Sonia Sodha

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Sonia Priya Sodha (born June 1981) is a British columnist, author and former political aide. She has written as a columnist and leader writer for The Guardian and The Observer. She was a senior adviser to Labour Party's Ed Miliband during the period Miliband was Leader of the Opposition.




  • The lasting legacy of the financial crisis on Britain’s electoral landscape was not to shift our political centre of gravity to the left, but to shake the faith of voters in the capacity of mainstream politics to provide solutions. "You’re all the same" is a common refrain heard on the doorstep. It was this cynicism that created fertile territory for the SNP and Ukip: both Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage have successfully positioned themselves against a remote Westminster elite.
  • [W]atching Barack Obama charm his way into our hearts here in Britain has reminded me of how brilliant he is at – well, just talking to people. Whether addressing a nation on TV, getting a grilling from journalists or rolling up his sleeves and taking a Q&A in a roomful of young people, he knows how to connect in a way no other present-day politician can.
    Over the past days, we’ve seen him articulate the positive case for Britain remaining in the EU better than any UK politician has done. He’s answered tricky questions in a way that comes across as authentic and honest, even daring to say: "I don’t know" to some of them. He’s challenged people who have said things he disagrees with in a way that somehow makes you like him more. When one young woman in the "town hall" yesterday morning apologised for being emotional, he said crying was fine and joked he feared she was going to come up on stage and do a dance with him.
  • If we were to carry on rolling back state-funded care in Britain, it would inevitably be women who’d feel obliged to give up work to care for older relatives, storing up financial problems for their own old age. Some ageing people without family members willing to care for them would simply fall through the cracks.
    Even those whose families could do this might find themselves physically taken care of but with their emotional health suffering as relationships break down under the strain. Duty might kick in, but we would be kidding ourselves if we thought we could reverse-engineer the evolutionary urge to make huge sacrifices for our children.
    That’s not to say that it’s not lovely when some opt for a more multi-generational family life. But it should be an active choice. Structuring the state in a way that forces people to embrace a Mediterranean approach is wrong. We can’t answer the question of how big we want the state to be without asking how much our families should feel obliged to do for us – and how much we care about the potential price in terms of growing social and gender inequality.
  • Which brings me to the vegan burger. Take a step back and it seems bonkers that our political leaders hold firm on outlawing weed but seem loth to invoke the nanny state where it’s most needed: in avoiding catastrophic climate change. We won't succeed in this unless we persuade people to fly less and eat less meat and dairy.
    That’s a gargantuan task, made harder by the demotivating knowledge that your own efforts are only likely to matter if others match them. Yet the most politicians do is half-heartedly conjure up a few green taxes in the hope they’ll nudge people in the sort of right direction. But they’re not effective enough, and also hit the poorest most.
    Time for the nanny state to get more radical. We should start by banning altogether things that have literally no function, such as bottled water in a country where it’s actually safer to drink tap water. And take a leaf out of wartime Britain – climate change is no less existential a threat – and ration activities such as flying and eating meat. If you’re not that bothered about a rare steak, you can sell your coupons to someone who can’t live without a good ribeye and feel smug as you tuck into your environmentally friendly, fake-meat alternatives.
  • I hoped that if anything I ever did went viral, it would be because I’d uttered some profound insight too good not to share. Last week put paid to that dream. A BBC Breakfast video clip of myself and Sherelle Jacobs, assistant comment editor at the Telegraph, from Thursday had garnered more than 4m online views by Saturday afternoon. As much as I’d like to think it was due to my incisive Brexit analysis, I have to concede it was as a result of me being well and truly upstaged. ...
    Our clip had inspired a series of jokey tweets on Sherelle’s startled facial expression as I imparted my pearls of wisdom. ... Sherelle has reacted to her fame with the grace of a professional. And she got a lot of love (“You ROCK!!!” one admirer tweeted). My takeaway? Those media courses that say it’s 95% how you present, 5% what you say are wrong. My partner in crime ensured 0% of what I said got heard.


