The Tory Party began their conference in Manchester today. And one of the themes for the week will be the role of women in the Tory Party. In fact, in today’s Sunday Times, David Cameron apologised to women for his behaviour in the past which had been misunderstood. New Man Cam admitted making a ‘terrible mistake’ in parliament by using words that could have been interpreted as being sexist – the “Calm down, dear” slight to Maria Eagle and the “frustrated” innuendo towards Nadine Dorries. (If you want to line Murdoch’s pocket, you can read the article behind this paywall).
I saw this cartoon recently and it made me think that this is how it has been for several generations in all major parties. Hopefully, though, this is now changing. Labour in Brighton and Hove has had Gill Mitchell as its leader for almost 5 years, the former Conservative Leader of the Council was Mary Mears, and all four candidates from the major parties at the last general election in Brighton Pavilion were women.
Which brings me on to one of my favourite Tory women of all time, the universally popular Charlotte Vere. Chuck managed to find a way to upset so many of her opponents in Brighton Pavilion, but she was nevertheless an awesome candidate. I am sorry she moved onwards and upwards following her defeat. Brighton is a poorer place without her. After her defeat she was a leading light in the very successful ”No” campaign against the pathetic Lib Dem proposals for voting reform. No doubt she will get a safe(r) seat at the next general election and will prove to be a very effective Member of Parliament (regardless of what you think of her politics).
Chuck is part of a new breed of Tory Ladies, feisty and independent. And we should recognise that the Conservative Party has changed. Gone are the days when (as quoted yesterday in the Guardian profile of another feisty, independent Tory woman, Louise Mensch) an aspiring Tory candidate was asked what her husband would do for sex if she was away in London for 3 nights each week.
Chuck’s latest recognition comes in a profile in the Huffington Postwhich begins “Charlotte Vere is not a feminist, thank you very much. The former Conservative candidate and mother-of-two last shaved her armpits “this morning” and she’s definitely wearing a bra.” Too much information already, but this profile, which has the serious intent of exploring the Conservative Party’s (and specifically David Cameron’s) approach to women. Chuck is quoted as saying: “The Prime Minister needs to change policy urgently and apologise for what he has been doing not just what he’s been saying.”
Chuck has always been something of an Action Woman and has now set up Women On, a new think tank, an “independent, non-partisan think tank that aims to transform the debate around women. Women On … researches the issues facing women today, and promotes ideas and policies which enable all women to reach their full potential – economically, socially, culturally and politically.”
I wish her well (although I think it is a shame she treats the word ‘feminism’ as a dirty word). I hope that she can link with other women who are interested in seeing an end to the “Miss Triggs syndrome” which, after all, is as relevant today even if it is done far more subtly!
Filed under: Politics | Tagged: Brighton, Calm down, Charlotte Vere, Conference, Conservative, David Cameron, dear, feminism, Gill Mitchell, Guardian, Huffington Post, Louise Mensch, Manchester, Maria Eagle, Mary Mears, Nadine Dorries, Pavilion, sexism, Tory, Women On | 5 Comments »