I had just pointed out the cover of the latest issue of Private Eye to her. Here it is:
Is it funny?
If you think so, ask yourself: Would you feel the same if you were a victim of the (alleged) monsters who have inflicted themselves on unwilling victims and forced them to stay silent? That is what has happened in some of the cases on the Tory sex spreadsheet – and never forget that there may be other cases yet to come to light.
Come to that, how about asking whether any other victims of sexual attack – of any kind – thinks it’s funny?
So, did Ian Hislop (the Eye‘s editor) shoot himself in the foot with that cover? It’s a good question. Perhaps it would be a good idea to use that cover as a yardstick for prevailing attitudes. Does a significant proportion of the public feel outraged? Or are they laughing along?
Michael Gove is probably hoping they’re laughing, after his rape “joke” attracted a storm of criticism – and absolutely nothing by way of reprimand from his boss – last weekend.
Labour’s Dawn Butler has drawn attention to it in a letter to Theresa May that asks what the minority prime minister is doing about the scandal – especially as all the activities that have been identified were known to Mrs May, some of them for a considerable period of time, and she did nothing at all to stop them or bring the perpetrators to justice. Doesn’t this make her an accessory to every crime?
Is this the behaviour of anybody you would want to have as prime minister?
Ms Butler writes:
After your spokesperson expressed your “serious concern” at reports of sexual harassment in Westminster on Friday, it was disappointing to hear the comments of a member of your cabinet, Michael Gove, on Radio 4 the next day, which made light of sexual abuse and rape. Abuse is the never the woman’s fault, and insinuating that those who experience it and come forward have lost any of their “dignity” is inherently wrong and harmful. What action has been taken so that Mr Gove and others understand that “jokes” like his make it harder for those who experience harassment to feel like they will be taken seriously if they speak out?
It’s a good letter, calling for robust action to ensure that members of all political parties (not just the Tories) know exactly what to do if they are sexually harassed.
And it attacks the culture that allows these abuses and then makes jokes about it like the Private Eye cover above.
But it doesn’t go far enough. Perhaps Ms Butler is being diplomatic.
Personally, This Writer thinks it is time the police were dispatched to the Whips’ Office and to 10 Downing Street and searched both buildings for any and all evidence about MPs’ and ministers’ sex crimes.
I do not believe Theresa May will tell the truth about her involvement in these activities. I do believe she and her cronies will try to hide – or destroy – any evidence before the authorities have a chance to find them.
Look at what she has done since this scandal broke: Nothing. She has passed the buck to the Speaker’s office. She has asked for an investigation into whether a minister broke the ministerial code (which doesn’t appear to cover such matters) at a time when he wasn’t a minister. She has not suspended the whip from any of the politicians who have been named.
The problem of abuse and harassment of women isn’t restricted to those who make unwanted advances on women; it extends to a culture that has tolerated or made light of abuse for far too long. All political parties have a responsibility to act thoroughly and properly where instances of unacceptable behaviour come to light, and to take appropriate action.
Therefore, I was extremely concerned by reports in Sunday newspapers that your chief of staff and chief whip made you aware of allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Ministers and Conservative MPs. Can you confirm if you were made aware of allegations about members of your party or Government, and what action you took, if any?
Can you explain why the investigation into Mark Garnier appears to be confined to whether he broke the Ministerial Code at a time when he wasn’t a Minister? Further, can you confirm that both he, and Stephen Crabb, will be investigated by the Conservative Party and have the whip suspended while investigations into their conduct take place?
Sunday newspaper reports claim that you are concerned that taking action against ministers could risk the Government collapsing. All party political considerations should be put to one side to ensure we take serious action. I am hopeful that if we do, this could prove to be a turning point that sees us make progress in tackling the sexism and misogyny that pervades our society.
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