5 Reasons Self-defining Women Should Vote For Corbyn’s Labour 

Amy Hills-Fletcher

Last week, as has been a daily occurrence since the announcement of the snap general election, I was having a conversation with a woman about our voting intentions. Some way into this discussion, she asked tentatively,  “But doesn’t Corbyn have a bit of a problem with women?”

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, commentators on both the right and the liberal left have thrown the accusation of sexism around, citing arguments such as, “But none of the key positions in the shadow cabinet are held by women,” or, “Wasn’t it supporters of Corbyn who  threw a brick through the window of Angela Eagle’s office?” These newspaper sound bite arguments have consistently been used to undermine Corbyn, with no real regard for the truth – a brick was not thrown through the window of Angela Eagle’s office, and quite clearly, many of Corbyn’s closest allies and most important voices in his shadow cabinet are prominent women MPs, such as Diane Abbott (Shadow Home Secretary) and Angela Rayner (Shadow Secretary of State for Education).

What has all too often been the case is that those who are ideologically opposed to Corbyn, whether this be people on the Labour right, liberal commentators in The Guardian, or right-wing journalists, have used allegations of sexism against Corbyn and his allies as a political weapon.

As well as rejecting the smears that have been aimed at Corbyn, there are 5 good reasons to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour:

1) His voting record

Corbyn’s actions over the course of his career as an MP show emphatically that he is in fact a committed anti-sexist, who has stood alongside women in their struggle against sexism. He has consistently supported abortion rights, the rights of sex workers, LGBTQI+ rights and other issues that mainly affect self-defining women, and has voted accordingly in parliament throughout his career.

2) His support of the grassroots 

It is not just his voting record that is important, but also the way in which Corbyn and John McDonnell have supported women in grassroots campaigns throughout their careers, such as this meeting, which McDonnell hosted in the House of Commons last year.  If you are still in need of convincing, Corbyn was shown to literally be amplifying women’s voices when he did this during the election campaign:

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 16.49.03

 

3) His gender is not inherently an issue

There are some who suggest that Corbyn’s cis male gender identity somehow inherently means that he cannot work alongside and support women in the struggle for gender equality in the same way that a self-identifying woman could. We need only look to Theresa “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” May to see how easy it is to co-opt a radical liberation movement, and claim a “feminism” that is based solely on gender identity and not on actions. Sometimes, being a woman is not enough. We must reject the faux feminism of right-wing women who are pro-life, pro-war and pro-austerity yet claim to be “on the side” of women.

4) His policies

The cruel austerity measures that the Conservatives have over seen have disproportionately affected women, particularly mothers, who are bearing 85 per cent of the cuts. The manifesto that Labour has put forward has promised to put a stop to austerity and to properly fund public services through higher taxation on the 5 per cent, as well as through measures such as reversing corporation tax cuts. There is no question that women in particular will benefit from the manifesto pledges that Labour have set out, such as (to name just a few), free childcare for 2-4 year olds, halting cuts to women’s refuges, reforming the Gender Recognition Act, making LGBT hate crimes aggravated offences, and appointing a Violence Against Women Commissioner.

5) A progressive alliance will do nothing for women

The calls for a progressive alliance appear to come from a good place, but the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories in 2010 after saying emphatically that they wouldn’t – what’s to stop them doing exactly the same this time around? The Liberal Democrats may appear to have socially liberal policies, but Tim Farron has made clearly offensive comments about homosexuality and has not supported abortion rights (shown by his voting record). Any alliance that involves the Lib Dems should not be called progressive. We have a Labour leader worth voting for, why vote Lib Dem?

In this election, women have the opportunity to vote for someone who is committed to fighting for justice for all, and for a person who feels genuine compassion for members of our community living in poverty through no fault of their own. Corbyn is passionate, dedicated and, shockingly, seems to be a genuinely nice man.

Corbyn is the only truly progressive, anti-war, anti-racist and anti-sexist potential Labour Prime Minister we have ever had the chance to vote for, and he can win.

Register to vote by this Monday, and then, #VoteLabour.

 

Amy Hills-Fletcher

 

 

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Why it is time for Labour to place a truly anti-racist message at the heart of its politics 

Lily West

In support of International Women’s Day, I attended ‘Invest in Equality: End the Tory Austerity Assault on Women’, an event organised by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity (LAAA) and Momentum. The all-female panel condemned the Tories’ ideologically-driven austerity for the disproportionate effect it has on women and a discussion was then opened up to the floor. Although the event was a great success, unfortunately, as any woman, BAME person or anyone from a marginalised group will know, ‘the floor’ can often mutate into a hotbed of microaggressions which in turn makes you (understandably) live up to the ‘hysterical’ or ‘angry ’ stereotype that the white patriarchy has so conveniently used as another attempt to silence us.

