I see the hon. Lady’s point, and I absolutely accept it. I just hope that when the papers report a similar event in reverse, she will say, “Well, that is absolutely fine.” I do not think the reports would have been the same if male pensioners had been doing to women what those female pensioners were doing to men, but if the hon. Lady is saying that she would treat both exactly the same, that is fine; that is all I ask in this particular instance. I just doubt that that would have been the general reaction.
To show how ridiculous these things are, I was recently accused of sexism, and I could not for the life of me think what the lady who complained was talking about until she explained. I had sent her an email in response to her message to me following the mass misreporting that I had blocked the Bill to deal with upskirting, when, in fact, as the Speaker confirmed afterwards, I had done nothing of the sort. I said I was
“sorry people just act like a herd without knowing the facts.”
She tweeted that I had sent her a sexist message. I was dumbfounded because I could not work out what on earth was sexist about that line. When I inquired, she sent me an email back saying that by referring to the words “people” and “herd” it sounded as though I was referring to women as cows. That is how ridiculous the situation has got. You literally could not make it up.
Then we have the pay gap, which is reported in such a way as to be sexist against men. Although the whole thing is a nonsense from start to finish—I suspect most people who complain about the pay gap have not got even the first idea how it is calculated—it seems that a pay gap against women is totally unacceptable and yet a pay gap against men is apparently a good thing—at least, it seems to be, according to organisations such as the Parliamentary Digital Service. On Parliament’s own website, on the release of its figures, it states:
“In the Parliamentary Digital Service...the mean pay gap was -5.21%. The median pay gap was revealed to be -4.16%. This negative gap”— the fact that men are paid less than women on average in that department—
“illustrates that women have a pay lead in terms of both mean and median hourly pay over men.”
The director of the Parliamentary Digital Service said:
“I am delighted that this first set of gender pay data is so encouraging for women in our organisation and I am proud to lead an organisation which is committed to ensuring equality and diversity in staff, including gender equality.”
So it seems the politically correct belief is that a pay gap is OK if it is against men. That cannot be right. We surely should not want a pay gap at all. Any pay gap must be wrong. We have a part-time pay gap in the UK that has persistently favoured women over men. I never hear anybody complaining about the part-time pay gap in this country, but we have to treat these things equally. If a pay gap is wrong, it is wrong. One cannot be right and one wrong. We can all agree with that.
This is one of the myths that has taken on an untouchable status as evidence of discrimination against women, when it is nothing of the kind, particularly given that the pay gap is not about paying someone less for the same job, which is already illegal. I wish that normally intelligent people would grasp that and do more to expose this issue for the sham that it is.
Yet again there are many more issues that I would like to cover today, but I do not have time. We have blatant discrimination against men in businesses, organisations and politics, where we are hellbent on having more women. No care is given to how that is achieved, so we now have positive discrimination, which is, as it says, discrimination. People think, not without justification, that women have been discriminated against in the past, but rather than thinking the solution is to remove that discrimination, it seems their agenda is to try to reverse it and say, “We want you to be discriminated against in the way that we were for all those years.” That kind of revenge tactic is what positive discrimination is. [Laughter.] Dawn Butler laughs, but women-only shortlists, which she may have been a beneficiary of, discriminate against men. She thinks it is funny, but the people of Blaenau Gwent did not think it was funny when Labour lost one of its safest seats in 2005 simply because it had imposed a women-only shortlist and denied a good local man with impeccable local credentials the chance of standing. He stood as an independent and won the seat, which had been one of Labour’s safest seats in the country. That indicates the hon. Lady is probably slightly out of touch with working-class Labour voters around the country.