured the New Politics with a T-shirt carrying the message: “Women are from Earth, Men are from Earth – Get on with it!”
Last week Prime Minister May appointed 40-year-old Tory MP Liz Truss to be the first woman to hold the 1000-year-old position of Lord Chancellor.
Truss has no legal experience and her appointment prompted the resignation of junior justice minister Lord Faulks who argued: “Is she going to have the clout to be able to stand up to the prime minister, for the rule of law and the judiciary … without damaging her career? It is a big ask.”
Former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, was more direct: “Truss has no experience or gravitas and gives every impression of only wanting to climb the greasy pole.”
As Home Secretary for six years, May’s political judgement was often questioned but she was given broad media support because – think of her Australian counterpart Philip Ruddock – she was prepared to do “the dirty work” on immigration.
She once claimed that human rights laws had allowed an asylum-seeker to avoid deportation because she owned a cat. The story was a complete fabrication. (Dutton again?)
After sacking David Cameron’s loyalists, chiefly Old Etonians and Hooray Henries from the Notting Hill set, Mrs May turned to a Second Division team of chancers to fill her first ministry. On cue, enter Ms Truss.
A United Ireland?
Ireland’s conservative Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, has re-aroused nationalist passions by suggesting that a referendum on Irish unity may be unpostponable.
He was speaking after the north of Ireland voted in the EU referendum (along with the Scots) to remain in Europe. In England and Wales there was a majority for the Leave campaign (Brexit).
Kenny, the head of Fine Gael, said the wishes of the northern Irish majority (55.8%) had to be recognised. He said that a referendum throughout the country, north and south of the British-imposed border, should decide whether Ireland should be a full member state of the EU.
He likened the situation to the reuniting of East and West Germany after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. (“Get Ready for a United Ireland”, Irish Independent, 19 July 2016).
A united Ireland is the founding mission of Sinn Fein, the nationalist party led by Gerry Adams, and the north of Ireland’s deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) said the entire island should now be able to vote on reunification.
A poll to create a 32-county republic had become a “democratic imperative”, McGuinness added.
The chief obstructionists are the usual suspects: Westminster, absentee landlords from the English aristocracy and right-wing Protestant leaders in the north.
Unsurprisingly, Ulster’s current First Minister Arlene Foster, an avowed Paisleyite, has shot down the referendum proposal and she even vetoed Kenny’s plan for an “All Island Forum” talkfest.
Just hours after his appointment as the new Tory Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire quickly dismissed an all-Ireland referendum as an answer to Britain’s Brexit vote.
But the truth of the matter is that the all-Ireland genie is now out of the bottle and there is a feeling on both sides of the Irish Sea that it is a proposal whose time is fast approaching.
US vets v US cops
Two black American army veterans who served with distinction in Afghanistan have returned home to become cop killers.
Who “groomed” them to kill white cops? The Taliban? ISIS? Or did army life in Afghanistan send them crazy?
In America, US veterans and local cops are lionised as heroes. Hundreds of TV series are made about brave, honest and inspirational cops. And not a day goes by without a politician or a Washington official paying tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of “our boys in the war on terror”.
So what happened when two war heroes turned into terrorists and murdered blue uniformed heroes? Mass confusion swept the political and media classes: they didn’t know what side to take because the vets and the cops are both elemental parts of the “good guys”.
America suddenly became aware that army-trained marksmen who legally own guns in their homes had executed cops from the ‘hood, where racism in rampant. More significantly, many African Americans quietly supported the vigilante soldiers: the war heroes who had suddenly become anti-heroes were their heroes.
There is racial disharmony in the army as well as in the cops. The racism is a reflection of US society. Montrell Jackson, the only black police officer killed so far by an army veteran, posted a Facebook message shortly before he was gunned down saying: “I swear to God I love this city [Baton Rouge], but I wonder if this city loves me.”
This week a Harvard research paper showed that blacks and Hispanics were 50% more likely to be punched, kicked and baton-bashed than whites during encounters with police.
So who and what are to blame? Is it a case of war-damaged veterans turning into vengeful lone wolf killers? Or is it the fault of brutalised cops whose savage behaviour towards minorities is out of control? Or are guns the problem?
The only thing we know is that the guns have come out in support of the non-violent movement known as Black Lives Matter. It is a new stage in America’s homicidal craziness: normally upright citizens are so alienated and “left behind” that they are killing each other in an atmosphere of fear, panic and paranoia.
Manila Maniac latest
President Rodrigo Duterte, the Filipino answer to Donald Trump, has vowed not to honour the UN Climate Change Agreement signed in Paris last December.
The government of his predecessor Benigno Aquino signed the agreement along with 195 other countries but Duterte declared: “I will not honour that.”
He also dismissed criticism of the random execution of drug dealers which he introduced following his inauguration in June. Rejecting the International Commission of Jurists protest, Duterte boasted: “I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin.”
Meanwhile his police chiefs have unveiled a giant electronic billboard in Manila broadcasting a tally of drug suspects arrested or “neutralised”.
But hey, Duterte supports Washington’s strategy of encircling China with warplanes, aircraft carriers and submarines, so there won’t be any condemnation from Canberra. He’s on “our side”.
Great Bores 6
Those lockout laws for pubs are terrific. They should tighten them – no drinks after 10 o’clock and no live bands either. In my day the pubs had very strict regulations and there was never any trouble. They used to call it the Six O’clock Swill and it worked perfectly. Okay, there was the occasional punch-up and you might have to smash someone over the head with a bottle if they got out of line. We had some trouble with the Abos and the Reffos … they couldn’t hold their grog … but the cops always left us alone to sort things out, and we did. Of course, there were no sheilas or poofters in pubs in those days. They should bring that back too.
Quote of the Week
What do you call three dogs and a blackbird? The Spice Girls.
– Liam Fox, Theresa May’s choice as Britain’s International Trade Secretary