Prior to this inevitable occurrence, it was refreshing to hear each speaker emphasise that WoC have shouldered the greatest burden of the austerity measures. Both Cat Smith MP and Sian Errington (LAAA) referenced the analysis from the Women’s Budget Group research which showed how poverty, ethnicity, and gender magnify the impact that austerity has on BAME women. In her message to the meeting, Dianne Abbot MP shed light on Labour’s commitment to ‘build upon current equalities legislation… after consulting on how we can best remove obstacles that prevent women, BAME people, and the disabled from reaching their economic potential.’ Maya Goodfellow, a Guardian journalist, stressed the importance for Labour to position an anti-racist sentiment at the centre of its policies to challenge and counteract the consistent erasure of WoC in the discourse around austerity.

Massive shout out to all these women. In a world where you can so often feel like you’re screaming into a vacuum because, whether the prejudice you’re experiencing is overt or insidious, there are still people who want to deny its existence – you made me feel as if someone was listening.

This ‘YAAS QUEEN’ moment unfortunately had to be cut short by the first hand that shot up during the open discussion with the panel. As I’m sitting there, shamelessly fan-girling and basking in the feeling of bittersweet glory that had arisen from the speakers powerfully acknowledging and condemning the variable experience of austerity’s severity depending on the combined interaction of one’s race, gender and income, my serenity is interrupted.

“I don’t really think there’s a need for race to be included in the discussion”, said (you guessed it) a white woman.

* Yas Queen moment is officially over. I’m back in the vacuum, screaming into silence.*

She goes on… “As we’re discussing women’s issues I think we should try and stay united on that front and not bring race into it as it often makes people uncomfortable or alienated and can become quite divisive.”

* My eyes are now seizing as they’re conflicted between rolling right back into the depths of my skull whilst also wanting to continue throwing copious amounts of shade all over this woman. *

It is not my intention to vilify this woman, but rather to shed light on the ubiquity of racial prejudice and how people of colour continue to encounter white people’s discomfort and often denial of racism in even the safest of spaces. Whilst it may suit us to assume that only the right-wing are capable of embracing racist rhetoric and implementing measures that bolster existing racial inequality, this is a misconception. We need only look back to Labour’s ‘control on immigration’ mugs to remind ourselves of the party’s ability to stray from their responsibility to encourage tolerance and diversity in Britain.

Racism is inextricably linked with our country’s history which is what makes it so pervasive and difficult to challenge. It speaks volumes that I was so elated by the speaker’s recognition of race playing an integral role in peoples’ experience of austerity. It shows that Labour’s reluctance to overtly speak out against racism has become so part of the fabric of our mind set that when they do, it causes a reaction. A party who is willing to call out racism should not be seen as refreshing or radical, and above all it should not make people feel ‘uncomfortable’.
After having heard a panel of women each recognise the necessity to look at austerity’s impact on women through an intersectional lens, this white woman still chose to ignore the facts presented to her so that she could unsuccessfully veil her own ingrained prejudice under the guise that race makes ‘people feel alienated and uncomfortable’. Whilst she was prepared to condemn the injustice of austerity measures having a disproportionate impact on women, she was not willing to look further and see that it is low income black and Asian women who are paying the highest price. Her apprehension to talk about race and inability to acknowledge her white privilege was disappointing and is something that BAME women hoped had been addressed several waves of feminism ago.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, where a white person dismisses racism as an issue, and it is the very reason why I want to thank Maya Goodfellow for emphasising that the Labour party position an anti-racist sentiment at the very centre of their politics.

In 2017 we have seen both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President, two successful campaigns that were plagued with racist rhetoric in order to prey upon and exacerbate existing prejudice. The argument that left-wing parties should resist identifying as explicitly anti-racist in order to be palatable and to avoid making (white or racist) people feel uncomfortable in order to secure their vote, is no longer good enough.

Politicians have a responsibility to challenge society’s ingrained prejudices, rather than avoid them in an attempt to remain popular. The fact that we have allowed racism to resurface as a ‘populist’ policy is a failure that has to be addressed. The reluctance to ardently speak out against racism is legitimising people’s prejudice, and allowing people, such as the woman at the meeting, to deny their white privilege.

