With the Tories snuggling up to the DUP, we’re facing some serious potential lows for equality. Luckily, we’ve got an exciting, strong, progressive opposition. While it might not look like it from the government May is cobbling together, I believe equality is going to storm straight to the front of the national agenda.
The campaign set the stage for this. Even while equivalent errors by Tory ministers went unremarked upon, the frankly racist misogyny that was piled on the brilliant Diane Abbott for simply human mistakes seemed to dishearteningly reflect a toxified electorate that many tabloids have told us we should come to expect. But then, while not rectifying the violence dealt, the situation was at the last deliciously countered by her enormous, troll-crushing majority. One of the largest vote shares ever recorded.
And Abbott’s victory was just one triumph for women: a record number are now set to take their seats in parliament, thanks in no small part to exceptional work women like her have been doing for decades. That said, at just 32% of MPs, women’s representation is still woefully far from enough. We welcome (some returning, some for the first time) fantastic figures to the House of Commons, including Caroline Lucas, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips, Rosie Duffield, Stella Creasy, Thangam Debbonaire and Mhairi Black. More of this please, so much more.
Now, we’re emerging from the fray with the Conservatives hand in hand with the DUP (Tories love a dubious hand-hold). Former Conservative minister Owen Paterson has already confessed they’ll be using fundamental women’s rights as a casual bargaining chip in their grim coalition of chaos. The DUP’s record on women’s rights, as it is on LGBT rights, climate change, evolution denial and more, is horrendous.
We’ve elected a meaningful opposition led by an impressive showing of Labour MPs who ran on a platform that offered a genuinely progressive vision for equality. With ignited hope and passion from people across the country set to grow, we can now work with, lobby and champion our emboldened representative opposition in parliament. We will make sure we stride forward, rather than dial back, on key rights. It is genuinely exciting.
An edited version of this article was first published in The Observer, 11/06/17. Find it here.
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