Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Tory ‘sisterhood’? What a joke

Vera and Kate Green MP replied to an article in last week\’s Observer alleging that some women Tory MPs might be concerned about the Coalition\’s impact on women.

Here is the text of the letter, which appeared in the publication on 15th January 2012:

Tory \’sisterhood\’? What a joke

Conservative women\’s proclaimed support for equality (“The new blue sisterhood“, Review) fails to convince when their own government\’s track record is examined.

Female unemployment is at a 23-year high as a result of government policies, while cuts to tax credits hit women\’s purses twice as hard as men’s wallets. Across the country, Sure Start services face the axe, while cuts to police numbers, and councils turning out the street lights to save money, threaten everyone\’s safety, but make women, in particular, more fearful. Access to legal aid for victims of domestic violence is to be massively restricted under this government. Many of those who currently get legal help will have to fight their own cases alone in future, face to face with their abuser. Women\’s refuge services are under threat from a combination of cuts, commissioning chaos and the removal of the part of local housing allowance that pays for the support women and children need when they have to move far from their former home for their safety. And single parents (nine out of 10 of whom are women) will be forced to pay a fee to the Child Support Agency to get an absent partner to hand over child-maintenance.

This is the record of the Tory-led government that the “true blue sisterhood” should be speaking out about, yet they have stayed silent.

Kate Green MP, shadow minister for women and equalities

Vera Baird QC, chair, Women\’s Safety Commission