The confused approach to Brexit and unchallenged concerns about immigration are serving as a vessel for voters to float away into the hands of the right. Labour’s current leadership HAVE to offer a strong, pro-migration message that destroys the divisive myths created by racist agendas, that exposes the attempts to scapegoat disadvantaged people, and that emphasises how integral immigrants are in our society.

Meanwhile, those of us who aren’t in politics have a responsibility to challenge racism when we see it, harness the enthusiasm that is being generated from current campaigns and channel it towards dismantling the current structures that nurture inequality. Those who feel like they ‘don’t see it’ and find it uncomfortable accepting that racism is still alive and well, there are a few simple things you can do: Listen to those who tell you they’ve experienced racism and try not to let your discomfort convince you that it’s a personal attack on you. We are not looking to you for an apology or to provide us with a solution there and then. Vocalising our experiences is an attempt to make you understand and help you open your eyes to see what (perhaps with good intentions) you do not want to see: a world so entangled in structural racism that it seems easier to ignore it than to be an ally and help continue to try and solve it.

Lily West

 

 

An Open Letter to Theresa May

Artwork by Alice Skinner https://www.instagram.com/whothafuckisalice

Dear Prime Minister,

You are due to meet with Donald Trump at the White House tomorrow. As I’m sure you are aware, you are also due to meet with a man who, whilst talking about women, was recorded saying: ‘when you’re a star you can do anything… grab them by the pussy.’ You are also due to meet with a man who called for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’ You are also due to meet with a man who in order to ‘fight fire with fire’ has justified the use of torture, such as waterboarding. You are meeting with A MAN who said that women who seek abortions should be subject to ‘some form of punishment.’

Whilst I, along with the millions of other people who took to the streets all over the world last Saturday for the Women’s Marches, continue to try and reconcile the fact that this man is the President of the United States, I urge you to consider the following:

We could waste our time talking about how the President has so admirably recanted and apologised for the comments mentioned above (never mind how they alone have helped legitimise islamophobia and misogyny), however, I think that employing an ‘actions speak louder than words’ approach may be more enlightening. I’m a great believer in everyone deserves a 522nd chance, so let’s delve into the President’s recent activity and see if these abhorrent comments were merely several slips of the same disgusting tongue.

1) The right to grab pussy.

(Once having been told that this is not actually an amendment on the Constitution) Donald Trump did issue a short statement saying ‘I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise… anyone who knows me, knows these words don’t reflect who I am’. The President’s attempts to dispel fears about his predatory behaviour have been undermined by at least 24 women who have accused the President of inappropriate sexual behaviour in multiple incidents spanning the last 30 years.

I think it is fair to argue, Prime Minister, that here is an example of (multiple) actions speaking louder than words.

2) The man said he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. To quote the President can we please figure out ‘what the hell is going on?’

Well, as you know, Prime Minister, the President is planning to sign an executive order that would indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the US, as well as suspending any immigration for at least 30 days from a number of predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Once again, despite the fact that Trump did later modify his planned Muslim ban to a slightly less inflammatory ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants from certain countries, his racist intentions have been made clear only a week into his presidency.

3) Let’s take a minute to look at the moment Donald Trump was allowed to sign an anti-abortion executive order surrounded by men: image1

Never, as long as I live, will I see a photo of 6 women signing legislation which determines what men can do with their own reproductive organs. In this photo, the President is signing an executive order that prohibits international NGOs from funding abortion services and providing information about abortions if they receive US funding. As the United States is the single largest donor to global health efforts, this order will affect thousands of international healthcare services who will have to decide between critical funding and whether to continue to offer family planning care. The possible decrease in access to abortions will inevitably lead to an increase in unsafe abortions, which kill tens of thousands of women every year.

Prime Minister, at this point I need to quote you. On the Andrew Marr show you said ‘whenever there is something that I find unacceptable, I won’t be afraid to say it to Donald Trump’.

Please, Theresa, if you honestly can’t find anything in the points above that you personally find ‘unacceptable’, I urge you PLEASE to listen to and stand up for the millions of people who marched last Saturday who have shown that they do.

You being there as a female Prime Minister is simply not a big enough statement. Being a woman in power is not the same as standing up for women’s rights. Your faux feminism is no good to the millions of women facing systemic sexist injustices. Your party’s silence when it comes to women’s issues is deafening and your decision to prioritise finding common ground with a racist misogynist will only prove how shallow your feminist principles are. 

