Blogbites #2: Shallow Cabinet
So the women in the Cabinet are only ‘window dressing‘, according to Caroline Flint. They are there to make Labour look like it is interested in equal opportunities for women, rather than the Party actually being inclusive. In actual fact, the women aren’t listened to. Thank fuck for that, since I’ve always worried that some of the women of the cabinet would be listened to. The high profile women of the Cabinet – of whom I have met several – have always struck me as irritating, shallow and either very disingenuous or plainly stupid. By which I mean Smith, Blears, Kelly and Flint herself.
It would be unfair and sexist not to point out that these four count for less than half the female contingent of the Cabinet – Harman, Cooper, Beckett, Angela Smith and several more from the House of Lords. I exempt Harman completely from criticism of being irritating – whatever her policies, the few times I have been at the same events or had a quiet word, she’s always come across as quite genuine. Whether as a result of policy she’s a ‘quite genuine’ scumbag is another matter entirely. But what about the famous four?
On Jacqui Smith, not much needs to be said. At an OULC meeting, she dared to launch several attacks on MPs for having the guts to vote their consciences or choose to represent their constituents over the Iraq War, privatisation, Academies and so on. She was subsequently booed off the stage by me, which was amusing since I was in a room full of careerist hacks. That was before she became Home Secretary and became an ardent advocate of every illiberal measure this government has demanded from Parliament.
Kelly is a nutcase, plain and simple. She should never have been allowed into the Labour Party, never mind into Parliament. Again, it would be unfair and sexist not to point out that there were contemporaneous others in the Cabinet who share her ridiculous, reactionary religious convictions – Des Browne and Paul Murphy, for example. And not a few outside of the cabinet, many of whom were men and many of whom mouthed off against the embryology and fertility bill. None to quite the same effect as Ruth Kelly, however, who was Minister for Equality at one point.
As for Hazel Blears, where does one begin? Self-serving, stupid, prolier-than-thou (which, from a Cabinet minister, is a neat trick) and with a tyrannical streak that runs to attacking the character of pretty much anyone who disagrees with her, simply because they disagree with her – as she did with journalist George Monbiot. Hazel Blears is a reviled character – a pit bull who frequently appears on Comment is Free and blows hard on her horn because she has little of intelligence to say. In all of this, of course, it’s important to balance agency with the structural location of these individuals, men or women.
Caroline Flint has been given the soubriquet “Bloody Poor People” by this blog in the past, as a result of her idea that the government should deny people housing unless they sought work as part of their tenancy agreement, returning the country to the Victorian Age in one fell swoop. I can’t really say much more than that. If the ideas of these people aren’t listened to, well I’m not complaining; Brown and his coterie don’t need additional help fucking up the country, they’re doing fine on their own.
I sincerely doubt that these people weren’t being listened to by virtue of being women, so I don’t really see much to get excited about. The nature of democracy within the Labour Party self-selects for gormless morons, judging by the overwhelmingly male contingent we’ve sent to Parliament this time around. From Dracula Mandelson himself to James Purnell, once referred to by observers of his welfare reform package as “the unspeakable in pursuit of the unemployable,” (H/t) the Blairites in the Cabinet are complete tossers.
A few less being listened to, of any gender, is unquestionably a good thing. What isn’t a good thing is the number of sexist blogposts being made as a result of Flint crying “Wolf”, not to mention the shamelessly sexist tone of the media (h/t). That will not help the socialist cause of gender equality.