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It is perhaps a sign of how much Britain has changed in the past half century that the gender of Theresa May, only Britain’s second female prime minister, is rarely remarked upon. Today however, it will be discussed rather a lot. February 6, 2018, marks 100 years since women were given the vote in Britain, albeit in limited numbers (the full franchise had to wait until 1928).
This is one of those set piece days that Westminster so loves. And May isn’t simply spending the day commemorating. She will take the opportunity to move the political debate beyond Brexit, for a few hours at least, and instead talk about bullying and intimidation in public life. May will speak later in Manchester, where she will praise the heroic efforts of the women who won the right to vote and to stand for election. She will also set out plans to clamp down on abuse of political candidates.
The PM is also appearing on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour in a pre-recorded interview with Jenni Murray this morning at 10. In the interview May expresses the fear that bullying and harassment are “leading to some women feeling that they don’t want to put their head above the parapet, they don’t want to take part in public life”.
In search of equality
Certainly there is a lack of women in British politics. The Telegraph’s data team have looked into the numbers and, while far from the worst nation, Britain still lags behind in the number of women in Parliament, at less than a third of the total. With the right to stand for election given to women just seven months after the right to vote, that centenary is fast approaching, too. Equal numbers in Parliament, it seems, is not. Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, writes for The Telegraph on the challenges women still face to reach the top.
There is also a bit of policy. In her Woman’s Hour interview, the PM takes the opportunity to discuss the Government’s consultation on “a new offence of intimidation of parliamentary candidates and campaigners.” The policy has been planned for a while, but its formal announcement comes amid renewed debate on the safety of MPs after Jacob Rees-Mogg was confronted by masked protesters at a talk he was giving at a Bristol university.
Whose legacy is it?
Tim Stanley, writing in today’s Telegraph is not convinced by the plans for a new offence. He asks whether the very suffragettes May will praise in Manchester would have welcomed a new offence that would have targeted them directly, and warns against another power grab by the state.
It’s also a reminder that arguments over the legacy of the Suffragettes are still raging. The Telegraph this morning leads on calls for a pardon for those Suffragettes arrested jailed during their fight for the vote. This will likely prove a popular campaign. But while celebrating the Suffragettes, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Millicent Fawcett and her moderate, non-violent Suffragists played just as important a role in achieving women’s suffrage.
Indeed, plans have been revealed for the first ever female statue in Parliament Square, which will be unveiled in April. It is of Millicent Fawcett.
In the news
SLING OUT THE BREXITEERS?
The story| Leading Remainer Anna Soubry has threatened to quit the Conservative Party, and warned that others in Parliament will join her, if hardline Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are allowed to take over the party. Speaking on Newsnight, she also called for the PM to “sling them out” of the party as they are “not proper Conservatives”. [ Telegraph]
The takeaway| After the Brexit referendum there was lots of talk of a split and the possible creation of a new centrist party. This died down once last year’s election was called, and Soubry could be dismissed as an outlier. But it shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that the majority of the parliamentary Tory party are not hardline Brexiteers and would find it impossible to back a Johnson-Mogg type Brexit. The hardliners look strong at the moment, but Soubry is reminding them of their limits.
THE COST OF TRANSITION
The story| The Telegraph has seen a leaked report which details many of the laws and regulations the UK could be forced to follow without a say during any Brexit transition. [ Telegraph]
Telegraph Take| This is exactly what Rees-Mogg meant when he warned of Britain becoming a “vassal state”, and it could cause the Government a lot of difficulty over what was meant to be the most straightforward part of Brexit. Still, it might be considered a price worth paying for a decent Brexit.
MAY’S ‘PATHETIC’ PLAN
That bad?| It should be asked why this was leaked, but the discontent is understandable. The blocks aren’t much of an improvement on Ed Miliband’s infamous “Ed Stone”. At least these aren’t carved in stone.
EAST COAST COLLAPSE II
The story| The East Coast rail franchise is to end early, at a reported cost to Stagecoach of £200m. The public sector may have to step in. The franchise has long been the source of trouble for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. [ Guardian]
Why it matters| The East Coast franchise is at the centre of a very wonkish and polarised debate. It was briefly profitable under public ownership several years ago, and this is the second time a private franchise has failed. It is seen by some as proof of the need for renationalisation. However, the East Coast suffers from a distinct lack of commuter routes, which make other lines profitable. The lack of a bailout will be welcome, but this isn’t a good moment for Grayling, especially if the public sector takes over again.
Further Reading| Former rail minister Tom Harris explains why the East Coast franchise is emotive, and so hard to run. [ Telegraph]
The story| The FT has an interesting story on the danger of a revolt by rural Tory MPs. After Northamptonshire County Council had to put in place emergency measures, MPs are now warning they will not allow any more cuts to rural areas. [ FT]
Will it be costly?| Trouble in the Tory heartlands rarely ends well for the party in Westminster. More importantly, this is another straw on the back of the austerity camel. The Conservatives can no longer take support for austerity for granted, even in their own backyards.
What the papers say
What’s the story| There’s a broad spread of stories this morning. There was a fair bit of news yesterday, and so the papers are split on what matters. The East Coast story seems the most reported
Why| Put simply, there was a lot going on yesterday. Tomorrow expect the news to be dominated by May.
US healthcare lags behind the UK on value for money
By Patrick Scott, Data Journalist
Donald Trump set his sights on the NHS yesterday in one of his now customary Twitter offensives. He claimed that “thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U[niversal] system is going broke and not working”.
However, in terms of a broad estimate of value for money – spend per head vs life expectancy – the US healthcare model lags behind most other developed nations, including the UK. The chart above shows how comparatively little improvement in life expectancy has been made in the past two decades despite rocketing spending.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/06/front-bench-quotas-female-mps-have-say/