In the words of Desmond Tutu, if you are neutral (or in this case silent) in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. 

STAND UP TO TRUMP.

Yours (hopefully) in solidarity,

Lily West

The Forced Separation of Mothers from their Children is an issue of Poverty

House of Lords & House of Commons Lobby. The Parliament. London. UK

Inside the House of Commons

Amy Hills-Fletcher

Legal Action for Women launched a dossier on 18th January detailing how the push to increase adoption in England, a policy that was set in motion by Blair’s government in 2000, is punishing women on low incomes. Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Children & Families, Emma Lewell-Buck, sponsored the launch of this research document at an event in the House of Commons. There was a panel of campaigners from grassroots organisations, academics and a woman who’s daughter had had her child taken into care. I went along to the meeting and was moved, shocked and outraged by what I heard.

The research that was launched was conducted by Dr Andy Bilson, Emeritus Professor of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire. In his presentation, he highlighted that there had been a huge adoption push by Labour in 2000 so that by 2005, adoption had increased by 40%. Before going to this meeting, I had never deeply considered the reasons why children are taken into care – adopting children who are in ‘dangerous’, ‘neglectful’ families: what is the issue?

The problem comes when you delve deeper into the statistics of which children have been adopted, are under Special Guardianship or have been taken into care – they are staggering. You are 11 x more likely to be in care if you are in the poorest 10% of people in England and, out of this poorest 10%, 1 in 30 children are in care.  There has been a dramatic rise in the amount of children who are classified in need of investigation but at the same time an increase in investigations which find no abuse.

Given that there has been such an adoption push since 2000, which has only increased under the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition and the current Tory government, surely this means an overall decrease in children who are in care? In fact, the statistics show that the number of children in care is also increasing alongside adoptions and, despite the adoption push, there has been no improvement in safeguarding children.

What Dr Andy Bilson’s research has found is that poverty is being classified as emotional abuse and neglect by the state. Over 90% of children come from families living below the poverty line, who are then adopted by largely middle class families – this is social cleansing and does not solve the issue at hand. Additionally, 40% of the women who formed part of Dr Andy Bilson’s research were black and/or immigrants who were often in very vulnerable circumstances.

The research also shows that rape and domestic violence are the most common underlying factor for children being taken into care. Women are not being protected by the family courts, despite claims that men are the ones losing out in these battles. Women who are suffering domestic abuse and rape in the home are being told by the family courts that they are failing to protect their children and therefore that they are not fit to look after them – this is the state’s solution. Rather than funding women’s services and building safe council housing so that women have the opportunity to get out of violence in their homes, the social services are often being used as an arm of the police and are not helping vulnerable women living in poverty. What’s more, women have reported being afraid to go to A & E to get medical treatment for injury caused by domestic abuse as they are terrified social services will try to take away their children – this is a criminal failure by the state to help the most vulnerable in our society.

One speaker at the meeting highlighted how this was exemplified by what had happened to girls in Rotherham who had been put into care due to abuse. This abuse had then carried on in care and later on when they had children, the state take their children away from them. This is not a solution to the wider issue of poverty. Rather than funding proper public services and removing the zero hours contracts and criminally low paid work that so many women are forced to survive on, the state would rather pay thousands of pounds towards keeping children in care away from their mothers. These women’s situations are as a result of poverty that has been facilitated by the state. Essex County Council pay £54,000 a year for one child to be in care – why can this money not be used to help mothers to get out of abusive relationships and not have to rely on zero hours contracts whilst attempting to pay for child care?

The terrifying reality of what is happening to social services is exemplified by the Children & Social Work Bill which is currently going through the House of Commons. This will enable councils to ‘opt out’ of statutory child protection and pave the way for further privatisation in the social care sector. Privatisation is happening alongside devastating cuts to schools, hospitals and community services – we must stand together to oppose this at all costs.

Mothers are bearing 85% of austerity cuts and 1/4 of low income mothers go hungry to feed their children. If the state put a stop to this life destroying, ideologically driven austerity and increased wages and gave mothers the support they need ,they would enable families to get out of poverty and put a stop to the practice of equating poverty with emotional abuse and neglect and allow children to stay with their families.

 

 

 

 

Lexit or Remain Part II: What’s Best For Women?

Sara Khan

REMAIN

It is truly lamentable that socialist arguments for the UK to remain in the EU cannot be more optimistic. As I am about to expound upon, however, the problem with many left-wing arguments to leave is that they are often too optimistic, ignoring many of the awful realities that leaving the EU would entail.

