Sophie Walker, a 46-year-old former journalist and the leader of Great Britain’s fledgling Women’s Equality Party, is running for office in the Shipley voting district near Baildon, England. The resident lawmaker of the district, Philip Davies, is perhaps best known for having blocked a bill aimed at “preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” because he considered it discriminatory against men.
“I was sick of women being put in the back of manifestos and was fed up with the drip, drip of sexism I had experienced all my life,” Walker told NBC News in an interview. Aiding her in her quest for office, she added, were many locals who she said were “embarrassed to be voting for Davies.”
Davies, who is now running for a fourth term of elected office in Shipley, is no political pushover. He won 50 percent of the vote in the 2015 election, beating out a field that featured five other candidates. And despite Davies’ occasional rants against “feminist zealots” and his failed attempt at changing the name of Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee so that the “women” part was excluded, it’s Walker, Davies insists, that is “sexist” — not him.
“All I have ever said — as people can see from my speeches — is that all legislation should apply equally to men and women,” Davies claimed in April. “How that can be sexist is beyond me. It is Ms. Walker who is a politically correct sexist.”
In reaction to the Davies’s denunciation of “feminist zealots” and his declaration that he’d vote for Donald Trump “in a heartbeat,” a group calling themselves the Shipley Feminist Zealots organized a 1,000 person march in protest of the lawmaker. But even among voters who take Davies’ sexism as a given, not all are convinced Walker’s candidacy is the solution. Labour voters are concerned Walker could split the liberal vote. And some villagers, like Howard Russel, a 73-year-old florist, said they were willing to put Davies’ possible sexism aside.
“I’m not saying it’s right,” said Russel. “But I was born in Shipley and have lived here all my life so it’s the local issues which really count for me.”
Read the full story at NBC News.