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Tory MP Philip Davies criticised for 'feminist nonsense' comments

Published 12/08/2016

Conservative MP Philip Davies said politically correct men pay too much attention to what he termed militant feminists
Conservative MP Philip Davies said politically correct men pay too much attention to what he termed militant feminists

A Tory MP who said politically correct males are pandering to "feminist nonsense" is facing a backlash over the comments.

In a speech that has emerged online, Philip Davies complained that the drive for "so-called equality" favours women, who he claims want to have their cake and eat it.

Labour said the Tory backbencher should have his Tory whip withdrawn for showing open contempt for women, while the Liberal Democrats said his comments are "astonishing" and "truly ignorant".

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women's rights, suggested the MP should start working for the Donald Trump campaign.

Mr Davies was speaking at an event last month for Justice for Men and Boys, an anti-feminism party whose 2015 election manifesto suggests men should receive their pension earlier than women because they work harder and die younger, and the Government should scrap schemes which attempt to increase the proportion of girls and young women studying science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

It also claims the state education system is run with the objective of advantaging girls over boys and suggests parents should be able to send their sons to schools with male-only teachers because female teachers award lower grades to boys.

In a 45-minute speech posted online, Mr Davies denied that there is "an issue between men and women".

He said: "I think the problem is being stirred up by those who could be described as militant feminists and the politically correct males who pander to this nonsense.

"This has led to an equality-but-only-when-it-suits agenda that applies to women.

"The drive for women to have so-called equality on all the things that suit the politically correct agenda but not other things that don't is of increasing concern to me."

He said while there are campaigns to increase the number of women on company boards and in Parliament, there has been a "deafening silence" when it comes to increasing the number of men who have custody of their children or have careers as midwives.

He added: "In fact there seems to be a deafening silence on all the benefits women have compared to men. In this day and age the feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it.

"They fight for their version of equality on all the things that suit women but are very quick to point out that women need special protections and treatment on other things."

Labour's shadow secretary for women and equalities, Angela Rayner, called on Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw the Tory whip from Mr Davies while an investigation is carried out.

She said: "He has open contempt for women. His views are so out-dated they are prehistoric.

"There is no place for these views in modern Britain. He has a track record for misogyny having consistently voted against legislation that will make our society more gender equal."

She added that he "endorses and legitimises the inflammatory and toxic rhetoric of groups who are misogynistic to their core".

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "The need for feminism is self-evident.

"In the UK, on average two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner, the gender pay gap in full-time work stands at 24% and women are under-represented in Parliament and on FTSE 100 boards.

"I am proud to call myself a feminist and Philip Davies' remarks are truly ignorant."

A spokeswoman for the Fawcett Society said: "Tragically, in 2016 he sounds increasingly anachronistic and at odds with many in his own party, including the Prime Minister herself. Perhaps he should lend his support to Trump's presidential campaign?

"Those who champion gender equality and women's rights want to create a fairer, stronger society and a more productive economy.

"We want to grow the cake that Mr Davies refers to, then we can all eat a bigger slice of it. Perhaps we'll even be generous enough to save a slice for him."

In Parliament Mr Davies has regularly raised concerns about what he calls the "justice gender gap", complaining that the justice system favours women by sending fewer to prison and not forcing them to wear uniforms.

Asked about his appearance at the Justice for Men and Boys conference, Mr Davies told the Guardian: "I don't accept the premise that the only place that people can speak on anything is a place where they agree with everything that organisation stands for.

"I don't agree with everything the Conservative Party does but I'm still a Conservative MP."

He told the newspaper he was not paid for the appearance.

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