On Tuesday February 6, I went to Manchester for a speech by Theresa May to mark the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote.
May didn’t waste any time and went straight into key arguments, making sure men and women alike do not forgot the efforts made by their courageous predecessors. One such individual is Emmeline Pankhurst who gave up her free time to fight for women’s equality. May stated that she learnt the wonders of her from her grandmother!
The PM questioned why it is that women still suffer inequality despite these efforts, and one reply is the advancements of the Internet. Past election campaigns have seen women in the public eye bullied and threatened online. Such bullying has caused senior Labour politician, Claire Kober, who was leader of Haringey Council to feel so distraught by the abuse from those within her own party that she quit.
May commented that this was a terrible example of how a woman was made to give up her long-running career in public life, at a time when women are being celebrated.
That is why the PM wants social media companies to take a strong stand in helping tackle these problems and fixing existing loopholes. A recent study supporting May’s concerns, showed how in the last general election many candidates across all political persuasions made reports to the police that they were being intimidated and trolled on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. From an analysis of 840,000 abusive Tweets, the University of Sheffield and Buzzfeed found that 50 per cent of these were targeted at big names like Boris Johnson and Mrs. May herself!
This is the likely reason for the PM declaring in her speech that the government will be publishing an Internet Safety Paper this spring, with the aim of solving such issues by developing children’s digital literacy and creating technological solutions to online hate crime.
Even though I am not a great fan of May, I did feel that she has a sincere desire to show that the government are keen to listen to all voices, and stamp out those that wish to abuse and belittle others. In one example that felt like a very subtle attack on Donald Trump, she spoke about reviewing the sustainability of British printed media and her desire for the public to read good quality journalism, whether it is national, regional or local.
Unlike her American ‘friend’, May understands the importance of newspapers and if many were to shut down, then this would be ‘dangerous for democracy’.
She also indicated that the government would review the sustainability of the British printed press by considering funding models to ensure the public read responsible, quality journalism:
‘When trusted and credible news sources decline, we can become vulnerable to news which is untrustworthy’.
I very much enjoyed the day (though not the weather) and met a few people from different organisations, as well as fellow journalists from the likes of ITV when sitting in the press room and sharing their box of jelly beans!
Many interesting points were raised, but the main argument was that the government wants to create more diversity for all groups like BME individuals. The ITV journalist then quoted one individual, now sadly deceased. Jo Cox, who will always be remembered:
‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us …’
Comments from attendees:
Cllr. Joe Porter (Parish Councillor for Endon with Stanley
‘I really enjoyed the speech and felt that the factors she spoke about are highly important. I would like to see the country go forward, such as having more respect for young LGBT people and for them to get involved more. I truly feel that May is setting the right example and is taking this country in the right direction. I further feel that she is doing a lot for social injustice in general’.
Debate Mate Charity — Young person I spoke to from the charity
‘May’s speech was very good. She said we have made some progress, which is true, but there is still a long way to go. Between us (the group), we were debating whether May is discussing the issues women [generally] face or whether this is just a coincidence of her being a woman? However, we did feel it was good for the Conservatives to talk about something other than Brexit!’