There was nothing brave about Laura Pidcock’s speech
Laura Pidcock, the newly elected Labour MP for North West Durham, made her maiden speech in parliament last week. The speech has gone viral, and she has been celebrated as the new Mhairi Black – a young woman ready to shake up Westminster.
Pidcock’s speech was primarily concerned with praising, and promising to represent, her constituents. But in her closing comments she turned her attention to parliament. ‘This building is intimidating, it reeks of the establishment and of power’, she said. ‘It was built at a time when my class and my sex would have been denied a place within it because we are deemed unworthy.’ Her speech was shared thousands of times on social media, and praised as ‘explosive’ and ‘epic’ for ‘tearing into’ the establishment.
The speech wasn’t inspiring – it was infantilising. And vaguely ridiculous. She was talking up her own victimhood by pointing out that parliament used to be openly sexist and elitist. Pidcock is apparently unaware that a record number of female MPs were elected in the recent General Election. Many women, herself included, are clearly not afraid of becoming politicians. Like so many other smirking young MPs in recent years, Pidcock is playing to the right-on gallery in pursuit of retweets.
Coincidentally, in the same week that Pidcock’s four minutes of fame were doing the rounds on Twitter, another video of a young woman went viral. An iPhone video showed a Kurdish fighter from the Women’s Protection Units on a balcony during a shootout with ISIS in Raqqa. A bullet narrowly misses her head and hits the wall behind her. She responds by ducking, sticking out her tongue, and laughing.
The contrast is stark. While the Kurdish fighter is willing to put her life on the line in pursuit of freedom, refusing to be cowed by murderous men, Pidcock plays up her own vulnerability, claiming to be cowed by the rich men of past parliaments. There’s nothing brave about making yourself a victim.
Ella Whelan is assistant editor at spiked. Follow her on Twitter: @Ella_M_Whelan