Lindsey German on family values, the perils of Nato and state oppression
Well, we can say one thing about this election – we’ve found out exactly what Boris Johnson thinks about working class women and their families. And it really isn’t pretty. In fact, he seems to have utter contempt for working people – something that hopefully they will reciprocate in the ballot box next week – as well as a series of attitudes to women which mark him out as what we used to call in the 70s a male chauvinist pig.
The news that he thinks children of working mothers in working class families are likely to ‘mug you on the street corner’ and are ‘unloved and undisciplined’ will be met by screams of outrage across the country at this privileged idle rich man parading his prejudices for all to see. The latest follows another attack on single mothers, where he described their children as ‘ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate’.
Single mothers and many others have queued up to tell Johnson exactly what they think of him, and quite right too. These are women bringing up children in the most difficult of circumstances and who find that even when working they don’t have the money to feed or clothe their children properly, let alone afford the expensive holidays, posh cars and luxurious houses that are taken for granted by Johnson and Co.
We should not assume these are simply cheap insults from Johnson. They reflect a politics and mentality which has the most demeaning attitude to women and which despises the working class overall. Johnson’s remarks make clear that women’s main role – unless they are prosperous and highly educated – is in the family, caring for the home and bringing up children. He refers to them as being ‘socially gestapoed into the workforce’, suggesting that women have been forced to go to work rather than stay home.
Most evidence shows that women want to work outside the home, but they just don’t like low wages, zero hours contracts, expensive childcare and the double burden which still affects women disproportionately. That’s what makes us all tired.
Johnson, like his friend Rees-Mogg (currently in hiding somewhere in deepest Somerset), believes women should be in traditional roles, subordinate to men, and having to see their lives as centred on family. Women today reject this. They are not going back into the home but the attitudes of these rich Tories is about scapegoating them, blaming them for any failures on their children’s part, rather than looking at the problems of a society which is failing its children on a gigantic scale.
Any self-respecting working class woman shouldn't dream of voting for Johnson. But he has contempt even for women of his own class. Just before he became leader, police were called to his home during a domestic with his partner. His alleged former lover Jennifer Arcuri has described callous treatment from him. And he doesn’t appear to know how many children he has.
What a cheek to go on about other people’s families
Thieves and warmongers fall out
Talking of fallouts, the Nato conference sounds a miserable affair, despite the money lavished on the world warmongers. Trump did his routine of berating other leaders of not providing more money to occupy, invade and kill. It was Canada’s turn this summit, and Trump is also annoyed with France’s Macron over his remarks about the military organisation being brain dead. The summit ended in a fudge over a number of the divisions, including conflict with Turkey who wants more support in crushing the Kurds in Syria, and who in return was reluctant to support Nato expansion in Eastern Europe.
We should recognise these continuing conflicts for what they represent: a sign of the growing problems of imperialism, with the US declining as China’s military and economic influence grows. Into this unstable situation, throw in a whole number of heavily armed military powers each with their own interests and you can see the difficulties for this supposedly defensive alliance. Turkey’s recent operations are an illustration of this. As is Macron's outburst as he tries to provide an alternative pole of attraction for a European military force.
So the day ended with Trump refusing to hold a press conference, calling Trudeau two-faced and heading back to the US. Don’t think he’ll be able to rein it in for much longer.
Police deny right to protest
The demonstration in London against Trump and Nato on Tuesday night showed the range of opposition, with thousands marching to Buckingham Palace. Or at least trying to. The police behaviour was totally obstructive from beginning to end. We stopped the traffic in Trafalgar Square to allow a rally to take place and then marched down the Mall towards the palace. Halfway down the police kettled thousands on the march allegedly for our own safety (do they think we’re really stupid?) but obviously to deny us the right to demonstrate while Trump et al were going in.
It didn’t stop the demonstration, but that was its aim. That can only have come from the very top, either the US security forces or Downing Street. Probably both.
A shameful denial of the right to protest.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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