It is completely valid to say that it is grassroots action, not EU bureaucracy, that afforded women in the UK the rights we have today. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 was the victory of the women that led the Dagenham Ford strike of 1968, not the Labour politicians who enshrined equal pay in their 1959 manifesto promises, nor the Trade Union Congress, which vowed to support the right to equal pay in 1965. The fact that the gender pay gap continues to persist today in spite of this legislation is testament to how little bureaucrats care for gender equality even now. As far as the EU is concerned, its supposed dedication to equal pay has not warranted any substantial progress either, a testimony to the fact that the EU is an organisation primarily concerned with furthering the agenda of the ruling class.

Austerity measures disproportionately affect women, as domestic violence services and childcare benefits are attacked alongside other public services that women are more likely to need. Does voting to leave the EU really offer a tangible alternative to austerity, though? Voting to remain in order to alleviate the possibility of a Boris Johnson government is ludicrous – Cameron is no less right-wing than Johnson, even if he is somewhat more tactful – but it is equally ludicrous to vote to leave in the hope that they can be overthrown as a result. The Tories are already rapidly losing public support, and it is extremely unlikely that the government could collapse immediately as a result of a majority vote in favour of leaving the EU. If the dispute over the NHS has not compelled Hunt to resign, and millions of protestors against the Iraq War could not force Blair to do the same, why would a majority in favour of ‘leave’ push Cameron that far?

In addition, when we are told that Corbyn would be unable to nationalise the railways under the EU, we are often presented with a glaringly incomplete analysis. The argument is valid to an extent – it is true that EU laws are supposed to prohibit ‘public monopolies’ – but it is important to note that nationalisation has been possible throughout the EU anyway. While the NHS is currently under attack in the UK, a public monopoly on healthcare continues to exist in the EU states of Denmark and Sweden, which provide education completely free of charge as well. Corbyn wishes to renationalise the railways – how could the EU stop him, when it has failed to stop France, Italy, and Spain? In Sweden, full nationalisation of the banking sector has been hotly debated since its partial nationalisation in 2009, and in Germany, talks about the nationalisation of energy are still ongoing. It is perfectly fair to say that what we, as socialists, ultimately want is for an end to any EU prohibition of public monopolies, but if other EU states have done it, then there is hope for reform. In the meantime, nationalisation is possible within the EU, and EU legislation presents no truly tangible obstacles for Corbyn in this regard.

Thus far, I have only discussed why voting to remain in the EU is the lesser of two evils. The most important facet of this debate to me, however, is the argument that, in spite of its long list of flaws, the EU’s freedom of movement policy is something that can only be celebrated. As socialists, we must advocate the prohibition of restrictions on the right to move, live and work on the basis of nationality. Freedom of movement within the EU is an extremely important step towards a world in which all national borders are dissolved, in which people have the right to live as citizens of the world, not of nations. If we leave the EU, what will become of EU and non-EU migrants living in the UK? Tories in support of the vote to leave want to limit the rights of EU migrants even further, and to use the excuse of no longer being subject to EU policy to withdraw even further from the duty to aid Syrian refugees. In the UK today, countless women of colour are held in detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood, physically and emotionally abused on a daily basis on account of their citizenship. The EU may be an organisation which exists primarily to further the interests of the ruling class, but we cannot allow this to blind us from the fact that leaving the EU would devastate working class women from other countries. The erection of borders is an act of violence, and while left-wing arguments to leave the EU may not come from a place of xenophobia, we cannot believe those who say that leaving the EU is somehow more internationalist than remaining.

Having listed some of its facets above, I sincerely believe that there is a strong critique to be made of the EU from a socialist feminist perspective. However, I do not believe that critiquing the EU should entail the desire to leave it, especially when one takes into account the devastating effects that this would have on working class women living in the UK, especially women of colour. Leaving the EU would not advance equality for people of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities, and so on – it would be an enormous step backwards.

Sara Khan

Lexit or Remain: What’s Best For Women?

Given it is so difficult to find many genuinely progressive debates about the EU Referendum in the mainstream media, it’s becoming increasingly hard for many people to feel equipped to make a decision on how they will vote on 23rd of June. Two women are going to put their cases forward for a progressive leave vote and, next week, for remain.

When it comes to leaving the EU, the debate is being so dominated by the right-wing that the legitimate arguments for a left-wing exit are being largely left out of the conversation. The remain campaign of course have the Labour Party arguing that we should remain in the EU and many progressive voices in the media, such as Owen Jones, have now firmly given their support to the remain camp. In a debate where there are right-wingers on both sides, how should lefty women be voting?

