The 2017 General Election was the time when the politically correct brigade decided that they wanted my time in Parliament to end.
As I have written here before, if you take on their shibboleths (eg arguing against positive discrimination and quotas in jobs) then they try to smear and bully you. Their aim in smearing you is to discredit you so that nobody believes what you say. Alternatively, they bully you to try to stop you from speaking out again and to discourage others from doing so.
Fighting political correctness since I was first elected in 2005 had brought a considerable amount of smearing and abuse. However, I am stubborn and refuse to be bullied and so had continued campaigning against political correctness in Parliament.
Indeed, as far as the PC brigade was concerned, I had become far worse. I actually had the temerity to argue that men and women should be treated equally in the criminal justice system. I have repeatedly highlighted how men are treated much more harshly in the criminal justice system and I had the nerve to argue that the sex of the victim and the perpetrator was irrelevant – all should be treated equally before the law. This flies in the face of the feminist zealot position I have previously mentioned which is that they want equality for women but only when it suits!
My reward for saying that everyone should be treated equally was to be called a misogynist by Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, and to be opposed by her at the General Election.
The election campaign in Shipley was predictably vile. Those opposing me decided that they had no positive message to sell to the electorate and so they relied – almost exclusively – on untruths and smears.
To give just one example, a lady in Bingley told me that a canvasser from the Women’s Equality Party had told her that the reason I had opposed the Istanbul Convention was because I beat my wife. I don’t know how many people were told this but I sincerely hope nobody believed such a nasty, blatant lie.
The Shipley Feminist Zealots put out leaflets – claiming not to be supporting any candidate although clearly acting as cheerleaders for the Labour Party and against me – which were full of half-truths and in some cases blatant untruths about my record in Parliament. They even handed out free cake to people along with their leaflets urging people not to vote for me. Keen students of election law might recognise this as “treating” but the Shipley Feminist Zealots did it with impunity.
In the event, despite Labour claims early on the evening of the count that they had won (these claims were faithfully reported as fact by their many friends in the media), I was re-elected with a majority of 4,681 (around half the majority I had in 2015), with the highest number of votes I have ever received (27,136), and the highest percentage of the vote I have ever achieved (51.3%).
The Leader of the Women’s Equality Party secured a derisory 1,040 – just 1.9% of the vote – thereby losing her deposit.
I am grateful to the people of the Shipley constituency for seeing through the lies and smears – they are wonderful salt of the earth people.
Three points of interest about the Women’s Equality Party come to mind. The first was how much national media interest they were able to generate from their left-wing politically correct friends in the London media despite having so little public support. The Guardian, Sky News and Channel 4 News were just three examples of the media coming to report in the campaign in Shipley – giving maximum publicity to the campaign from the Women’s Equality Party – even though it was pretty obvious throughout they would lose their deposit.
The second (and most satisfying) was how I managed to change the policy of the Women’s Equality Party on an issue of……women’s equality and rights! Before the election someone had emailed the Women’s Equality Party about their stance on sharia councils and their treatment of women. The Women’s Equality Party replied to say “The Women’s Equality Party is a non-partisan political party and the issue of sharia councils is a partisan one so we don’t have a Party line”.
I have worked with the Crossbench Peer and human rights campaigner Baroness Cox against sharia councils and their treatment of women. I highlighted the Women’s Equality Party’s shameful position on sharia councils and guess what…..the Women’s Equality Party now opposes Sharia Councils and their treatment of women. I am delighted I was able to help them with their policies to help women!
Finally, during Channel 4 News’ visit to Shipley, Sophie Walker said to the programme: “Philip Davies is a proponent of the idea that you achieve equality by treating everyone the same” – something she repeated at one of our hustings meetings. She is absolutely right – I do. How she equates that with her defamatory accusations at the start of the campaign – that I am a misogynist and anti-women – is beyond me, but I look forward to her explanation.
So I managed to persuade the Women’s Equality Party to change their policy on sharia councils and I managed to persuade them that I believe in true equality. All in all that seems like a success. I hope Sophie stands again in Shipley at the next General Election when I will aim to again help her develop better policies.
- Philip Davies is the Conservative MP for Shipley