Rise of the Right, Human Rights in USA & Europe

Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 BBC
Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 – BBC

From Trump and Pence to Marine Le Pen, the so-called “alt Right”, UKIP and Brexit, there has been a seeming lurch to the right in European and western politics with reactionary policies called for including Burka bans, immigration repatriation, attempts to overturn abortion rights and bathroom laws, and a trans rush in America to get gender markers and names changed before January, and fears of what may come. (Discussion 6 December 2016, Norwich Library)

LGBT Rights reversal by Right Wing?

Is this an irrational fear? India, Russia and Uganda, have already shown that LGBT gains can be reversed. Every single member of Trump’s cabinet opposes LGBT rights (Pink News) Who are the people around the president-elect (BBC)

Trump’s “message of resentment, anger and fear turned out enough of those voters for him to move past Clinton in key Midwest states and win an electoral college victory. From that, Trump will almost surely take the lesson that he doesn’t need to reach out to anybody; he can win by appealing only to his rabid base.” – Washington Post

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Tom Price, one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of abortion, as health and human services secretary has drawn immediate condemnation from reproductive rights and public health groups.

The city of San Francisco has passed a resolution vowing to resist any backslide on LGBT rights under the Trump administration.

Europe: Austria, Italy, France, Sweden…

Europe Left and Right - New Stateman
Europe Left and Right – New Stateman

On Sunday, Austria’s Norbert Hofer was nearly the first far-right head of state in western Europe since WWII.  In the end, a re-run of the election in which a previous vote was tied with a narrow 30,000 challenged majority actually resulted in a 53/47% victory for the Green-Independent candidate.

“Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”. The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.” – Guardian

Interestingly, Austria saw the centre-Right and centre-Left candidates lose in the first round, instead seeing a polarisation of the vote around far-Right and independent-Green. Is the future of politics? A rejection of establishment, traditional parties including liberal-centrist in favour of a new politics, the so-called rise of populism. These new ‘extremist’ parties favour nationalism over immigration and may blur the lines of Left and Right, cutting across and drawing support from the whole political spectrum, as UKIP has done in the UK. They are anti-status quo and have recently seen the “sad death of liberal Britain“.

Right Turn Only Road SignSlovakia has seen its far Right party gain its first seats in 2016, with 8% of the vote and 14 seats. Interestingly, Left and Right parties opposed immigration. Immigration and asylum has been championed by Liberal-Greens across Europe but increasingly opposed by the Left and Right during times of austerity.

Sweden’s Democrats have seen a significant rise in support 2006-14 and are characterised by anti-immigration and anti-indigenous, pro-heterosexual nuclear family ideals. Same-sex adoption is opposed with forcible married heterosexual adoption if children of LGBT parents are orphaned.

Reports have shown that a majority of far and new Right supporters are working and lower-middle class men, often less educated and economically insecure, with traditional heterosexual masculinities feeling threatened by the diversification of national culture by Islam, immigration and LGBT minorities.

A re-developing divide is also that of rural versus urban, with diverse cities integrating their differences whilst rural populations become entrenched around their traditional populations.

“Economic anxieties [only] go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose” – Intelligence Squared

Left and Right parties in Europe 2015
Left and Right parties in Europe 2015 – New Statesman

Across 39 European countries and English-speaking Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – right-wing parties are in power in 30 of the 43 countries, 4 more than before the 2008 financial crash when anti-capitalist feeling should have been on the rise. Is Europe swinging to the right?

Alt Left

And then there’s the Alt-Left – “a subset of liberals in America who think differently than the regressive left. We tend to be pro-free speech / anti-safe-space, anti-Islam, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, anti-SJW, and a plethora of other things.”

Revolutionary Communism

The Left’s advocacy of LGBT rights “has a long and mixed history“. Early 20th Century Communism, it should be remembered, was a part of its pre-millennial milieu. That said, Russian Communism undid the laws of the Tsarist regime, and early German Communism and Socialism advocated for gay rights whilst the Nazi National Socialist party oppressed them. Stalin, re-introduced criminal charges for gay men. Obscuring clear analysis is the fact that for some, homosexuality was considered a pervasive practice of the aristocratic classes and not that of the working man.

