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Jeremy Corbyn and the fightback against capitalism

Author:
corbyn 2

By Kaylen Forsyth

Content note: Reference to abortion

Even some weeks later, Britain is still reeling from the tidal wave of shock that was the General Election, which saw the Tories fail to secure a majority and subsequently scrapple for a deal with the DUP. Everything about this dreaded minority government screams danger. With both party’s ideals terrifyingly prehistoric, this is a massive step back for social progression in the United Kingdom.

The anonymity of the DUP in isles other than Northern Ireland means that a vast amount of their policies and principles remain unknown. So, to be clear, this is a party that rejects a woman’s freedom of choice. In fact, they go out of their way to actively oppose a woman’s right to an abortion. A former minister for the DUP once attempted to increase the sentence length for women who have abortions in private clinics to at least ten years. And that only scratches the surface of the DUP’s problems…

This is not a party I’m sure any of us want to see wield even the slightest trace of power. But alas, they now hold more seats in total than the Liberal Democrats, and now the initials DUP are going to move from arbitrary letters most people have never heard of, to letters uttered so often we switch over the television channel when we hear them.

A country led by Theresa May, with the DUP holding substantial influence also, seems a very dark country indeed… but hope streams through, and the face of hope is in every sense Jeremy Corbyn.

In the political climate of 2017 Britain, this is the fact: anything that is a knock for a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour, is a knock for equality. The same can be said, more positively perhaps, vice versa: anything that’s a win for Corbyn’s Labour, is more than likely going to be a win for equality too. And here’s why…

Capitalist thinking has infected every vein of thought. It has done so cunningly, so people do not taste the poison while they’re being fed it. Some even vote for this poison, believing it to be the antidote. Even progressive attitudes are at risk from this “pull the ladder up Jack and sod the rest” viewpoint.

Here’s an example: the rise of consumerism has seen a complete transmutation of popular feminism. Or perhaps, mainstream feminism. In some respect, the principles behind it have been diluted into something easy to swallow and marketable. Yes. That’s scary, when the power of capitalist and consumerist thought is so prevalent in society that women’s rights can be treated like a commodity. Owning a house so big that you have an entire room devoted to diamonds, and then maybe making a documentary on it, in the name of feminism, demonstrating your kick-ass independence and choice is actually not a good thing. It does not analyse societal hierarchies, it does not seek to reveal forms of injustice or power mechanisms- it does nothing. It’s empty and the only thing it reflects is ignorance and subservience to corporate power. Essentially it is feeding the system that is trying to bring us down, giving them the power to do so faster.

If the idea is being perpetuated that the perks of capitalism- which are only perks for an elite- can be called feminism, then we are perpetuating the idea that injustice can continue so long as a few people can own their room full of diamonds. What I’m saying is, this mainstream feminism is surely contradictory to the values it claims to cherish.

The ultimate result of this perpetuation is self-centeredness. Working together to eradicate other people’s injustices is buried beneath the belief that our own situation is the only one that matters. Everywhere, I see this notion of a Strong Independent Woman ™. That’s true. The generic idea of an independent, accomplished, feminist woman is underlined by capitalism. Louboutin heels, an executive job, Kylie Jenner’s lip kit on her mouth. Any other form of independent woman in the lens of mainstream feminism is viewed as a loser. It’s just not right. We have been manipulated into thinking the only option is to consume everything on the conveyor belt, lest fall behind the times. Isolation is the only consequence of this exploitation and it’s something to be fought against.

Where does the face of politics fit into all of this? We need a government that completely rejects this movement of individualism at the expense of humanity. For the past seven years, we’ve had a Tory government. People in power telling us valuing ourselves over community is exercising our freedom. Thus, when notions like this are being both realised and actualised, capitalist feminism flourishes, human rights become a commodity used by corporations, and we ignore the fact that society is unequal, that so many people aren’t eating tonight or tomorrow morning.

A Corbyn-led Britain would help to reaffirm the importance of community spirit, establish the significance of the equality of everyone, and hopefully wipe out the idea that it’s fine to thrive on a system that promotes using the destitution of others as a ladder rung to owning their very own room full of diamonds.

The rape clause: thoughts on Tory women in politics

Author:
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By Isla Whateley

Content note: discussion of rape and the law around rape

As a woman in politics, you are a minority. In both Westminster (UK) and Holyrood (Scotland) parliaments, about a third of elected politicians are women. Both the UK Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister are women, however, and some may say this is an ‘achievement’ for women and feminism. But this is not necessarily the case.

The Conservative government, led by Theresa May (the second ever woman Prime Minister), has just put forward changes to child tax credits. Child tax credits are part of the welfare system in the UK; a benefit that low-income working parents get. As a child in a low-income, lone parent family, I benefitted hugely from the tax credits that we received. They were introduced by the Labour government that were in power for 13 years, 1997 to 2010, for almost all of my childhood. Although I was an only child, there was no cap for the amount of tax credits you received based on the number of children you had. My mum and I have a lot to thank Labour for and we wouldn’t have been able to get by without it.

Fast forward to now. Theresa May and the Conservatives have put a cap on child tax credits to two children – the ‘family cap’. Sounds unfair, right? It gets worse. If you have more than two children, sorry, no welfare for you. Unless one of these children is a result of a rape. You are forced to disclose this if you want to receive this welfare.

First of all, this completely undermines and ignores the extreme trauma rape causes. Rape is a violent crime, and many survivors suffer from mental illnesses such PTSD, depression and anxiety as a result. The legal system is rigged against women and survivors – hence, rape is ridiculously under-reported and under-convicted. Imagine undergoing all of that, and then being forced to disclose this highly sensitive, traumatic information in order to put food on the table for your children. It is clear that no survivors, sexual assault charities or women’s organisations were consulted in the formulation of this clause. At best, it is anti-feminist and undermines survivor’s autonomy . At worst, it will result in death.

On April 25th, in the Scottish Parliament, there was a debate on this issue. Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, read out a letter from a rape victim and attacked Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, for being the only Scottish party leader to not have condemned the clause. Davidson, like May, is a prominent Tory and a woman. Neither of them seem to care about this.

So how did a government led by a woman let this go through? Sadly, being a woman does not equal being a feminist. This goes for politicians too. The Tories have actively pursued an austerity agenda since being in government, in order to combat the deficit, and there is extensive evidence that austerity disproportionately affects marginalised groups. This most definitely includes women – who are most likely to be affected by the rape clause.

For me, feminism is intersectional and must represent all women – especially if they are single parents, rape survivors, or low-income. It is one thing having Conservative men promote the rape clause, but a completely different issue when Ruth Davidson refuses to comment. Her silence and inaction says so much more than words could – that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care enough to fight against this horrific injustice. In Scotland, we can’t do anything to stop it apart from lobby the Westminster government. Ruth Davidson is my local MSP, and I can say for sure that she represents survivors of sexual assault in this constituency. Her silence is abhorrent and very telling of the nature of many women Conservatives in the public eye.

Thankfully, many other Scottish politicians and activists are taking a stand. Two protests have taken place already – one in Glasgow, on Thursday 13th April, and one in Edinburgh on Thursday 20th April. At both, prominent campaigners and politicians spoke against the clauses, and hundreds of people turned up to show their support. There is a petition that can be signed here to bring further awareness to the issue, if you are a UK citizen. It is also important to vote against the Tories in the upcoming snap General Election – they are actively damaging to women and our rights. Register to vote here by 22nd May 2017!

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