The Women’s Equality Party are doing us all a favour by trying to oust Philip Davies

Even if Sophie Walker does not win Shipley, she will no doubt spend the following seven weeks shining harsh light on MP Philip Davies and his growingly bizarre ‘neutered male’ persona

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The Independent Online

Much like the Spanish Inquisition, no-one expected the Feminist Parachute Regiment. Their chief weapon is surprise; surprise, strident thought and sensible shoes. Shipley’s MP Philip Davies found this out over the weekend on learning that Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party plans to stand for election. Davies claims to welcome his rival “parachuting herself” into the West Yorkshire seat of Shipley, which he won with a 9,624 majority, bringing her “politically correct agenda”. I’ll guess Davies’ welcome was a rather half-hearted one. The sort of welcome one might reserve for an insomniac cousin arriving for the holidays wearing a one-man-band ensemble including knee-cymbals. Things are going to get noisy and unignorable, for a long time, and not in a positive sense.

As a weary political onlooker, it’s moments like these that keep me sane. If elected, Walker said she would be a “voice for all women” in Westminster. Philip Davies, Walker says, has “a track record of misogyny” and furthermore, she feels his election earlier this year to the Commons equality committee was “a national embarrassment”. Even if Sophie Walker does not win Shipley, she will no doubt spend the following seven weeks shining harsh light on Philip Davies and his growingly bizarre “neutered male” persona.

MPs clear way for general election on 8 June

Davies for those not following his voyages into men’s rights activism has become illuminated in recent years on the issues of male suicide rates, male educational underachievement and the treatment of male prisoners. So far, so good, one might think. These important issues demand political scrutiny. Yet at this point, Davies’ stuffed-shirt philanthropy falls flat, because his blame for these social problems lies, in the main, with feminism. Davies, like many male activists, suspects that men are killing themselves largely because of women’s progressive freedoms and selfish needs and, furthermore, women don’t care anyway. All the wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends, one supposes, are unmoved by suicide weighing it up against their flighty freedoms to take the pill, earn money and be educated.  

Meanwhile, the men’s rights activist believes boys education is failing due to, yes, female teachers, female-favoured policy and females at home not giving two figs what happens to their sons. And our prisons are in a critical state, Davies believes, but what riles him is that female prisoners are treated, in his belief, better. What I find so sad and poignant about the men’s rights activist, whom I meet all day long on social media, is that in the heart of their ire, is a nugget of soft, thoughtful, touchy-feeliness, gone very awry. How brilliant, one might think, in 2017 that we are all talking – royals, public and MP’s for Shipley alike – about depression, mental illness and suicide? Oh, hang on. No this is women’s fault again. The average men’s right activist reminds me of myself and my baby brother in 1977 arguing about Lego. “But she’s got it all, look, look at her!” he’d scream, as I calmly tried to build a humble tower with my more or less equal, hard fought over, share.

Regardless of one’s feelings on the Women’s Equality Party, it’s arguable that the people of Shipley deserve better than Philip Davies. This is a man so intoxicated by his beliefs on bad women and positive discrimination that earlier this year, Davies was accused of trying to block a Parliamentary Bill that would force the UK to sign up to the international Istanbul Convention on preventing domestic violence. Davies appeared to do this by making a series of long speeches in the House of Commons. Imagine this for a moment, Davies, the same as all cognisant British people possibly sees the same news reports day on day of violence against women. The stalkings, the slayings, the angered, jealous exes who won’t hear no. The escalating police visits stymied by the law’s seeming lack of power in preventing bloody, jarring, often fatal incidents, which, with hindsight, were bound to happen. The deceased’s face in the paper. Another day, another woman. 

But domestic violence happens to both men and women, Davies argues. And this proposed Istanbul Convention ruling was about domestic violence, not plain violence. Davies argues that as domestic violence happens to fewer men than women, this makes men “a minority” who are uncovered by this unfair bill. This bill was not gender neutral! Davies could not support it. He appeared on the Today programme this morning, in light of Sophie Walker’s “parachute” arrival in his seat, to argue he was right about the Istanbul Convention. Davies was not purely putting lives at risk for the sake of pedantry and attention. I look forward to 8 June. Never mind the ballots, the feminist parachute regiment are coming.