Some have pointed out that Left and Right do not naturally fall into good or bad, liberal or oppressive, camps. For instance, this graphic is narrow and simplistice in its presentation of the political spectrum:

The Political Spectrum
The Political Spectrum – Woody.Typepad

Some on the Left have wistfully remembered the health and education policies and stand against the US and Apartheid of Fidel Castro. Yet, Castro, also, had issues with LGBT people, their country being decades behind others in giving LGBT rights, before then they could end up in hard labour camps, exiled or killed. Castro proclaimed homosexuality incompatible with revolution and looked only to “real men”.

A phrase that has resurfaced with the football abuse scandal and darts player MBE, Eric Bristow taunting victims as not “real men”, who would stand up to their abusers.

‘White Power Barbie’ v Hillary Clinton

Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton
Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton

America’s Democrat Left put all their hope in Hillary Clinton and women in general to save the US from a Trump victory, yet 52% of white women voted for him. One female Republican, Tomi Lahren, has been called the “White Power Barbie” and has millions of views, supporting the Right.

The Tyranny of the Majority v Minority

What are the fears of minorities, women, LGBT, etc with regard to the Right and is it fair to selectively remember history and ignore the far Left’s similarly anti-minority views? Or to assume that women are more open-minded or liberal-left than men?

How do we vote when party manifestos cut across multiple issues, rights and policies, is there a hierarchy of rights when no one party espouses them all? What can we do to protect, mitigate and stand up for minorities during more repressive times, if that is what is to come. Are LGBT, among other, rights culturally interpreted and either victors or victims depending upon whether their status is seen as a class, religious or political correctness issue, rather than one of human rights?

Contrary to expectations, and ‘no-platforming’/’safe space’ politics extremist groups able to participate in mainstream debate tended to move away from extremism over time, or to eventually lose support, e.g., the BNP in the UK.


Sex, Gender, Politics, Leadership and the EU

Is Leadership, political, religious and journalistic, too male?

What has the EU done for sex/gender equality, opportunity, and protections? How were the Leave and Remain campaigns dominated by “blokeish” male political and media voices and yet female candidates are now more to the fore in post-Brexit party leadership challenges? If women were allegedly more likely to vote Remain, and yet makeup over 50% of the electorate, how come they voted 52% Leave? All the political parties, even UKIP, could have women at the helm by October. Would female voices have run the campaigns any differently? Were male voices more prone to exaggerating facts and fears? Some religions and states still argue that “leadership is male” and “women should be silent” following only the vote of their husbands, brothers or fathers, if they are even allowed to vote at all. 60% of Christians voted Leave and 70% of Muslims voted Remain.

Discussion in Norwich Library, Tuesday 5 July, 6-7pm

Blokeish Masculinity & Male-dominated Politics

“The twin curse of masculinity and male-dominated politics helped create Brexit”

“Women will decide the EU referendum – so why [were] the campaigns so blokeish?”
Evidence points to a potentially significant difference between men and women when it comes to their views of the EU and the referendum:

  • Women were almost twice as likely to answer ‘Don’t Know’ in most EU referendum polls.
  • Women were less likely to say they are certain to vote in the referendum: 43% of men are certain which way they will vote, whether that’s ‘In’ or ‘Out’; that drops to just 29% of women.
  • Women are considerably less persuaded by UKIP, and have been less likely to vote for them. When asked how much they trust a series of different politicians when they talk about Britain’s membership of the EU, 41% of men say they trust Nigel Farage, but only 31% of women agree.
  • Intriguingly, evidence suggests that women may be more Eurosceptic than men, and more difficult to persuade to vote for Leave.
  • There are divergent patterns among different women voters: younger women are more likely than younger men to vote Remain/Left; older women are more likely than older men to vote Leave/Right.

Women’s Silence or Absent Focus?

“women’s voices have been depressingly absent…Women’s voices have not been heard anywhere near enough in the macho standoff that has passed for a campaign” – Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid

“This was a horrible campaign; an argument that until the final days of the referendum campaign was conducted largely between white middle-class men, with ill humour and little understanding of voters’ disenfranchisement” – Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party

Although the WEP were largely silent during the Referendum campaign, only writing about it after the fact.

