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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Andrea Leadsom courts the 'backwoods' Tories

Those of us who have been saying for some time that Leave campaigners such as Nigel Farage want to turn back the clock to a fictional 1950s and a gentler, whiter Britain have been proved right with the campaign that their cheerleader, Andrea Leadsom is now running to become the next British Prime Minister.

Like Farage and company she seems to want to take us back to an imaginary world in which we all lived wholesome lives, went to church on a Sunday and dominated the international stage. Of course the Brexit vote has undermined any chance that we will be a dominant economic force for some time.

The Guardian is particularly cutting about Leadsom, picking up on The Times exclusive in which she claimed she would be a better prime minister than her Conservative leadership contest rival, Theresa May, because she has children and May does not.

Even by Tory standards that was an unacceptable jibe given that the Home Secretary has spoken at her regret that she and her husband cannot have kids.

Is Andrea Leadsom saying that it is only parents who can be trusted with the country's future? Is she saying that childless women (I presume she is okay with childless men) are less capable than mothers and less empathetic?

Her campaign team have form on this. As Jonathan Calder points out on Liberal England Andrea Leadsom's campaign manager, Tim Loughton told Tory activists in September 2013:

"The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather. Which was a bit difficult because she didn't really believe in family.
"She certainly didn't produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that was a huge disappointment."

Loughton later told the BBC that he would apologist to Teather.

Elsewhere in the Guardian we learn that Leadsom is opposed to equal marriage, wants to stop women working for small businesses taking maternity leave and being able to sue for unfair dismissal, wants to do away with all regulation relating to employment rights for full and part-time employees (75% of part time workers are women), and she is anti-abortion.

Despite being a government minister at the time, she promoted the bill on sex-selective abortion proposed by the Tory MP Fiona Bruce – a move that threatened to move the burden of criminality from doctors to pregnant women.

Here we have a leadership contest that will produce only the second female Prime Minister this country has ever had and one of them wants to turn back the clock on women's rights. No wonder that Carolyn Hitt in the Western Mail wants us to move beyond the gender of female politicians.

Who would have thought that the progressive choice in a Conservative leadership contest would be Theresa May?
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