Today has been one of those UKIP days in the papers. Farage makes them all for two reasons, firstly for a speech made at the Fishmonger’s Hall in which he talked about relative wage rates in the city, and later when he was biffed on the head by some protesters in Margate.
Looking at the second incident first, the video put out by Thanet Online is instructive. The local news service had rocked up to the venue early and spoke to a number of the rag-protest. In their traditional single-syllabic manichaeistic fashion, Farage was a Fascist, Raciiiist and wanted to brutalise all animals. Of course he is, of course he does. Stands to reason, innit.
One of the assembled thugs then takes a swing at Farage with a cardboard placard. Biffs him over the head and no doubt thinks he has struck a blow for liberty by doing so.
Except of course using tactics like this, with abuse, threats and physical violence is the stock in trade of extremism, and has been since extremism was first invented (along with dubious personal hygeine and other similarly dated concepts).
What is instructive was the response from the Kent constabulary. If it had been Cameron, Miliband or even Clegg, the placard botherer would have been picked up instantaneously and charged with affray or common assault. Instead we have that most weasely of statements out by them,
“Kent Police is investigating after a 49-year-old man was reportedly assaulted as he entered the Walpole Bay Hotel, Cliftonville, at around 3pm today. The man is not reported to have suffered an injury.”
He was reportedly assaulted? Right, so the fact that in the film of the incident we have two policeman watching as the chap swung the placard and waving their arms at him doesn’t count as “Man was assaulted”? Go figure.
The response to his City speech is however of a different order. Even the Express, our most stalwart media supporter felt driven to write in its editorial,
“Ukip has been putting its foot in its mouth again and this week’s howler comes from no less than its leader Nigel Farage when he says that women are worth less to City firms than their male colleagues for “biological reasons”, because they have babies.”
This is really unnecessary.
All women in high-flying careers recognise that mixing motherhood with a demanding job is a struggle and can be difficult for employers too.
Now they may have a point that even talking about the wage differentials in city jobs is asking for trouble, but what in fact did he say, and is their merit in it?
What did he in fact say? He made the unremarkable claim that the city runs on personal contact with clients, and if you leave work for whatever reason for a number of years, and with women that reason is generally having children, then on returning to work you will have lost the loyalty of your client base and thus will be less valuable to your employer.
He made it very clear that of those who do not take the time off it is becoming increasingly clear that women are performing as well if not better than their male counterparts and are more often than not paid commensurate with that fact. If there is an ‘ism in the city it is ‘childism’, not sexism.
This is politically controversial, that much is obvious. But is it true? It is hard to say outside anecdote as the surveys on differential wages in the city – done through looking at bonuses take a mean average across the board and, yes it is clear that men out-earn women significantly, and the most recent study is at pains to point out that the greatest differential at 27% is during the period when children are typically born. But if the surveys factored in whether women had had children, and had been out of work on maternity leave or doing the essential job of parenthood, then would the figures be so stark?
Farage at no point said that these facts were good, or moral, or advised, or to be applauded. Just that they were. Whether we like it or not it is a fact of life, and to legislate, as the European Union is trying to do to enforce wage equality in business, will in itself create a greater injustice to those who have made the often difficult decision to concentrate on their careers rather than the joys and responsibilities of parenthood.
So in order to fight an immutable fact of life with legislation we are in the process of hardwiring society against our nature. This will always be a disaster.