A Mumsnetter’s response to Paul Mason

On the 7th
of November Paul Mason, an author and former broadcaster on BBC’s Newsnight
programme and on the Channel 4 news, wrote an article in the Guardian newspaper
titled: “Bond traders, Trots and Mumsnetters must unite against Farage’s mob”.  The gist of the article was about the rise of
right-wing populism and the danger it poses through its’ mass movement founded
on hate, as seen in Donald Trump’s racist rallies. In the UK UKIP is
threatening to gather 100,000 supporters outside the Supreme Court on 5
December when the appeal hearing starts on the Brexit judgement. 

The backdrop to the Supreme Court hearing is the judgement previously passed by the High Court stating that the Government must offer MPs a vote on the terms of Article 50. The Government has maintained all along that it does not have to consult with MPs because the result of the referendum in May is all that is needed for it to go ahead with Brexit. 

Paul Mason,
in his article, states that left-wingers who are: “
Anti-racists, globalists and believers
in the virtues of science over mumbo-jumbo are still winning elections…”
but progressive politics is being drained of its
resilience. While the left is capable of fighting back Paul Mason
makes clear that the “effort is going to exhaust us unless we
become more radical”.
The fight back, he claims, is the responsibility of
the left to orchestrate through “an
alliance of bond traders, Trots and Mumsnetters”.

As a
left-wing feminist mother Mumsnetter this article, to me, was a ‘call to arms’ to
stand up for the values and norms that protect our children’s rights and
freedoms. Put simply, I don’t want my daughter growing up in a society where
right-wing populism touting the language of racism and xenophobia coupled with
knee-jerk reactions that command stupid headlines in right-wing newspapers is
the staple everyday lingo and mind set.

I have blogged about this in a post which describes my
experience of living in a country where the judiciary is not independent. There
is no way that I would want my daughter growing up in similar circumstances.

Paul Mason
writes about the momentum behind people like Trump and Farage that comes from
populism that is “moving fast”. The
left needs to catch up and the first priorities are to make a “rhetorical break with neoliberalism”.

associated features of neoliberalism are: “the doctrine of austerity, inequality,
privatisation, financial corruption, asset bubbles and technocratic hubris.”

Given the way austerity has been pursued it has become easy for the
right to claim it as a necessary way of life so that, among other reasons, our
children aren’t saddled with national debt when they are older. Paul Mason,
however, states that “It is entirely
possible to construct a humane pro-business version of capitalism without these

Back in 2014 I authored a chapter in a book titled:
Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism’. My chapter was called: ‘Austerity and
Gender Neutrality: The Excluding of Women and Mothers from Public Policy in the
. I provided an analysis of the impact of austerity cuts in the UK on
mothers. Much of women’s economic prosperity and ability to access services has
been reshaped in accordance with a neoliberal framework that disregards women’s
wellbeing and autonomy in society. 

Despite much evidence that points to how our
lives have been made poorer materially by austerity the feminization of poverty
has continued through benefit cuts, welfare caps and the withdrawal of various

Neoliberalism is presented as a ‘no
other option’ scenario when, in actual fact, it is a choice made by elected
leaders. Austerity places more pressure on women, especially mothers who are
struggling economically. 

I haven’t had a pay increase in my public sector job
for 7 years now. A ‘no option’ austerity package plays into the hands of
right-wing populism by allowing them to create and dominate a political space
that crowds out respect for women’s rights and establishes a political culture
in which it’s fair game to be sexist and racist.

Paul Mason ends his article by pointing out that the left
needs to become populist and offer an alternative narrative and way forward.
This is critical, he states, due to the collapse of the “extreme centre”.

A key part of this left populism should be about mother
centric policies such as childcare and adequate social care because it is
largely women, many of them mothers themselves, who look after children and
older parents through unpaid labour. Mothers need an education system that is
less about grades and more about education in a broad sense, a rational social
based housing policy, better paid jobs and security of work. We want safe
spaces for our children through an adequate provision of leisure and play

There is much for mothers to collaborate around. Political
capital does lie with us to reclaim political space and values.

Paul Mason concludes by stating that:  “If Nigel Farage leads 100,000 people to intimidate the
Supreme Court, I intend to be on the other side of a police crash barrier
opposing him. I don’t want to be flanked by only my anti-fascist mates from 30
years ago: I want to see an alliance of the left and the radical centre on the
streets. That means bond traders from Canary Wharf, arm in arm with
placard-carrying Trots. Masked-up Kurdish radicals alongside Mumsnet posters. Eighty years on from
Cable Street, we don’t have many dockers and miners around, to help face down
rightwing intimidation. Puny as we are, it’s up to us”.



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