A Yorkshire MP has hit out at a council’s equality plan during a debate on International Men’s Day.
Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies co-sponsored a debate in the Commons today, which was highlighting the issues faced by men and boys.
He said: “Just this week Bradford Council have been consulting on their latest equality plan.
“They have set targets for people in jobs, including one for 65 per cent of their top five per cent of employees to be female.
“Now, I don’t believe in quotas and targets, I believe each job should be awarded on merit and merit alone. But even if you go along with all of this so-called equality, where on earth is the equality in that target?”
He said: “The leader of Bradford Council represents a ward in my constituency, with a high proportion of white working class people in it, and yet she is completely silent in a so-called equality plan about this, despite the fact she must know the disadvantage they face.”
Bradford Council was contacted for comment.
Mr Davies added that the “politically correct lobby” had “brushed under the carpet” the issue of poor educational outcomes for white, working class boys for too long.
Conservative MP for Mansfield Ben Bradley led the debate on the challenges.
But extra business scheduled in the Commons saw the debate squeezed into a 60-minute period.
Mr Bradley told MPs: “I’ve drastically shortened my contributions – our three hours have become one, which is perhaps indicative of a problem of men’s issues being pushed off the end of the agenda.
“It kind of nicely typifies the problem.”
He said the “general discourse that so often seems to pervade our society […] talks of male privilege, of toxic masculinity, and men as oppressors rather than positive contributors or role models”.
He said: “Men are talked about all too often as a problem that must be rectified, too often the constant drive for equality and diversity seeks to drag others down, rather than lift everyone up.”
And he said equality legislation “sometimes seems like it provides additional help for everyone except men and boys”.
And Rother Valley Conservative MP Alexander Stafford highlighted the importance of men’s mental health.
He said: “We do not talk about men’s mental health enough and toxic masculinity is a severe problem.”
And he cited a “grim statistic” that “men who are less well off and living in most deprived areas are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than more well off men in affluent areas”.
Mr Davies said: “Men’s suicide has been a common theme of all the past debates on International Men’s Day, and rightly so.
“As has been said suicide rates amongst men are three times higher than for women in the UK, the connection between relationship breakdown and suicide risk in western countries has been studied and I believe that the data from these studies indicates that unsurprisingly, relationship breakdown elevates suicide risk in both sexes, and more so for men.”
He said charities said that parental alienation was “the overwhelming source of that distress”.
And he added: “It is quite clear to me that we need to do a lot more to ensure fathers are not stopped from seeing their children to save lives. And in these Covid lockdown times it’s too easy to imagine how this will be causing even more mental health problems and very unfortunately, more suicides.”
Mr Stafford added said: “Now it is also worth noting that women in Rother Valley are in full support of empowering our local men.
“They see the everyday struggles of their fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, grandfathers and friends, they do not have the reductive mindset pushed by many [of the] liberal metropolitan elite of the Labour Party, where men as a whole species are blamed for gender inequality.
“Instead, they recognise that women still face substantial social inequality, and they absolutely do so. But so do many of our men.”
He said: “They feel abandoned, left behind and forgotten. It is in everybody’s interest that we raise our men’s aspirations, and help them use their inherent talents to reach their full potential.”