Claire Perry, Marlborough’s outspoken Tory MP who has demanded that the Fawcett Society appoint Conservative trustees, has been rebuffed by the liberal feminist group that promotes women’s rights.
The society, founded in 1866 by early suffragette campaigner Millicent Fawcett, and largely led the feminist movement in the 1970s, has a board of trustees dominated by left-wing activists.
And it has been seeking a judicial review of the 2010 coalition government Budget on the basis that it did not fully assess its impact on women, many hit by tax credit and benefit changes.
Now Mrs Perry, chairman of the Conservative Women’s Forum, has joined the society together with other leading Tory female MPs, among them Home Secretary Theresa May, are calling for it to appoint Tory trustees because, under charity law, it has to be politically neutral.
“We believe in more female participation,” declares Mrs Perry in an interview in the Daily Telegraph. “We have suggested to them that they look for some Conservative representation.”
“We have said to them, ‘ it is very interesting that you consider yourselves to be a charity because as far as we can see none of your trustees are anything other than lefties – labour or liberals. Have you ever had a Conservative trustee?’ ”
“If you look at the literature it is drawn straight from the TUC’s ‘Bash the Tories’ pocketbook. It is rubbish and it is factually incorrect.”
But the society has pointed out that all its trustees are elected by a ballot of the full membership.
“Any Fawcett Society member may stand for election to the board,” replies Ceri Goddard, the society’s chief executive. “We make a point of publicly advertising vacancies, and actively encourage applications from all political backgrounds.”
“The board are asked with ensuring the society is effectively managed and also hold certain legal and financial duties. Whatever the government of the day, it’s our role to hold them to account on women’s rights, but as a charity we are strictly non-party political and non partisan.”
Mrs Perry says her colleagues have objected to the fact that the society “defined women as victims, who are entirely dependent on the state for their well being”, and “never talked” about successful women.
You need humility to be a good Tory MP says Claire
Claire Perry has called on Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps to continue forcing constituency parties to ensure that women account for half of the shortlists for new parliamentary seats.
“Fifty-fifty was great,” she tells the Daily Telegraph. “It works really well, It shows if you have got enough quality candidates, you can get them to the finals.”
And she suggested that some female Tory candidates, who were successful in business, were not humble enough to be good MPs, humility being a requirement for all MPs
She points out: “It is a very multi-faceted job and you have to be prepared and there is a lot of humility that comes with it.
I think often for women, who have been fighting their way through their careers and are very high powered, they often forget how to be humble.
“You can be too strident, too impressive in the selection process.”
The Fawcett Society had, for example, ignored the fact that the Coalition had for the first time funded victim support and rape crisis centres for three years.
“This was completely unreported by the Fawcett Society,” she declares. “We have said ‘do you support this, why do you never talk about it?’ ”
“It is because you can’t bring yourself to talk about it. This is not about women, this is about Labour, you are a mouth piece for the Labour party. They are so uncomfortable.”
Her outburst follows the surprising fact that, though Prime Minister David Cameron promoted four women MPs in his government reshuffle, the overall impact was that women had lost out with leading women Tory MPs being either sacked or demoted.