Speeches » Margot Parker MEP Speech UKIP Conference 2017
2017 Conference Speech Text - Margot Parker MEP, Women and Equalities Spokeswoman
SOME people think it is strange that UKIP has a women and equalities spokeswoman at all - it is probably not what they expect of us. To them I say, don't worry, we have not gone all politically correct.
It doesn't mean that we will be calling for quotas or assisted places schemes in every walk of life. It doesn't mean we want to pass laws to ensure that both genders and people from every conceivable religious and ethnic background are represented in every public or private body in precisely the proportions they make up in our society either.
But what it does mean is that we will work to ensure that every British citizen, from every background, has a chance to fulfil their potential in life and does not face arbitrary barriers because of their race or their class or their gender or their religious affiliation or their sexual orientation.
There is still racial prejudice in our society - as there is in every society. But in my view it is very hard to sustain the idea that today a general or pervasive racism is the biggest impediment to people in minority communities achieving their goals.
Indeed, for every minority ethnic group seen to be under-achieving there is another over-achieving in sectors from enterprise, to sport to medicine or the arts.
The truth is that increasingly what holds people back from enjoying the full benefits and opportunities that British citizenship has to offer are cultural barriers rooted within their own communities.
Examples include the low priority given to formal education within many traveller families - and indeed within many white working class families too, or a second-class status accorded to women in many Islamic communities.
It should be a cause for national shame that so many girls are growing up in our country for whom all the victories of women's rights campaigners may as well have taken place on another planet.
These are the girls who cannot go out with, let alone marry, who they choose; who are at risk of or subjected to the abomination of female genital mutilation; for whom the threat of so-called "honour violence" and even "honour killing" is a constant constraint on the choices they make; who face the almost routine removal of the right to vote at the hands of male so-called "community leaders" who fill in postal ballots for them, who are forbidden from following career paths that their abilities suit them to and who are put under huge pressure to wear full-face coverings when out in public.
In every major town and city in this land there are women living in this pre-emancipation, pre-suffrage state. These are the real victims of inequality and these are the women most in need of a fearless, plain-speaking champion. I intend UKIP to be that champion.
I say to the British feminist movement - you have done a great job down the years of opening up more walks of life to women. And I would not dispute for a moment that the scourge of domestic violence is still prevalent in households of every social class.
But, really, your sense of priorities has gone awry. It is time to let rip against the outrageous and unconstrained chauvinism that is at work within some of our minority communities instead of turning a blind eye for fear of being accused of racism.
It is that attitude which allowed the terrible abuse of many thousands of young working class British girls at the hands of grooming gangs made up of young men from predominantly Muslim backgrounds.
I am proud that UKIP never got suckered into that mindset. We have been the whistle-blowers, not the turners of blind eyes. And yes, it was horrible to be falsely accused of racism, but hey guess what, we're used to that.
And yes, almost every woman still has to deal with male chauvinist attitudes from time to time - once in a while we even encounter them inside UKIP. But you know what, when we encounter a bloke who is treating us as second class citizens we feel perfectly entitled to put him straight, don't we ladies?
We are the fortunate ones - of course we are, we are in UKIP.
We need to bring our brand of common-sense to the wider debate; some plain speaking and honesty. It is time to campaign on these issues from a position of reality, not sound-bites and self-indulgent tokenism. It is time to campaign as only UKIP can to bring some real change to real lives by proposing real solutions.