This is my first response to the question, "Can feminist causes be furthered by working with right wing or religious people and groups? And should we support and defend blanket free speech?"
I wholly agree with your position. Julie Bindel is an intelligent woman. However, she has made egregious statements in her last post on this topic. For example: "Our industry had been destroyed by the Thatcher government...". Bindel was 16 when Margaret Thatcher came to power: I was a working adult at the time. Thatcher inherited a country that quite literally, couldn't keep the lights on; we could only work three days a week. The country was not functioning due to actions of a belligerent, unionised workforce. The streets of London were awash with stinking refuse, due to one of many "industrial actions" by unions which were out of control and holding the country to ransom. The time was dubbed by the press as "The Winter of Discontent". I painfully remember speaking with a truck driver at the time, on the eve of a nationwide truck driver's strike. He said, without any irony: "We'll bring this country to its knees". Thatcher passed legislation to rein-in the unions. She took action to close unviable coal mines. It was not popular, but all analysts since agree that it was a necessary and inevitable action, it being futile to keep an "industry" going which involved a huge number of men working in foul conditions in mines which were practically exhausted of coal.
Regarding the scandal of the systemic rape of young white schoolgirls, there is no dispute that culture was a driving factor. The numbers are appalling - it is estimated that upwards of 250,000 girls were abused. An excellent book on this topic is "Easy Meat: Inside Britain's grooming gang scandal" by Peter McLoughlin. Despite it's lurid title, this is a scholarly piece of work, with detailed analysis and replete with references. This was published in 2016 - regrettably, many further instances of abuse have since surfaced.
Bindel astonishingly blames Thatcher for this phenomena: "the men were of Pakistani Muslim origin had turned to crime ... when the industries that had formerly supported them were destroyed, again by the Thatcher government". This seems to me to be quite ideologically deluded. The gangs that perpetrated these abuses were practically all comprised of Muslim Pakistani men. We know of their motivation from their own testimony. These Muslim men regarded young, white girls (they were always white) as immodestly dressed and thus "up for it". In support of their vile actions was the knowledge that these girls were anyway going to "burn in hell" as the infidels they were. All the available evidence points to culture as the driving force (and justification) for these terrible crimes. You might wonder how it is possible for such widespread abuse to remain undetected. Three factors have been identified: (a) a disdain by the police of the working-class, poorly educated parents who reported the abuse; (b) a fear by the police that they would appear as "racist"; and (c) a lack of coordination between police forces. On that last point, police forces in the UK were then managed regionally with little central oversight to detect a Nationwide pattern of crime.
Into this horror story emerged Tommy Robinson, whom Bindel crassly libels as "an extreme right winger and a racist thug". (nb: Islam is not a race). Robinson is the archetypical "ordinary man" railing against the changes to, and the abuses of, the English culture. He was publicly vilified at the time, though history looks upon him more kindly now. See his Oxford Union debate and make up your own mind about him.
Bindel also writes quite dismissively of Graham Linehan. This is a man who has given up his career, his friends and his marriage in the defence of women and girls. He is an heroic figure, deserving of our admiration and support. He certainly has mine.
I will not dismiss Bindel using the political slurs which she so freely makes about others, but you can see from the above that some of her views are extreme and not rooted in reality.
I think one of the problems is that the Left-Right model of politics no longer works, if it ever did.
Economically, there are those who believe that wealth should be redistributed to the poor (via government taxes and social programs etc.) vs. Those who believe in pure dog-eat-dog Capitalism, no taxes. And variations in between. This is classic Left-Right.
Authoritarily, there are those who believe in strong government control vs. Those who believe in no government control. There are Authoritarians and Anarchists on both sides of the Left-Right (e.g. Trump is a Capitalist Authoritarian and Stalin was a Communist Authoritarian; punk Anarchists are the opposite of Libertarian anarchists).
Human Rights advocates can be aligned with or against every conceivable Left-Right variation, as well as aligned with or against each other (e.g. Palestine vs. Israel is a classic example of human rights advocates and violators on both sides).
Add to this mix is Identity Politics, which is a different axis altogether, that fits with neither and both Right-Left divides and with its own internal conflicts (e.g. homosexuals vs. Transgender ideology).
I might even say that Feminism is its own thread that both intersects and stands apart from all points above!
We have to stop using the terms Left-Right except, I think for the original Economic perspective.
Damn this is good. I’ve had the same feelings as Julie (whom I love) on this left-right thing, but what a fantastic response! I will now read Julie’s next …