WOMAN’S HOUR

Minnie & EnaWell, it’s official now. Britain’s next Prime Minister will be a woman – and it’s got sod all to do with women-only shortlists. The elimination of Michael Gove from the Tory leadership contest yesterday was the price he paid for his backstabbing binge of the past few months, and few tears will be shed by the fact that the Golem of the Notting Hill Tories will not get the job he’s spent years denying he wanted after all.

So, it’s down to a two-way tie between a woman who has been entombed at the Home Office for six years and a woman who has only been in Westminster for the same period, one that few had heard of when she shared a podium with Boris during one of the EU Referendum TV debates. Conservative MPs gave Theresa May a large thumbs-up yesterday, with 60% support; but the decision ultimately rests with the Tory Party membership; and what happened when the Labour membership chose their leader last year proves that it pays not to make lazy assumptions about foregone conclusions.

Anyone old enough to remember 1990 will recall how John Major, despite brief stints as both Foreign Secretary and Chancellor, was still relatively unknown to the general public when he overtook odds-on favourite Michael Heseltine to succeed Margaret Thatcher. Theresa May has been a familiar face on the Tory frontbench for a good decade, but to imagine either that fact or her longevity as Home Secretary means she’ll be packing away her Christian Rock CDs in preparation for sticking them on the No.10 sound-system in the autumn would certainly be tempting fate.

Appointed Home Secretary for the Coalition Government in 2010, Theresa May impressed when she addressed the Association of Chief Police Officers and basically told one of the most inept and corrupt public services to put its house in order or else the Government would do it for them. But her time at the Home Office has largely been characterised by a failure to reduce immigration, an increase in the surveillance state, a willingness to curtail civil liberties, and endless extensions of anti-terrorism legislation that often place free speech and the right to criticise the Government of the day in peril. She is not a gifted public speaker, nor does she exude much in the way of charisma or force of personality; but the very absence of these particular skills leads some to believe she may possess that most cherished of prime ministerial attributes when the nation is experiencing a degree of turmoil, ‘a safe pair of hands’.

And of what of her opponent? Andrea Leadsom is such an unknown quantity that I had to check I’d spelt her name correctly when typing this. Apparently, she’s Energy Minister, though that post doesn’t come with a seat at the Cabinet table. Constantly reminding everyone on television that she had a life outside of politics before entering Parliament doesn’t necessarily make her any more credible than May in that this life was largely spent in banking, possibly the only profession ranking lower in the public estimation than politics. She is, however, playing a canny game by pointing to that pre-political existence as proof of her anti-elite credentials, something that counts for a lot after six years of the country being ruled by an Old Etonian PM; and she was of course one of the prominent Brexiteers, another factor in her favour.

Were she to simply become Tory leader, her lack of experience in high office could perhaps be something that wouldn’t act as an obstacle; neither Blair nor Cameron had any at all when they were elected leaders of their respective parties. But, lest we forget, whoever wins this contest also becomes Prime Minister. Just as well a General Election isn’t required to decide the outcome, for wooing the Conservative Party membership would seem a far easier job than wooing the entire electorate; after all, there’s only around 150,000 of them – the majority being middle-aged, middle-class and male; and most have been waiting for a woman to lead them out of the wilderness for a quarter-of-a century.

Leadsom’s positive polling amongst this group is unsurprising. By Conservative standards, May represents liberalism, whereas Leadsom has a potentially stronger appeal in the shires because she holds traditional Tory opinions on certain subjects, such as fox-hunting and gay marriage (a vote she abstained on in Parliament).

Regardless of her six years as Home Secretary, Theresa May – along with her rival for the job – now has to endure exhaustive press intrusion into her private and personal life that simply doesn’t apply to other ministerial posts. The media scrutiny will also have the time to dig deep, for the result of this contest won’t be announced until September, as neither the Government nor Parliament seem to appreciate a summer break might just have to be sacrificed this year on account of the exceptional mess the outgoing PM has left his successor to sort out. I guess I could end by saying ‘May the best woman win’; but that might be misinterpreted…

© The Editor

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10 thoughts on “WOMAN’S HOUR

  1. Although never ruling out a ‘Corbyn moment’ from the Shire Tories, selecting Andrea Leadsom would be, in the words of Sir Humphrey Appleby, a courageous move.
    But then Theresa May’s main attribute seems to have been in successfully managing to cover up extremely well how extremely badly she’s done the job of Home Secretary for six years – her notable successes are so invisible as to suggest ‘not able’ would be more appropriate.

    But that’s the problem with short-lists – even in the image above, we are merely given a choice between Minnie Cauldwell and Ena Sharples, when some would have preferred also to see Martha Longhurst on the snug’s dream-ticket.