  • It was an effective, if painful, reminder of how |racism manifests itself: not just in words such as "Paki" but in the self-appointed white gatekeepers who see it as their business to police celebrations of the contributions made, sometimes in the face of appalling racism, by people of colour. I've lost count of the number of times I've been called a racist simply for acknowledging the ethnicity of the medical professionals who gave their lives to keep us safe.
    So it’s worth reiterating why the skin colour of our fallen NHS heroes matters. It’s not just that outright racism and rising levels of Islamophobia affect the wellbeing of NHS workers willingly risking their lives to keep us all safe, it is that, as the General Medical Council has acknowledged, BAME medics face structural racism. And the government's anti-immigration rhetoric continues to legitimise discrimination at the frontline.
  • Its simplicity may be alluring, but it is wrong and alienating to see all white people as potential Derek Chauvins, just as it is wrong and alienating in the context of #MeToo to see all men as potential Harvey Weinsteins. Blaming people may feel good but it won't lead to structural change. There has to be a middle ground: of asking people to take responsibility and to step up as allies without alienating them by telling them how terrible they are first.
    It's not fair or just that those who face racism and other forms of structural discrimination have to put so much thought into how they make the case for eliminating it. But we do need to develop better and non-combative approaches to helping people understand the nature of racism and how it manifests itself in society today.
  • Gender-non-conforming behaviour is something to be celebrated, rather than the basis for teaching children that they may have been born in the wrong body, as some schools now do. There are many reasons why children and young people may experience gender dysphoria: it may be a sign that a child will go on to have a fixed trans identity in adulthood, but can also be associated with discomfort about puberty, grappling with same-sex attraction and childhood trauma. There is a coincidence with autism.
    Yet the NHS has ignored this in embracing gender ideology's unevidenced affirmative model and has put growing numbers of young people on the path of irreversible medical treatment that can make them infertile and has potentially significant risks for their brain and physical development, without adequately exploring the reasons for their gender dysphoria.


  • [On the probation service in England and Wales] Just like in every other part of the criminal justice system, there is a fatal minimisation of the risk that violent men pose to women and children. Monitoring resembles box-ticking rather than a dynamic assessment of risk. Is this offender complying with his licence conditions (and even on this basic test there have been serious failures)? Is he in a new relationship? Might he come into contact with children? It takes a sophisticated professional to see through the manipulation of a narcissistic male abuser in order to accurately assess those risks.
  • This is the double injustice of the criminal justice system for women. Male violence against women and children is not accorded equal priority to other forms of violence. And although sex-based differences in patterns of violence mean it is vanishingly rare that a woman will genuinely be a danger to society, female offenders are treated as though they are violent men.
  • The downside for gender ideology campaigners is that their position has been subject to far more forensic examination in the courts than they previously experienced in parliament or civil society. In court, Mermaids' chair made the extraordinary claim that it doesn’t "give advice on medical stuff" despite evidence that it has lobbied the NHS to lower the age limit for medical transition and helped draft NHS service specifications. Another witness for Mermaids claimed that anyone can identify as a lesbian, whether or not they are female. In other court cases, Stonewall witnesses have effectively argued that it is transphobic to distinguish between gender identity and sex.
  • I've had attempts to try and get me kicked off charitable boards. I've been doxxed [having personal information published] online by people who disagree with me on this issue. I've had my home address published online. It's just an example of how toxic and polarised this debate is.
  • Women account for three-quarters of criminal convictions for watching live TV services or BBC iPlayer without a licence, and a huge chunk of all criminal convictions against women, one-third, are for non-payment of the licence. Are women really 50% more likely to engage in evasion than men, or are they getting disproportionately lumbered with convictions?
  • The one thing we do have system-wide information on, though, is the huge gender-based disparities in the conviction rate. Under pressure, the BBC last year commissioned an investigation into why the burden falls so heavily on women: it is because women are more likely to head single-parent households; more likely to be home when an inspector visits; more likely to answer the door to an inspector; and more likely to be living in poverty or in low-paid work and struggling with bills.
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