It is general election time in the UK. That’s means that parties have to produce manifestos. The Labour one was leaked in draft form yesterday, because Labour MPs can’t resist any opportunity to fight each other in public. The Conservatives haven’t issued one yet, presumably for the same reason that Theresa May is hiding from the public: they don’t want anyone to know what they plan to do. The only thing that the Tories think is important enough to want to announce in advance is that they want to scrap the ban on fox hunting. I think that tells you all you need to know about their priorities.
Today the Women’s Equality Party issued their manifesto. HQ came up with a great PR wheeze too. One of the core principles of the party is that WE want to put ourselves out of business. If the other parties were to care as much about women voters as they do about men there would be no need for a Women’s Equality Party. So our policy director, Halla, took copies of our manifesto around to the other major parties and invited them to steal the contents for their own manifestos. The LibDems and the Greens said thank you very much. Even UKIP, sorry, I mean the Conservatives who just happen to have policies to the right of UKIP these days, said thank you very much. Labour refused to accept their copy, because they can’t resist an opportunity for a PR disaster when one comes calling.
You can find our manifesto, and a brief summary of key points, on the WEP website. I just want to quote one small part of it. This is from page 3, where WE define who WE are:
Our policies aim to recognise and address the fact that many women experience additional inequalities due to the intersections of socio-economic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, immigration status and gender identity. WE also recognise that the binary words “woman” and “man” do not reflect the gender experience of everyone, and support the right of all to define their sex or gender or to reject gendered divisions as they choose.
I note that I had nothing to do with crafting that, other than giving workshops at Conference last year and chatting to part leaders while I was there.
There are, inevitably, a few bits of the manifesto that I would like to be slightly different. That’s inevitable. One of the things that many online activists don’t seem to understand is that if you want a political party to agree 100% with your views on all subjects then you will end up in a party with just one member. People refusing to vote for left-ish candidates because they are not ideologically pure enough is one of the things that has got us into the current mess we are in. (Lack of proportional representation is another major issue, but that’s a whole different blog post.)
On the other hand, by stating that WE are trans-inclusive from the start, WE don’t need to hedge about statements later on. All statements about gender equality automatically accept trans women as women, and include more than two genders. So well done whoever wrote the manifesto on that score.
The manifesto doesn’t make any explicit promises with regard to trans-related legislation. However, Labour, the LibDems and the Greens are all on board with that, and with only 7 candidates WE are not going to be forming a government. I’m sure our MPs will support such initiatives when they are brought forward, because the core philosophy of WEP is that equality is better for everyone. That means WE are beholden to support new equality legislation.