UK

Melanie Phillips Tells MP Feminist Argument Has Her 'Reaching For The Sick Bag'

12/01/2016 15:49 GMT | Updated 12/01/2016 16:59 GMT

Times columnist Melanie Phillips said on Tuesday she reaches "for the sick bag" when she hears people say they "don't want a gender blind curriculum".

Appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics, the writer reacted to a Government U-turn over the removal of feminism from the politics A-Level.

Schools minister Nick Gibb confirmed last night that the course will now give “all students the opportunity to study the core ideas of feminism”.

bbc daily pols

Melanie Phillips (left) and MP Rupa Huq (right)

Arguing against the U-turn, Phillips said the decision to include the subject was a "category error," and that the change was prompted by the notion that "there aren't enough women being mentioned," which she said, "is the worst sort of tokenism."

"One can say I don't want a curriculum that is blind to all kinds of people," Phillips added.

Details of the shift emerged during a House of Commons debate brought by Labour MP Rupa Huq, who debated Phillips on the show.

Huq praised A-level student June Eric-Udorie, a constituent who launched a petition signed by around 50,000 protesting against the decision.

During the parliamentary debate, the MP said: “This mooted rewriting of history is nothing short of sinister – it’s deleting women.”

Huq added: “This proposed syllabus implies that women do not belong in politics and that their contributions are not significant.

“It’s a toxic message and it’s been condemned roundly by loads of people, including the Girl Guides – you wouldn’t think that they are a radical dangerous group usually.

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In the draft proposal for the subject three core political ideologies – socialism, liberalism and conservatism – remained but feminism was dropped as a named topic.

In the debate, schools minister Nick Gibb said: “The final content will set out clearly those female political thinkers whose work should be studied. Suggestions have included Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt, Rosa Luxemburg, to name but a few.

“Feminism is an optional area of study in current specifications. It was never our intention to exclude the study of feminism from the reformed A-level and we said we would listen to the consultation which opened on 3 November and closed on 14 December.”

He added: “Following the consultation on the politics A-level, exam boards are making changes to the final content to respond to the concerns raised and we will publish our response shortly but I can assure you that the final politics A-level will give all students the opportunity to study the core ideas of feminism.”