Thursday, 11 June 2009

Reading between the lines

Ok, just a brief one (at least intentionally, but these things tend to grow...) to point out a particular piece of reportage

Now, just to clarify, I don't want to comment on the whole Labour CTD* issue. I' just commenting on this particular article.

Firstly I'm concerned about an accusation that women in the Cabinet are "Window dressing" (Flint's words not mine) which, considering she herself has recently been involved in a photo shoot for some glossy fashion magazine (unspecified), plus the official reason for her resignation was that she didn't feel she was trusted by Brown, does seem to have a scary ring of truth about it. Are our female ministers just vote-winning "window dressing"? hmm.... Now you can accuse me of having watched too much Yes Minister recently, but it would be worrying if absolutely nothing has actually changed in politics, whilst at the same time the illusion has been created that some things have moved on...

Secondly, I'm concerned at this section:

"The week had also seen the resignations of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and some other ministers before Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell walked out on Thursday evening with an open call for Mr Brown to quit.

This was widely seen as part of coordinated attempt to challenge Mr Brown's position as Labour leader, but Ms Flint said she was not part of any plotting.

She said "negative briefings" from Downing Street had wrongly attempted to suggest she was part of a group of senior Labour women ministers wanting to unseat Mr Brown."

I'm sorry, a conspiracy of women? Who form considerably less than 20% of the government? Being able to de-stabilize the PM? Surely not.

I've been looking, and can't at the minute find a comprehensive list of all the people who've resigned from Labour over the past few weeks, but looking at the quote above, I'm starting to worry that it's not disproportionately the women who have been leaving. If it is actually them making a decision to leave, then fine, it almost suggests that they have principles, but if it's them being forced out, made into a convenient scapegoat (and isn't it telling that both Blears and Smith are out - the two most prominent (powerful?) female politicians that we had...) and quietly got rid of in order to preserve this lovely little boys-club that is parliament...

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but it's at least as likely as saying there's a plot against the PM coming from "senior women ministers". I'm not going to draw any firm conclusions at the minute, but as the facts stand, we have a lot of senior women in government "resigning", one amid an acusation that women in parliament are merely "window dressing" and that the PM doesn't trust them. Is it too much of a leap to suggest that maybe women in government aren't particulalrly welcomed by their male collegues?

*Old doctor-slang.