    On the positive side, as one tit prepares to leave Downing Street, at least we seem guaranteed to get a matched pair of them next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On a semi serious note, my sense is that Leadsom will win. The Tory MP establishment has made it plain it wants a safe pair of hands, not a maverick newbe. Tut tut. But wake up and smell the coffee, Sir Edward Farquhar-Girth and Norman Boring. There is a revolution going on. Haven’t you sort of noticed? In the Labour Party, the Parliamentary Party has been overruled by the 700,000 or “so right” on croc wearing middle class morons who think they know better than anyone – and maybe they do. Certainly they know better than Margaret Becket, a woman so terminally stupid that she enjoys caravan holidays and helped nominate Corbyn to “ensure a democratic process” – one of the most spectacular own goals in post war political history. Pure comedy gold.
    But the revolution continues. The wrong people – common people, and even worse, small minded lower middle class white people voted to leave the EU! Intolerable!
    If I may broaden the discussion slightly, I heard the inevitable (I MUST) stop listening Islington Wimmin’s Collective Chablis quaffing leftist asserting that it was quite wrong to proclaim another breakthrough for women’s rights, because the conservative party was full of “old, pale, miserable, stupid white men.” Let’s reverse that and say that Labour must be ignored because “it is full of young, trendy, excitable, stupid black men.” And cue visit from the Police.
    Her point was essentially this: the wrong kind of voters having voted the wrong way, the wrong party had elected – I choose my worlds carefully – the wrong kind of woman.
    And there you have the problems of the immense division in our country summed up.
    My sense is that Leadsom is going to win. It is an opinion based on what I see and hear. The Little People are having a rebellion, and probably like the Peasants Revolt it will ultimately fail and they (we, I am one) will go back to beings serfs, as the political parties, the corporations, the media and the intelligentsia intend. But, by God, we tried.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A similar point was made on ‘The Daily Politics’ this morning re the two Tory contenders being viewed as ‘the wrong kind of feminists’ by the Corbynite left. Perhaps that would explain why both of our female PMs so far have been Tories and Labour has never come near a female leader. Its insistence on pigeonholing ‘identity’ based on gender or race or sexuality has ironically resulted in one white man after another in charge of its destiny.

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  3. Gildas” comment of “700,000 or “so right” on croc wearing middle class morons” is totally out of place. I am certainly not middle class, though metropolitan, and I abhor Crocs. If you wear them, you have no self-respect (as I told my sister when I saw her wearing them)…And “right on”… what does that even mean? The people have a certain set of egalitarian values in common rather than being a backward looking bunch of troglodytes who yearn for the days when the serfs knew their place?

    I joined the Labour party for £3 last year and did not put Jeremy as my first choice. I went for Realpolitik rather than idealism. Given another vote now, I would definitely vote Corbyn. The Parliamentary Labour Party have behaved appallingly and Corbyn was the only one to speak decently, honestly and authentically during the EU debate. My MP was one of those who jumped ship during the failed post EU coup and I told him I thought he was a little shit who wouldn’t get my vote if he stood for election for Labour next time – though admittedly I might have to hold my nose if that is the only way to get Jeremy elected.

    There IS a revolution going on by Gildas’ “Little People”, but why is it only acceptable if they revolt from the right?. We don’t need another hectoring Nany-knows-best in charge of us. Corbyn is growing into his role and is more amenable than either of the choices that a percentage of the 150,000 Conservative members will foist on us. General Election straight away, I think and then let all of us choose which one we want. I may well lose, but that is democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Post in haste – repent in leisure… what I’m trying to say is that Gildas, we little people from both left and right have more in common with each other than we do with those who aspire to lead us from either end of the spectrum.

      We should try to unite in common cause – because we have one – but we have different views on how to achieve it. Disparaging each other does not help and I am sorry I did so.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well said – although Left and Right are commonly considered to be at either end of a straight line, I’ve long believed that it’s more of a horse-shoe shape, where the ends are much closer together than many imagine, and certainly closer than the ‘leaders’ or the media would have us believe.
        Identifying what’s in common and making that happen would solve most of the important stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree Windsock. My point, I suppose, if I can draw one out of my post claret rant, is that there is a particular cadre of Metropolitan class warriors (labelled with deliberate provocation by Rod Liddle as “the Tossers”) who believe they have a Divine Right to rule: but they are wholly out of touch with what were Labour’s core vote. I am in quite a good position to know this, having come from a working class family in a Lancashire mill town. My family was Labour to its core. Not any more. And I can say that the same is true for the “working class” people I still know here. Labour is regarded as a threat, and hostile to their culture and history and sense of community.
    Living in Britain feels a lot like being inside a Hunger Games movie at the moment. The Capitol is not happy and District 9 is revolting. But what has so wonderfully and acerbically become known as “Generation Snowflake” has a weakness. For all its hate and viciousness and bile for anyone who might use the “no” word to it, it has no steel.

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