They’re reactionaries who try to hide racism in their election material under the guise of protecting British workers (in spite of openly stating that they will attack workers rights such as unfair dismissal claims). They are aiming to clean up the disenchanted working class vote that traditionally may have supported other far right parties, the Tory right, or even Labour, even though their infamous former leader is actually a public school educated son of a stockbroker with just as much of a sleazy expenses back-story as the Tory establishment his party brand themselves as a breath of fresh air from. Meanwhile Paul Nuttall, their current leader and Stoke PPC (currently under investigation from the police over allegations of electoral fraud) is about as enlightened on women’s rights as he is a sartorial advert for the hunting and fishing look. Stoke is a place I have very fond memories of after my year of studying there, and the potteries is also a place with a proud history of women trades unionists. Women made up the majority of the potteries workforce and local heroines include the indomitable Harriet Ann Kidd, who walked from Stoke to Liverpool (in a bit of a reverse version of this year) to confront an arrogant MP who had tried to thwart her in her fight for women’s rights. I am off the Stoke this weekend to join the campaigning and I thought I would update my post giving information on what UKIP mean specifically in terms of women’s equality.
1) Their Euro-representatives don’t support women’s right to equal pay
Equal pay for equal labour – years into the feminist movement we still don’t get it, and this year the pay gap is on the rise for the first time in years, standing at over 15%. What are UKIP offering us in terms of taking this on – after all, whatever conservatives think of pornography or abortion, the right to equal pay is surely something all our politicians are behind?…
Wrong. In a European parliament resolution on equal pay for male and female workers, the entire UKIP contingent either didn’t turn up or abstained from the vote.
2) They think working mothers are worth less than their male counterparts
Why not vote in favour of equal pay then? Well, if you look at the beliefs behind their voting behaviour it turns out they think there are strong reasons why men are worth more – women’s right to take maternity leave for example, which according to Farage is damaging for city employers who will see drops in the client base etc. Apparently there is no discrimination against women in the city (as a white man he is obviously best placed to comment on whether it does or doesn’t exist) and it is only really biology which is against women – if they are prepared to fight their urges and resist the breeding they can be just as good or even better than men.
3) They want an end to equalities discrimination legislation and paid maternity leave
As mentioned above, UKIP are pretty hot on spinning themselves as the natural representatives for the working man (to be fair to them, it usually is working “men” not women in their propaganda). However their policy includes the intention to end equalities discrimination claims – the pesky European insistence that we can’t sack people or pay them less for being women, black, disabled, gay etc. They also want to attack paid maternity leave, presumably under the grounds that women should at that point be hot-footing it back to the kitchen permanently any way.
4) Paul Nuttall’s dismal track record on women
Like the awful Godfrey Bloom before him or the locker-room-talk champion across the Atlantic, Paul Nuttall should be treated absolutely as a threat to women’s rights.
He has expressed a keenness to limit abortion rights to 12 weeks. This is an act of complete ignorance, given that 90% of abortions take place in the first trimester, and ignores the common reasons for the very small number of abortions which take place after this point – extreme foetal abnormalities and risk to the mother’s health or life. Not only does Nuttall fail to consult with medical knowledge or women’s life experiences in forming his views on abortion, he has also advocated the position that we should not have advertising material guiding women on reproductive choice.
He has also defended sexist comments, openly attacks women’s rights to chose what they wear, and of course represents a huge threat to women along with everyone in his cavalier approach to NHS privatisation. Women are statistically more prone to health problems, have less financial assets to secure health in a privatised healthcare system, and make up the majority of the NHS workforce which is already close to breaking point under austerity.