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Friday, January 29, 2010

The real face of the Tory party?

The reported comments of David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouthshire that some communities had "imported backward, medieval and barbaric" views about women has produced a justifiable but predictable response.

In this morning's Western Mail the great and the good have quite rightly lined up to criticise Mr. Davies' views and to call on David Cameron to sack him as an MP. The views of two female politicians are particularly pertinent:

Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central said: "To make the suggestion that certain religions or communities are more prone to raping women because of their attitudes is very dangerous and I am disappointed that a Member of Parliament would make that connection with seemingly little evidence to back it up."

Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member Nerys Evans said violence against women knew no racial, religious or class boundaries.

She said the comments "do nothing to help the cause of victims of violence against women and serve only to reinforce racist stereotypes. These are incredibly irresponsible and inflammatory comments."

Personally, although I believe David Davies is absolutely wrong in what he has said, I hope that he is allowed to continue as an MP. That is because for all their protestations, Mr. Davies represents and serves as a reminder of, the unreconstructed Toryism that Cameron is desperately trying to eradicate from his party but which persists in surviving and flourishing amongst very large numbers of Conservative members. It is a reminder of how skin deep Cameron's reforms are.

That this is the case is best illustrated by the reaction of one Conservative PPC who sits on the left of his party and who very much wants the backwoodsmen to shut up. René Kinzett, their candidate for Swansea West tweeted his discomfort with the off-message remarks last night:

sorry, but why is David TC Davies MP such a flaming pain in the arse? Rape linked to race? Go back to selling tea

It is true of course that there are many barbaric views of women prevalent in our society but these are not limited to any community or race. There is no better way to illustrate this than through the conclusions of two reports commissioned by the Rhondda Cynon Taff Substance Misuse Action Team and produced under the NACRO Cymru banner, which I blogged about back at the start of this social media venture in August 2003:

The reports are full of sobering facts and it is impossible to convey the full flavour of them here, however I have set out some of the headlines that will make us all stop and think. The one that made me pause for thought was to do with alcohol. The report states that a recent 'quick and dirty' survey done by RCT police showed that whenever there is a Welsh International Rugby match, violence towards women doubled, whenever Wales lost it quadrupled and when Wales lost to England it was multiplied by eight.

As I later clarified:

rugby does not stand alone in this and in fact there was an element of unfairness in singling out this game alone. Binge drinking is associated with Friday and Saturday nights, most sporting events and many other occasions including hen and stag nights. It is not the event that is the problem it is the mentality that "getting off your face" is both hard and the cool thing to do. If we are to tackle alcohol abuse and reduce the level of violent crime accordingly then we have to deal with that culture and educate people away from the idea that prowess in holding ones alcohol (or not) is a suitable goal in life. It is not.

The fact is that violence against women exists all around us. It is not limited to any one group. Until we deal with its root causes then we will continue to get unsavoury and unacceptable incidents and no doubt the repeated off-message comments of David Davies as well.

Update: René has added to his comments:

@TomosL How can someone be so crass as to blame rape on ethnicity and be a serious-minded Parliamentarian in the 21stC?
If David Davies (with whom I seldom otherwise agree) used the words "some communities", as you write, rather than "some religions", then surely one cannot argue with him? Many of us have for a long time tried to get the media to distinguish between authentic religious edicts and the extreme interpretations which some tribes or regions have put on them.

- Frank Little
as a former doorman i can say assuredly that losing supporters of any team (footie or Rugby) do get more agitated and alcohol is the touchpaper to peoples emotions and its usually the mild mannered people or women that can get hurt. I've seen it time after time.
If we could try a prohibition for maybe two years in Wales i believe the positives would outweigh the negatives.
Of course this would be controversial amongst drunks but i am convinced it would be a positive step in tackling societies ills.
Frank, it was the reference to imported that is controversial. It implies that this is purely an ethnic and racial issue.
I agree, the implications of what he said is just as important at the actual words used. I don't like semantic arguments - what he said, how he said it and the obvious reaction to it is the important thing.

But David Davies' views as much represent the Conservative Party views as Jenny Tonge's crass statement that she could understand the motivations of suicide bombers represents the LibDems.
Why is the Swansea Tory Kinzett so uptight about David Davies? Is it because Mr Davies is not an aged person like his tiny Tory Group on Swansea Council and more so Mr Davies is a family man! Stick to Swansea and to saying that the many Ombudsman Reports about you are a "total joke" Mr Kinzett, Monmouth likes real men.
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