Lexit

In the debate about the EU, it is common to hear lefties arguing that there is no vote to leave that is not racist or xenophobic and that, particularly when it comes to women, we will have our workers’ rights stripped from us and the battle for equal pay will become even tougher. People warn that the potential for a Boris Johnson government would mean a swing to the right and that this would have disastrous consequences for women, however, there are many reasons why these arguments don’t ring true.

To begin with, the argument that it is the EU that has given women workers’ rights is ludicrous – these rights were won from the bottom-up through women workers demanding them, not by bureaucrats in the EU. It is insulting to suggest that women who went on strike over issues such as equal pay, like the women at the Dagenham Ford factory in 1968, have simply been handed these rights. It was those striking working women in Dagenham who were the catalysts for the 1970 Equal Pay Act and not politicians. What’s more, as has been made obvious in France and Belgium in the past week, being an EU country does not protect workers’ rights.

The pessimism that surrounds the main left-wing arguments for remaining in the EU is lamentable – it is predicated on the notion that social reform at home is impossible outside of the EU. The people of Greece are testament to the fact that the EU can be a crushing, neoliberal force and not the progressive haven it is often described as. Additionally, a recent Guardian article
(http://www.theguardian.com/careers/2016/may/24/what-would-leaving-eu-mean–employment-rights) detailed how it is highly unlikely that there would actually be any major shift in employment rights, regardless of the supposed swing to the right that Johnson would bring to the table. Women already do not have equal pay in the UK despite the EU Gender Equality Recast Directive. It would be pessimistic to argue that any detrimental changes would come about through leaving, given that the EU has already failed to tackle the issue as has the Tory government – why would this change?

The EU has adopted a policy of austerity that is entirely ideological. As has been made obvious in Greece, even when an anti-austerity party is democratically elected to government, they will be trampled on by the EU. The politics of austerity hits women hardest, as has been made evident in the UK, where cuts being made in the public sector disproportionately affect women and where domestic violence services are being dangerously decimated, with 2 in 3 women being turned away from refuges. Although there are people on the Left, such as Paul Mason recently (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/16/brexit-eu-referendum-boris-johnson-greece-tory), arguing that Boris Johnson’s post-exit leadership is the overriding reason to vote remain, this is based on the notion that David Cameron and Boris Johnson are somehow totally ideologically opposed – this is simply untrue. There is no way that anyone could argue that Cameron has been some kind of feminist beacon. He has chosen the politics of austerity and continued to make decisions that hurt women the most. Women are not protected from the crippling effects of the politics of austerity at the moment in the UK, and neither are women protected from it in EU countries.

Outside of the EU, the kinds of progressive policies that Jeremy Corbyn will be campaigning for will be able to be implemented if he were to be elected. There are many EU directives that enforce privatisation of our public services – Royal Mail was privatised by the Conservatives, but the EU began the process when they liberalised the postal market. It is the kinds of progressive policies that Corbyn has campaigned for his whole life that will genuinely improve the situation for women, and not the pro-austerity stance of the EU. Lexit could be the start of building a grass-roots movement towards the kinds of progressive government we need to bring about social change for women – this is not going to be possible within an un-progressive EU that would would limit the potential policy changes of a Corbyn government.

Lexit would not vindicate the right any further, we are already in the 6th year of Tory rule and it is an unconvincing argument that things would genuinely get drastically worse just because of a change of leadership. The Tories are already decimating the NHS, refusing to take in refugees and limiting EU migrants access to benefits. These are issues that directly affect women – the NHS provides vital care, particularly as women’s services for domestic and sexual violence are cut and it is obvious that the EU does not protect us from these cuts, nor does it force us to be a socially progressive country, as is highlighted by the despicable way the Tories have handled the refugee crisis. Women and children in European refugee camps, especially those without documentation, are vulnerable to trafficking and sexual violence. The EU response to the refugee crisis has been revolting and it is important to point out that this is an issue that does directly affect women, as is the Islamophobia and racism at the centre of the EU and Tory response. It would be false to suggest that the EU has been a progressive, anti-racist force.

Progressive women should not vote to remain within the EU, which crushes anti-austerity politics, even where reforms have been attempted democratically. The only legitimate way to bring about the kind of liberation that women need to achieve equality in the long term is through voting to leave and building towards a more progressive, anti-austerity UK that has the interests of ordinary women at its heart and not those of big business and bankers.