Emotional woman storms out in huff after man fails to find her irresistible

caroline_flint

I don’t know about you, but I found El Gordo’s government reshuffle somewhat underwhelming. It surely says something about the poverty of talent at the top of New Labour that he’s bringing into the cabinet fresh young faces like, well, Glenys Kinnock. Not to mention Peter Vain’s return to the Welsh Office, his little expenses difficulty by now forgiven and forgotten.

And the appointment of Alan Sugar as “enterprise czar”, which no doubt means next year’s Apprentice contestants will have to call him “your czarship”, looks to me like the act of a desperate man. The only wonder is that we didn’t see Joanna Lumley brought into the Ministry of Defence, or TV’s Gene Hunt to the Home Office.

As it is, what we’ve got at the Home Office is Postman Pat, in a transparently Machiavellian move. What Gordon knows is that no politician since Douglas Hurd, a generation ago, has emerged from the Home Office looking remotely good. It will surely be the death of Alan (TM) Johnson, unless he can assassinate Gordon in short order.

On the other hand, there was one element of the reshuffle that I thought El Gordo handled rather well, though such is the herd mentality of the press that this too has been spun as a sign of crisis. I am of course referring to the downfall of fruity Europe minister Caroline Flint, who, notwithstanding her feminist posturing, seems determined to act up to a 1950s stereotype and prove sexist men’s point about what happens when you put women in positions of power.

Time was when far too few women rose to positions of prominence in politics, even in the Labour Party, but those who did – think of Barbara Castle or Gwyneth Dunwoody – were figures of substance that you would fail to take seriously at your peril. And, although I’m very much in favour of having more women in politics, it’s noteworthy that many of the quota-driven Blair Babes (and remember that Cameron is trying something similar with Tory candidates’ lists) have been of almost comical ineptitude. Wacky Jacqui Smith, the worst Home Secretary in living memory, is a textbook case of someone wildly overpromoted for box-ticking purposes. Ms Flint has escaped the same sort of scrutiny, partly through the good luck of not being posted to the Home Office, but also by being serially overpraised by the media. Nor is it coincidental that much of this praise has come from male journalists more interested in Ms Flint’s sex appeal than her questionable political abilities. In fact she’s consciously played up to that so blatantly that I’m amazed she hasn’t yet done a Nuts shoot.

So, in the last week, we had Caroline’s bessie mates in the government, Jacqui and Hazel, not only resigning but doing so in the closing stages of an election campaign, in a way calculated to do maximum damage to the Labour Party. There was speculation that Caroline would resign in solidarity with her friends. But, at a time when even the boy Purnell was showing unexpected signs of possessing a backbone, she stayed put, being ostentatiously loyal to El Gordo.

And now, thanks to her remarkable petulant letter of resignation, we know why. She had been ostentatiously loyal in the hope that, with a reshuffle coming up and some prominent women departing, the boss would recognise her outstanding attributes and finally give her that cabinet position she’s been long angling for. No such luck, though. It turns out that macho man Gordon only has eyes for Ed Balls. So, having stabbed her sisters in the back to no avail, she’s not talking to that nasty man any more.

Thanks a bunch, Caroline. You’ve really made the case for the all-women shortlist right there. Not to mention confirming Gordon’s assessment of your abilities.

Rud eile: Nice to see the Mebyon Kernow comrades doing rather well in the locals.

17 Comments

  1. Brigada Flores Magon said,

    June 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    ‘Worst Home Secretary in living memory’…Maxwell Fyfe, anyone?

  2. charliemarks said,

    June 6, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Lord Sugar – no more “yes, Siralan” / “no, Siralan” from contestants on the Apprentice. And if he’s going to be so busy in govt, he won’t have time to do the TV show.

    Interestingly, his computer company recently got a massive govt contract… A coincidence, I’m sure.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    June 7, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Does he still make computers? I thought he had outsourced all that to China. Anyway, he’s in the entertainment business now.

  4. WorldbyStorm said,

    June 7, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Great stuff… they’re quite a bunch…

  5. Phil said,

    June 7, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Actually “Sir Alan” is exactly how you’d address an ennobled Sir Alan, not “Lord Sugar”. (And “Lord Alan” would imply he was the younger son of a peer, as in Lord Peter Wimsey.)

    Sorry, it was a phase I went through as a kid. I can also correct people on astrology, for very much the same reason.

  6. Doug said,

    June 7, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    MK comrades?! You’re not serious. Did you see their election video? Or rather a softer, gooier alternative opening for Doc Martin. As for their politics – no more national independence, just an assembly, with touchy feely green platitudes poured all over. Why didn’t they just show an ickle bunny wabbit with a rugby shirt on frolicking on a beach.

  7. splinteredsunrise said,

    June 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    It’s what frustrates me about the SNP and Plaid as well. They don’t stand for independence any more, but something called “Independence in Europe”. Which seems to me a contradiction in terms.

  8. anglonoel said,

    June 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Was I alone in thinking ‘Katy Perry’ when I saw the photo of Caroline Flint on the front of The Guardian on Saturday? ‘I Kissed A Girl (And Gordon Didn’t Like It)’.

  9. charliemarks said,

    June 8, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Doug – MK are trying to make the case for devolution, Plaid are trying to win lawmaking powers for the Welsh Assembly, and the SNP are focused on a referendum on independence. So, each party is at a different stage in trying to win national self-government.

  10. ejh said,

    June 8, 2009 at 7:21 am

    but also by being serially overpraised by the media

    As you know from other sources, my theme for the month is “Blairites have a lot of friends in the media and Brownites don’t”. My explanation for the present is “Brownites have some residual attachment to the labour movement and Blairites don’t”.

  11. Guano said,

    June 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    The other thing to remember is that Blears, Hoon and Purnell had some pretty dodgy expenses’ claims. They were likely to suffer in the reshuffle. A lot of the shrieking from their friends in the media is to distract attentioon away from this.

  12. ejh said,

    June 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Of course. But then again, who gets scrutinised to death and who gets the cursory headshake depends on how many mates they’ve got.

  13. Andy Newman said,

    June 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    blimey – i agree with ejh

    i had to happen one day

  14. splinteredsunrise said,

    June 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    As do I. My word.

  15. Guano said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I agree with him as well, as I often do, but I would like to explore the issue a little more. I think that Blears, Purnell, Hoon et al are quite pleased with themselves, despite the failure of their “coup”, because they might have been out on their ear like Ian Gibson if there hadn’t been all that shrieking from their friends in the media.

  16. ejh said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Well, either they’ll get what they want in the party or they’ll be off elsewhere after the election, with the excuse that it wasn’t their fault. (I don’t necessarily mean in a crossing-the-floor sense, though it wouldn’t amaze me – I mean off to business.)

  17. Guano said,

    June 9, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Indeed, a lot of the shrieking in the media is to create the impression that the implosion of New Labour has nothing to do with its chief architects!


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