With wearying predictability, Philip Davies has imposed
himself upon International Men’s Day, much like a particularly
slow-witted wasp invading a picnic.
Davies clearly sees the day as an opportunity for him to lay
into everything he hates; namely political correctness and feminists.
His intervention reads more as an attack on privileges he believes
women enjoy, rather than anything to do with helping men,
and this is not new for him.
It is extremely sad that Philip Davies has become some sort of
spokesman for masculinity. There are very good reasons to support International Men’s Day; the issue of high suicide rates amongst
younger males for one.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably continues to do great
work in this area.
It is a great shame that IMD will be hijacked by Davies and
weird MRAs in order to promote their agendas.
It doesn’t seem to register that he does genuine damage to the
causes behind IMD, or that it is actually possible to care
about men’s and women’s welfare simultaneously.
This is not a zero-sum game.
Yet Davies’ approach is very much in keeping with the times;
it is just another form of the suffocating populist politics
currently in the ascendancy.
Defining populism to be a politics which carves the world into
a downtrodden “us” and an aloof, all-powerful elite “them”,
where the “elite” are the cause of all problems, we can view Davies attempting to construct a sort of male populism.
For this to work, of course, Davies needs to establish women as
some sort of ruling elite; risible to anyone with half a brain,
but Davies’s rhetoric is full of it. Of how political correctness
has “neutered” men, or of how “women grab all the headlines”.
Whilst this is self-evidently ridiculous, it is a theme of our times.
Donald Trump is somehow lauded as leading a revolt against
“the elite” from a golden tower which is named after him.
Nigel Farage, a former commodities trader in the City and an
MEP for seventeen years, similarly claims the mantle
of the outsider.
None of this makes any sense, yet the elite and the privileged
leading a revolt nominally against itself does appear to be
So should the left now turn to populism as well?
This is a suggestion I’ve seen made quite often since Trump’s victory,
such as the headline on this Owen Jones piece (although I note that
the article itself is more nuanced and doesn’t quite argue for that).
What would a left populism mean in practice? Presumably it would
involve the left identifying an out-group which it believes is
responsible for all society’s ills, and claiming that these problems
will go away if we punish this out-group.
This isn’t a healthy politics.
We should be looking to drain populism from the political
bloodstream, rather than promoting it. Encouraging anger at an
“elite” as a valid political response is feeding a populist crocodile
that the left will not be able to control.
I suspect, is it an approach that the left can win at.
The far-right is simply better at exploiting and directing anger;
if this is the field of battle, the left will lose.
The Labour left protested bitterly when the party abstained on the
welfare bill, in a foolish attempt to appease voters who doubted
Labour’s fiscal credibility.
Wouldn’t chasing populism now because
it appears to be successful be a similar error?
What is needed now is cool heads and strong hearts.
A willingness to listen to voters doesn’t mean we have to offer
the same solutions that appear to be prevailing at this
We need to rethink how we can best promote our values,
and I intend to post some ideas on that soon, but pursuing a
divisive politics is the wrong way to go.
Brexit isn’t an excuse to exclude Remain supporters from the
political conversation. IMD isn’t a platform to attack and
We must understand that, best intentions not withstanding,
our politics has also proved an exclusionary one for a critical
mass of the population.
We adapt to that, or we die.
Happy International Men’s Day.
If you wish to donate to the Campaign Against Living Miserably,
a charity which aims to reduce the suicide rate in young men,
the website is here