Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ruth Kelly Quits Cabinet. Good.

News breaks this morning that Ruth Kelly has quit the Cabinet.

Long-time readers will be familiar with the contempt in which I hold Ms Kelly - whether she is cutting back on translation services in order to 'fight fascism'; or sending her son to private school to get him out of the under-funded state system that she used to be in charge of; or pretending to be a champion of women's rights.

Usually, when a politician departs from office "to spend more time with his/her family", it is widely seen as code for "sacked" or "resigned because pissed off with party leadership". In this case, maybe it is this, but maybe it really is to spend more time with her family, as she has four kids of primary-school age (and this usually seems to be seen as more of a 'responsibility' for women than for men).

We can expect many tributes to her superwoman status, bravely juggling the competing demands of kids and work, courageously blazing a trail for mothers in politics.

I can certainly empathise with this juggling act, with three primary-age kids of my own, and many years behind and ahead of me of battles with my employer and sometimes even within my union for this not to be held against me.

But my empathy does not extend to Ruth Kelly. Why? Because her policies have condemned many working-class women to a struggle harder than hers:
  • The pathetic level of the minimum wage leaves many women having to work long hours, or have two or even more jobs to make ends meet, leaving them very little time to spend with their families.
  • Most of us can not afford to send our special-needs kids to private schools, and would be happy with their state schools if the Government in which she used to be Education Secretary had funded them properly and reorganised them to meet children's needs rather than burden them with tests and targets.
  • Many people are unable to balance work and parenting, because New Labour's flexible working legislation is so piss-weak.
  • She led the charge to allow 'faith-based' adoption agencies to discriminate against gay people - so presumably, some people have more right to spend time with their children than others.
  • And her opposition to abortion rights would force women to have children that they didn't even want.
So, mincing no words - good riddance. Let's have some concern for working-class parents left to struggle by New Labour instead.

Labels: ,