Marking a sad chapter in the recent history of this country’s bristle with authoritarian rule, the retreating threat of COVID is no longer a defensible reason to keep the British public in a permanent state of suspended animation, unless another baseless emergency can take its place. For those diametrically opposed to the outlandish idea that ordinary people can and will manage their own risk, the show must go on, and the first heads to roll, it is being suggested, is the entire population of biological men, should those at Parliament, agitating the mob in the wake of the brutal murder of Sarah Everard, get their wicked way.
It cannot be denied, the murder of a young women is tragic, as is the fate of any woman who has suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a violent predator. But you would be forgiven for thinking the political reaction to this event has been a tad overkill. Though there were 207 femicides in Britain last year, none were deserving of royal patronage. Nor were national movements cobbled together to do the unofficial bidding for the Labour Party. Nor was it common practice for 6pm curfews to be called for all men, by politicians on the left, occupying a moral high ground so remote, it is accessible only by a real stretch of the imagination.
But all of this did happen. In keeping with the tradition of risk, established by the public’s cheer for COVID regulations, politicians would have you believe that one social group is in grave danger from another, who stalks by moonlight in the long grass of suburbia. Recollecting the identity politics of Black Lives Matter and the protection of certain minority groups over the vilification of others.
This fomenting of public hysteria around personal tragedy reveals a political establishment hell-bent on making someone else’s misfortune their own consolation. Take for example, Jess Philips, MP, standing at the political pulpits last week reading out the names of British women murdered by men, as a macabre battlecry to British feminism. Inspiring Baroness Jones to call for a 6pm curfew for all men, in spectacular ignorance of the fact that most women killed by men in this country die at the hands of a partner or ex, and very often inside their own homes.
The next risk-manager to this male-oriented witch hunt was the First Minister of Wales, who suggested that the temporary local curfew of men could be the solution to making women feel safer at night. Though he later retracted his statement, Mark Drayford’s tribute to womankind is not without irony. His son is serving an eight year prison sentence for a violent and prolonged sexual attack.
What is equally striking, however, is that the man charged with Sarah Everard's murder is a diplomatic protections officer serving with the Met. Reinforcing the principle that it is the establishment, and not ordinary folks, who have always had the monopoly on violence.
Extrapolating the data on femicide
For a political establishment intent on ruling by science and data, they have missed the most crucial statistics on femicide by some distance. Using the most up to date information from the Femicide Census: of the 149 women killed in 2018, 61% were killed by their current or former partner, 20% by a family member, neighbour or acquaintance, and 6% were killed by a stranger. On the basis of these 9 tragic deaths, they would lock down the entire male population. They would enforce stay at home orders, despite domestic abuse killings doubling since lockdowns were first imposed.
Of course, the UK is slightly behind the curve of this fait accompli, which, as it turns out, has been in full swing for months. The World Economic Forum (renowned for its coronavirus dress rehearsal), warned back in November of a ‘global pandemic of femicide’, echoing the UN’s calls for nations to take urgent action, and the publication of the UK’s Femicide Consensus.
Now that this agenda has finally landed on our shores, so too has something eerily familiar. Something that harkens back to Britain's biggest manhunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, who murdered at least 13 women, remained at large for half a decade, yet bristled against a fraction of the limelight, sensationalism, and knee-jerk calls for drastic reforms to Britain's laws. In spite of the fact that Sarah Everard's suspected murderer was behind bars within days of her disappearance, politicians would have you believe that all women are at risk, all men are perpetrators, and the one size fits all blunt instrument of lockdown is key to national restitution.
Reclaim the Night
While the Yorkshire Ripper was at large, a movement was established in Leeds in 1977. Reclaim the Night campaigned for women to take to the streets, against a slew of police incompetence and calls for all women to be held under curfew. Paying homage to this movement, a group of activists have set up camp on Twitter. At the time of writing this, Reclaim These Streets have 35,000 followers. Their vigil at Clapham Common is front page news and cheered on by the usual identitarians and woke brigade from the labour party, lockdowns most ardent vanguards, and other erstwhile defenders of the police’s ‘impeccable’ track record at anti-lockdown protests.
Now here's the thing. For a nation deprived of meaning and national pastimes, most will readily on-board with whatever morally acceptable, high-brow ideology trends across this island. And fortuitously for the British public, the murder of Sarah Everard lands on the agenda with impeccable timing, meaning few are immune from the infectiousness of this poor girls tragic plight.
But there is also something deeply political happening here. The violence meted out by the police to the the women mourning Sarah Everard's death, will come as no surprise to the countless anti-lockdown protestors who have suffered horrendous police brutality while campaigning on behalf of the rights of every man, woman and child, afflicted by these lockdowns. Heads have been routinely cracked, organisers locked up for 22 hours, and Piers Corbyn, a pensioner at 73, has spent countless Saturday nights at her Majesty’s pleasure, without, of course, a fraction of the media coverage or political commiserations bestowed upon the heroic victims of this weekend's vigil.
Amongst the first apologists to weigh in on the disturbing but all too familiar scenes of police violence, the Home Secretary and Mayor of London both called for an immediate investigation into the policing of the vigil, in spectacular contradiction of their unflinching support for the same heavy handed police tactics used at every anti-lockdown protest.
Cheerleading this movement from the front lines, one of the principal organisers of Reclaim These Streets, is Caitlin Prowle, Labour Party activist, parliamentary assistant to Nick Smith, MP and GMB Union member and author. It may come as some surprise to the women holding vigil at Clapham Common, that the GMB Union (which helped found the Labour Party in 1900) have consistently called on Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson to postpone the re-opening of all schools in England. This is despite the impact which school closures have had on marginalised families, occupying small flats and struggling to make ends meet, who are statistically more at risk of domestic violence and indeed femicide, and who have been consistently let down by the GMB’s lockdown fanaticism.
The politicisation of activism by major party politics that culminated in Keir Starmer taking the knee was such a runaway success, this time they decided to wheel out the Duchess of Cambridge as the patron saint of Sarah Everard. But these events come at an important time. Europe is on the verge of mass-insurrection. As we approach the one year anniversary of the first lockdown, national protests are scheduled across Europe, including the UK, on the 20th March. Borrowing heavily from the Black Lives Matter protests that also engulfed the US at a time of mass uprising, following the death of another protected social group, at the hands of another police officer, the Reclaim These Streets movement could turn out to be a godsend for the political establishment that would further polarise the public (as Black Lives Matter did last year), when unification and solidarity, in the face of rampant tyranny, is what is needed. What is not required is another popularity contest or identity parade that pits one side of this country against another.