Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Sexist Tories

However much David Cameron's Tories try to pretend that they've dragged themselves out of the Dark Ages and are now nice, fluffy, liberal minded tolerant folk, every so often the proof comes that they are still the same old nasty, judgemental neanderthals that they always have been.

First we had the chair of Gosport Conservatives saying that he'd be fine with a woman candidate as long as she was pretty.

Now we have the SW Norfolk Conservative Association in high dudgeon because their new female candidate, Elizabeth Truss, didn't tell them that she'd had sex with someone who wasn't her husband a few years ago. So pissed off are they that they want to deselect her - even though they only selected her at the weekend. It's not exactly a secret, either. I typed her name into Google and I didn't have to look very far down the page to find the Daily Fail article about the matter from three years ago.

Words fail me. I am certain that if she had been a man, there's no way they would be taking such action. They certainly don't seem to have expressed any concern that the man she had the affair with is in fact a Tory MP and has had no repercussions on his career. I don't remember anyone calling for Boris Johnson to be deselected even though he also had a highly publicised extra marital affair. Nor can I imagine that anyone would have expected that he should have made a point of telling London Conservatives about it when he was selected as the Mayoral candidate.

To be clear, I don't think that people's personal lives are remotely relevant to their suitability to public office. This shouldn't be an issue for Elizabeth Truss or Mark Field or Boris Johnson. The problem I have with the Tories is their disproportionate and utterly sexist treatment of a female candidate.

I can think of a gazillion reasons why the people of South West Norfolk might not want to vote for Elizabeth Truss, the Conservative logo next to her name on the ballot paper being the most obvious. Daddy Alex has a few more from his knowledge of her.

There doesn't seem to be any sign of Tory Central Office intervening so we must assume that they think the conduct of their local branch is acceptable.

It's clear to me that the Tories can't be trusted to understand what equality means, in practice and that's as good a reason as any to give them a very wide berth. They might talk the talk, but their deeds don't pass muster. They say they don't believe in discrimination against women but then allow their apparatchiks to do exactly that. They say they believe in gay rights and then they shack up with a nasty bunch of homophobes in Europe. In the not so distant past, Tory MPs have voted against extensions of maternity leave, against civil partnerships, and against the equalisation of the age of consent to name but a few crucial issues.

Update: House of Twits has published this post with a fantastically appropriate photograph:-)


John said...

"To be clear, I don't think that people's personal lives are remotely relevant to their suitability to public office."

Really? So, if I murder someone, as long as I do it outside working hours, that's fine?

Do you really think people can have "Chinese walls" in their mind? If your personality is such that you're eg sleazy, or think it OK to fiddle expenses, or think racist or homophobic thoughts, you don't think that's also going to influence how you carry out your job?

Even if you think you can have completely split personalities, consider it this way. If you can lie to the one person you're supposed to love the most, who you've made a commitment to in public which is deemed to bind you together (and there is still some shame attached to breaking the promsie), how much easier is it to tell lies to an amorphous group of constituents?

Caron said...

Murdering someone is a criminal offence, not a matter of a private relationship.

Not everyone who has an affair is sleazy as you suggest. Life is complex and we shouldn't be sitting in judgment on others for things like this. I really don't care about who my MP sleeps with as long as their heart and soul is in the right place when it comes to representing their constituents and they share my values of liberty, fairness and tolerance.

Jennie said...

I had sex with someone who isn't my husband only this morning; OK, that's because we're not married, so that's a bit disingenuous.

But we ARE in a long-standing and very happy open relationship, and I have had sex with three other people of varying genders in recent months, none of which were one night stands and all of which would doubtless count as "sleazy affairs" in the minds of many.

Does this disqualify me from being a Tory Candidate, then? Because there's no lying to anyone involved, just lots of nice shagging.

John said...

Caron - interesting how you read into my post that where I mentioned 'sleazy' I was referring to Liz. I wasn't. People can be sleazy in plenty of ways. I notice you also ignored the point in my final paragraph.

Do you think it's important that your MP is trustworthy?

More generally, I'm interested to know what you think you can judge people for? And do you accept that other people might have different lists to you?

(Incidentally, for full disclosure, I should say: a) I know Liz; b) I think it is perfectly reasonable not to vote for someone on the grounds that they have had an affair; c) the constituency association are idiots. As you noted, the info was freely available.

Caron said...

Jennie, I doubt you'd have much chance of being selected as a Tory candidate on the grounds that you aren't a Tory, for a start:-)

John, re your final point, I am not going to sit in judgement over anyone's private life. We never know all the circumstances and there's not one single person on earth who has always behaved without fault to the people closest to us.

I would not extrapolate that because someone once had an extra-martial affair, I could not trust them.

John said...

Interesting last sentence. Even if it was your own spouse?

Caron said...

Actually, John, yes - depends on the circumstances and all sorts. Marriages survive these things and every single person who's married breaks at least one of their marriage vows at some point or other. I'm not saying it's desirable, but we are all human, after all. We make mistakes, we do stupid things and we hopefully learn from our experiences.

John said...

But I really don't think you can say you would trust them _as much_ afterwards? (or rather, maybe you could, but I think you'd be the one in a million).


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