Britain’s liberal left are enjoying gleeful outrage at the story of a “heavily pregnant MP”, Tulip Siddiq, who was allegedly told she “was bringing down whole of womankind” for taking a break from parliamentary debate, as the Evening Standard emotively put it.
The only problem is that rather than the perpetrator of this heinous insult towards womankind being a man who “just doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a woman”, the villain of the piece is female Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing who, quite frankly, has a very good point.
Ms. Laing’s crime was to have held Ms. Siddiq – who has spent her pregnant time in Parliament trying to ban Donald Trump from the UK – to account for breaching House of Commons convention which states that ‘After you have spoken [in a debate] you must remain in the chamber for at least the next two speeches’.
Ms. Siddiq left for a forty minute “comfort break” after her own speech – widely seen as an insult towards other Members. Had she applied to the Chair to leave, rather than just tossing centuries of convention out of the window, the row would have been averted, but Siddiq told the Standard that the situation showed the conventions are “outdated”.
What is concerning about Ms. Siddiq’s response is that it speaks to a wider trend, adding to similar charges by feminists to the alleged “masculinity” of Parliament which in order to get a “gender-equal” House of Commons will apparently need to be totally transformed.
A Mumsnet survey from 2014 which was much discussed at the time, reported by the Guardian under the headline “Britain’s Parliament is sexist, masculine and out of date say British women”, found that 97 percent of respondents believed the political culture is “sexist”.
With the “physics and maths culture” of engineering apparently also being sexist, the University College London (UCL) made the pioneering move of dropping requirements for applicants to have ‘A’ Levels in those subjects in order to foster further “gender equality”. The media duly fawned on the apparent trebling in applications from women, but there has yet to be an update on the success of this.
Apart from it being fascinating that although women outnumber men by a third at university, the only subjects which apparently need “equality” forcing on them are the few that are taken by more men than women, it seems alarming that people think nothing about reshaping entire fields so that they can be more “inclusive”, that word, in the feminist definition, meaning employing fewer men.
Margaret Thatcher as both chemist and politician, at a time where governments and “charities” were not expending vast amounts of money and effort with schemes to entice women into these fields, made it precisely because she was capable, and went on to become one of the world’s greatest heads of state.
By telling Siddiq, “You’ve made women look bad. People will think that women can’t follow the conventions of the House because they’re pregnant,” Deputy Speaker Laing was making point that when women say they can do the job every bit as well as men they must prove that with their actions.
In 2013 there was outrage as Godfrey Bloom, then a UKIP MEP, reaffirmed the sentiments behind controversial 2004 remarks that “No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of childbearing age”, explaining why and calling it a “perfectly straightforward small business policy.”
Looking at Ms Siddiq – who got pregnant around the same time she became a Member of Parliament… think about that… around the same time she got the go-ahead from left-wing voters in Hampstead to receive £65,000 a year from the tax payer – can anyone really think Bloom was wrong?
Many small businesses operate within very small margins and while they can claim most maternity pay back from the taxpayers there are matters such as the difficulty of finding suitable temporary workers, filling skills and knowledge gaps and lack of continuity that will simply send some businesses to the brink.
Even on Mumsnet, the influential parenting website known as a hive of right-on feminism, the majority of respondents to a discussion about the cost of maternity leave to small businesses point out the incredible damage the pregnancy of an employee can do to a business.
While Ms. Siddiq was probably horrified at Bloom’s words, along with her peers, her actions played into such perceptions which is why Ms. Laing held her to account.
Women keep insisting that they are every bit as good as men and blanching at anyone who suggests otherwise, yet just repeating this does not suffice. That they must prove it with their actions, yet this seems to have sailed over Ms. Siddiq’s head where, in an age of identity politics, thinking is optional.