“…a referendum campaign in which women’s voices were woefully lacking…” – Sophie Walker

“Considering they make up a slim majority of the British population, women have been notably marginalized in the EU referendum debate. The repercussions of Brexit for them as a demographic have scarcely been highlighted. As a group, women wield 1 million extra votes more than men in the June 23 referendum, yet the male-dominated Leave and Remain camps have done little to explain what either eventuality could mean for the livelihoods of the other sex…polling data compiled by YouGov [suggested] that 53% of women favour leaving the EU. However, only 68% of women said they would definitely vote in the referendum, as opposed to 75% of men. According to British Future, twice as many women as men prefer to say they don’t know which way they will vote.” – RT

“Women are more likely to say they don’t know. This is an ingrained feature of public opinion research. They are also slightly less likely than men to support Leave.” The Independent

Make your mind up!

Are women more or less likely to back the EU?

In the end, it seems a majority of women voted Leave by 52% to 48%, just like men, so was there no gendered difference? Probably there was, with younger higher-education women more likely to vote Remain and older women more likely to vote Leave than similar men.

“Neither side in the EU debate seemed that interested in women. The campaigns largely felt like men talking to one another, and a cursory glance at a debate on the matter in the House of Commons might still back that up: Europe seems to turn men on in a way it doesn’t for women. The campaigns feel rather blokey too…Even at a grassroots level the debate is rather heavy on the boys.”

“Tory minister Priti Patel claimed that “Women for Britain are fighting for the same cause” as Emmeline Pankhurst. This didn’t go down all that well with Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline’s great-granddaughter. She claimed the suffragette leader would have “been the first to champion what the EU has meant for women – including equal pay and anti-discrimination laws”.” – The Guardian

“there can be no reneging on the legislation prompted by membership of the EU that – while creaky in places – has done much to enhance the lives of women workers.” – The Daily Telegraph

On equal pay, on maternity leave, on unfair dismissal, it was the EU that forced the UK to extend those rights to all women and not just some. They also pushed for full protection from sexual harassment in the workplace.

“membership of the European Union has brought benefits for women – and particularly for women escaping violence and abuse…The EU has also done important practical work…to support the eradication of violence against women; this has been championed and prioritised by the European Parliament. This work includes the European Protection Order, the European Victims Directive, and the Lisbon Treaty…the majority of EU member states have developed national strategies and action plans to address VAWG (Violence against Women and Girls)…largely thanks to the EU… It funds EU-wide networks, such as the European Women’s Lobby and Women against Violence Europe(WAVE)…Forget house prices: this is about human lives.” – The Daily Telegraph

Are women’s views and input considered of less value than men, are they by default, less heard? Do they make better decisions?

Why Aren’t More Women in British Politics?

Despite at one stage in 2015 there being 5 female leaders, and a larger tranche of female MPs than ever before, the loudest and leading voices on Brexit were male.

“An unprecedented high of 191 women MPs (29%) were elected to the House of Commons on 7 May, an increase of 48 from the immediate post-2010 election results. At one stage during the summer, five of Britain’s main political parties were led by women – including interim party leaders Harriet Harman (Labour) and Sal Brinton (Liberal Democrats).” – PSA

And yet, Theresa May is leading the pack for Tory leader and Andrea Leadsom coming second, invoking the spirit of Margaret Thatcher and God in her ambition to be Tory leader.

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour – ‘The Women Are Coming
Quentin Letts and Laurie Penny discuss the rise of women in politics
“Theresa May is the favourite to be the Conservative leader, Angela Eagle has put name forward to take over Labour, and we already have a female First Minister in Scotland with Nicola Sturgeon. In Europe Angela Merkel is still the one in control and let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton could be US President by the end of the year. So, is this time finally the time for women politicians?”

Not to mention Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and the possibility of Suzanne Evans (UKIP) post-Nigel Farage.

GAS Sex, Gender, Leadership and EU Politics
Are women’s voices and views ignored in politics and the EU Referendum?