The questionable legacy of Theresa May
The question of whether Theresa May is a feminist champion posed by Martha Gill in her opinion piece (Journal, 15 July), surely depends on what sort of feminism you are talking about. As a socialist feminist, the idea that one of the great movements of human liberation in our times could be reduced to getting a few more female Tory MPs into parliament is truly depressing.
Gill acknowledges that Tory austerity policies have been terrible for working-class women, but makes no mention of how the scandals of Windrush, Grenfell and the hostile policy towards asylum seekers and immigrants, which can be directly traced to May’s time at the Home Office, show class politics at its most brutal and demonstrate indifference to the lives of the most vulnerable women.
I could never understand those who celebrated figures like Margaret Thatcher as female firsts when she had no interest in, and actually worked against the liberation of, most women. Feminism is about taking structural inequality seriously. It needs to be allied to anti-racist and class-based solidarity movements because it is a movement for equality and justice for all women, not just a means of ensuring equal representation among the ranks of the establishment. Having a few more Tory women elected to a position where they can continue to defend their own class interests and work against most women is nothing to do with feminism as I understand it.
• Martha Gill says Theresa May “stood up for victims of domestic abuse”. Is this the same Theresa May who led a government whose austerity policies resulted in funding cuts for women’s refuges, a number of which have had to close as a result? These closures will have put many women’s lives at risk.
• I think you are too kind to Theresa May (Editorial, 18 July). She has, on occasions, made speeches that might indicate her being “cognisant of responsibilities attached to her office”, but her actions have rarely lived up to these. As home secretary she increased the already high level of institutional racism with the hostile environment policy, and as prime minister she talked about those “just about managing” while worsening their position with increasing cuts to welfare benefits.
• Any assessment of Theresa May’s performance over the past three years would be incomplete without noting her failure to respond adequately to the human suffering arising from the fire at Grenfell Tower. It would seem that the associated legacy is one of fading interest in resolving the safety issues in a timely fashion, and slowing down the process of requiring landlords to listen to tenants rather than just banking their rent money (Government inaction putting lives at risk after Grenfell – MPs, 18 July).
• You have to wonder at the mind of a prime minister who can rail at Brexit absolutists (May swipes at ‘rancour and hatred’ of Brexit absolutists, 18 July) after fronting a minority government kept in office only by a party of the 10 most uncompromising MPs in the UK, having set her own red lines without consulting with other parties on what kind of Brexit we should have, and who put forward the same rejected plan over and over because she could conceive of no other way forward.
Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire
• Theresa May could give real effect to her “coded swipe” at the Brexiters who undermined her premiership by using her final day as prime minister to revoke article 50.
West Drayton, London
• I note Theresa May’s advocacy of enhanced paternity leave (Journal, 19 July) and wonder if she’d consider making it compulsory. That way, who knows how many days a possible future prime minister would be kept from his office and prevented from inflicting more damage on the country.
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