Rise of Sarah Palin’s “mama grizzlies”

Exclusive: why Tory MPs Nadine Dorries and Louise Bagshawe love Palin power

In my article in this week's magazine on the growing phenomenon of conservative women's movements in the US (which will be published in full on the site on Monday), two Tory MPs reveal their admiration for Sarah Palin and her troupe of "mama grizzlies" in the Tea Party:

Nadine Dorries MP says, "I think Sarah Palin is amazing. I totally admire her."

Louise Bagshawe MP describes Palin as a "remarkable figure": "I watched her acceptance speech at the Republican party conference and it seemed to me that it was a glorious moment, a birth of a new political star."

Bagshawe also identifies closely with Palin's socially conservative agenda. Here's a short extract from the piece:

Like some of her American sisters, Bagshawe is also anti-abortion. "I've never had a problem with being pro-life and a feminist," she says. "I don't consider them to be at all incompatible." She reveals that she is a member of a prominent US pro-life lobby group, Feminists For Life.

Dorries, meanwhile, would like to see a similar kind of uprising of stay-at-home, conservative mothers in the UK: "Do you know the people who have no voice in this country? Who are never written about, who journalists never talk about? The mums. Mums who decide that they will give up their careers and stay at home and look after their children."

From the piece:

Dorries says she has been inspired by recent events in the US - the primary victories of O'Donnell and others. With a new government in place, she senses a "wind of change" in the political atmosphere in Britain. In the last parliament, she says, it was "very difficult to talk about the family unit, and to talk about mothers and children . . . as the foundation of society, because it was seen as a very unsexy, untrendy thing to do and the opposite of what a woman should be doing". Given the sympathetic political climate, she sees an opportunity to mobilise a perceived constituency of ignored, stay-at-home mothers. "I think it's time somebody started to represent those mums," she says.

Read the full piece in this week's magazine, out today.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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