F-worders: challenge the politicians!

// 21 January 2010

Eaves are holding a pre-election Question Time for Women on the 16th March, where 2,000 people will have the chance to submit questions to the Ministers for Women about their policies on women’s issues.

We’re going, and will report back but, in the meantime, have at it in the comments with suggestions for questions or, even better, sign up for a place in the audience and pose them yourself! My question: what are the parties’ views on expanding state provided childcare?

Contact Anna Bowden at Eaves to reserve a place: more details are on this flyer and our events page. For those of you who haven’t come across it before, we use the events page to list the various event announcements etc that we come across – feel free to submit your own suggestions.

Comments From You

eleanargh // Posted 22 January 2010 at 12:12 am

“What are the parties’ plans for expanding paternity leave to enable families more flexibility in how parents take post-birth leave?”

(This would apply to gay couples too by the way as the non-birth parent usually takes the current “paternity” leave).

I was excited to hear my workplace Director of HR talking about this discrepancy today and how it leads to so much inequality in work, promotion and pay. I immediately liked him slightly more. Now the politicians need to sort it out.

angercanbepower // Posted 22 January 2010 at 1:06 pm


From the Tory draft Families Manifesto (http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Where_we_stand/~/media/Files/Draft%20Manifesto/DraftFamiliesManifesto.ashx – it’s a pdf):

“we will extend the right to request flexible working to every parent with a child under the age of eighteen. We will introduce a new system of flexible parental leave which lets parents share maternity leave between them, including taking some of the leave simultaneously.”

Pros: They’re talking about it.

Cons: Sharing ‘maternity leave’ still implies that the weight of responsbility ought to be on the mother. No mention of the ultimate goal being equal leave. No mention of when we can expect it to happen by. No mention of increasing the period of leave or statutory maternity pay.

Hardly a strong committment in an election year.

I don’t think Labour have said anything about this yet though if anyone has spotted something I’d love to see it.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 22 January 2010 at 2:22 pm

I’d really like to know if this stupid ‘marriage tax break’ proposal is intended to apply to civil-partnered couples or not and if not why not (doesn’t mean I agree with the idea if it did apply, I’m just intrigued as to whether they’ll admit their homophobia)?

I had assumed not, but then the Metro had a story about it the other day that confusingly stated something like: “marriage ensures stability for gay and straight couples”

Obviously someone at the Metro had forgotten that gay people can’t get married, either that or I’ve missed a rather big piece of news…

Lynne Miles // Posted 22 January 2010 at 4:45 pm

…yeah, and on that, what are the parties going to do about equalizing civil partnership and marriage? Civil partnership is a step forwards for gay rights but, FWIW, I can’t help but feel that “separate but equal” is not equal at all, and we should consolidate all non-religious legal couplings around one institution which is accessible by both straight and gay couples. It seems obvoious to me that everyone who has a civil ceremony should be civil partnered and “marriage” should be confined to specific religious/cultural ceremonies.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 22 January 2010 at 4:59 pm

Totally agree, Lynne.

angercanbepower // Posted 22 January 2010 at 5:14 pm

Catherine, they’re claiming to, but I don’t buy it:

“We will recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system in the next Parliament. We are one of the very few countries in the Western world that doesn’t do

so and we will put that right. This will send an important signal that we value the commitment that people make when they get married.”

(From the link I posted in my comment above, p14)

However, I think that at this point it would be fairly difficult for the Tories to explicitly reject civil partnership (what a contrast from 1992 – say what you like about this government but there has been progress). Of course, tax law is incredibly complicated and there are numerous ways of structuring the system so that it favours het couples. Probably the easiest way is to focus on children – indeed their pet family policy thinktank, Ian Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice, suggests this in the Green Paper they published on the family on 18th Jan 2010 (p19).

The Tory stance on adoption by people who are not in a married heterosexual relationship will be central to this. Given that, as thefword blogged about in July, the CSJ completely ignored same-sex couples in their Every Family Matters report, allegedly because the same-sex community is “relatively small” (although the report managed to discuss lots of other smaller groups, e.g. children in local authority care, children of prisoners etc), I’m not exactly optimistic about the strength of their dedication to the rights of same-sex couples.

gadgetgal // Posted 22 January 2010 at 5:21 pm

I gotta say, the marriage tax break irritates the hell out of me, and I’m married!! But it just smacks of inequality – does that mean when I was single I was worth less (or just worthless)? They should be putting the money into the places it needs to go, like supporting single mums and dads – there are a lot of kids out there that need support more than I do, and some help from the government for once would be nice, instead of zero help, and also trying to make them feel guilty for something they shouldn’t feel guilty about at the same time!

Karen Vaughan // Posted 22 January 2010 at 10:57 pm

How about “can we ban pornos of the soft or hard variety from exploiting my sexuality as it isn’t theirs to exploit” or “are we human beings yet” or “the daily sport: the most inappropriate title ever?” or “thats funny, I can drive, I can read maps, I can fix cars, pumps, gearboxes etc, how the hell did that happen without that lump of gristle between my legs?” So many issues still to be solved….

Amy Clare // Posted 25 January 2010 at 1:58 pm

The marriage tax break really gets my goat too. All this ‘we value their commitment’ nonsense is basically a smokescreen for their real view, which is that people shacking up and having kids ‘out of wedlock’ is immoral, and is contributing to our apparently ‘broken society’ (oh how David Cameron loves to use that phrase), so the more married people, the better. This is such a shortsighted view. I really resent the idea that I am apparently less committed to my partner because we haven’t got society’s rubber stamp on our relationship, and for that reason I should pay more tax. It makes no sense whatsoever. Commitment comes from inside you in the form of your love and desire for your partner, which can’t be imposed by outside agencies. I swear the Tories would just love a return to the times when men married the first woman they impregnated and divorce was taboo or outright banned. That led to loads of happy, stable people didn’t it? Erm, no.

So my question would be: exactly how do the Tories think bribing people to get married / stay married will help *anyone* and, more specifically, poor women who might be in abusive relationships?

On a related note, I would ask the politicians how they plan to tackle the issue of domestic violence, and make it easier for women to leave abusive relationships. I would also ask the parties if any of them are planning to drop the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule.

angercanbepower // Posted 28 January 2010 at 4:40 pm

In response to Eleanargh and, er, myself, Labour have announced they’re going to try and push through fairly similar-looking plans to the ones in the Tory manifesto: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/jan/28/fathers-six-months-paternity-leave

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