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Four things women can take from the Tory party conference

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It doesn’t look like things are going to get much better for women following this week’s Conservative party conference.

-Women hit hardest by benefit cuts

It is well documented that the cuts are hitting women’s pockets hardest, and there is huge concern that the further £10 billion in reduction to benefits funding announced by George Osborne at conference this week will again leave women worse off than men.

The Fawcett Society has demanded that the government is more transparent in terms of the impact on women: “If the government pursues yet another massive swath of welfare cuts it will be critical, and a legal requirement, that they properly assess and are upfront about how this could further disadvantage women far more than men”.

– White Van Man Conservatism

In the Guardian’s article “10 things we’ve learned from the Conservative party conference” it is noted that “White Van Conservatism” is the new dominant ideology within the party – replacing the dead-in-the-water Big Society. But where do women fit in to this picture? Curbs on benefit claimants, the “stab-a-burglar” law and tougher punishments for offenders  are all policies which cater for this “Tabloid Toryism”. The phrase and its ideology do nothing to move the party away from it’s record of dismissing and damaging the needs of women, and paint a glum picture for gender equality. “White Van Man Conservatism” may perhaps more accurately refelct the priorities of this government.

Hunt proved that the cabinet is truly out of touch with the electorate

The Tories weren’t able to come up with a series of comprehensive policies to win women over after Jeremy Hunt made some badly timed and inappropriate comments on abortion. The new Minister for Health was instead forced to keep a low profile at conference whilst other Conservative MP’s were forced to scrabble for a defence of the Conservative record on women. What was exposed was an overwhelmingly white, male, middle class cabinet which is completely disengaged from the people they are supposed to be representing.

It’s not all bad news: tougher laws to be introduced for sex offenders

Campaigners to end violence against women will welcome a new  “two strikes and you’re out” automatic life sentence for serious sexual offences, announced by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling at conference this week. The change, which will be brought in during December, will mean rapists and other criminals who commit a second serious violent or sexual offence will get a mandatory life sentence. This change could prove to be a big stepping stone in moving towards an end to rape and sexual violence culture in this country. The move comes as part of a wider move to ‘toughen up’ the justice system by the government.

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