I feel compelled today to write a response to one reader’s comment on my blog ‘Majority of Conservative MEPs oppose greater Gender Equality‘. In this instance, I want to reply to the commenter’s refutation that the Tories are opposed to the advancement of gender equality, and that the ECR’s rejection of the 2009 ‘Report on equality between men and women in the European Union’ merely demonstrated their disenchantment with the Socialist and Democrats’ approach.
If you look closely at the recent voting record of the Tory party in the European Parliament, you will see that they have consistently tried to stifle the achievement of gender equality in the European Union. Note, for instance, that during the vote in plenary in February 2009 on a report entitled ‘Non-discrimination based on gender and inter-generational solidarity’, 17 Conservatives voted against it (with 10 not voting). This means that not one Tory MEP supported a report which sought to support the (primarily) women who contribute to inter-generational solidarity and thus participate in the creation of social relations. The rapporteur of this report, Anna Záborská, was a member of the Tories’ own group at the time, the European People’s Party (EPP), and this group on the whole supported the report. The Tories, unfortunately, did not.
In a January 2009 report on ‘Equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions’, the Tories again demonstrated their lack of commitment to gender equality. In this case, out of 27 Conservative MEPs only 3 voted in favour of this widely-supported document which was passed with a clear majority in plenary. The majority of the remaining 24 opted to abstain from the vote.
A similar desire to stifle the EU’s goal of achieving gender equality is apparent in the Tories’ voting on the 2008 ‘Report on equality between men and women in the European Parliament’. In this case, only two Conservative MEPs voted in favour of the report, with the majority of the remaining 25 abstaining from the vote.
With statistics like these, it is very difficult to make a case that the Conservatives in the European Parliament are keen to achieve full gender equality in Europe. All of this time David cameron has lead the Conservative Party and on every occasion he has lead his MEPs to oppose greater equality. I find it surprising that with the coming general Election more focus on David Cameron’s Conservatives record of opposing progressive measures to improve gender equality is not taken. The Conservatives shameful record in Europe cannot be airbrushed.