Big Boys Toys by Barbara Nadel

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It was International Women’s Day yesterday. As usual I remembered the Pankhursts, Manchester girls all, as well as women like Mo Mowlem, Mary Seacole and Anne Frank. Heroines to me and to millions of women like me. What a shame it is therefore that even here in a western democracy women still don’t get equal pay with men.

Equal pay for women became law in this country in 1971. I was a school kid then. I now have lines on my face and my hair is going grey. What does this tell us? It tells us that things like women’s rights are still getting shuffled to the bottom of the political pile.

One of the reasons I think that this is happening is because our politicians, who are mainly ‘boys’ are rather more keen on making war with their sophisticated technology of death than they are on making essential domestic policy. I include former PM Margaret Thatcher in with the ‘boys’ here because basically she was a particularly toxic man in tweed and pearls (sorry if that offends any guys!).

With Libya on the edge of civil war I can understand the thinking behind a no fly zone over that country. What I can’t get my head around however, is the eagerness of our prime minister, David Cameron, to get involved. Suddenly he’s all about the Libyan people, championing their cause and virtually weeping for their suffering. Before all this happened, like his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, he was about as thick as he could be with Colonel Gadaffi. But then this is a potential war and so all bets are off. As with PMs Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher he has to have his own little conflict. It’s a ‘must have’, a baptism of fire, a ‘my cock is bigger than your cock’ moment. This man is cutting services to sick and vulnerable people all over this country, (as well as closing down most of our public toilets!) I don’t get that he’s some great humanitarian. Cynical? Me?

Look at the facts, Thatcher took this country to war in the Falklands back in the 1980s when her popularity was at rock bottom. We won, she became the ‘Iron Lady’, everyone became very patriotic and returning servicemen and women were treated pretty badly. Blair went to war in Iraq because God and George Bush told him to and now he’s got a big posh job as a Middle East envoy (whatever that may be). Returning servicemen and women are still treated badly. A pattern of going to war leading to some sort of reward for a PM prepared to go into conflict, has clearly developed over the years. War seems to be a good career move for a politician, less advisable for a returning service man or women. And in the meantime, domestic policy goes to hell. Fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just about women’s issues, this is also about our survival as a welfare state, something that is now under threat. I care about the Libyan people and I do think that they need help. But as the people who sold the man who’s now shooting at them with weapons we sold to him, the moral high ground is not somewhere we can even think about inhabiting. Maybe on this occasion, Mr Cameron should accept that someone else’s cock is way bigger than his will ever be and just put a stop to his war fantasies right now. The last thing this collapsed economy needs at the moment is Tony Blair Lite.

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