Tuesday 5 January 2016

Jeremy Corbyn is Not a Misogynist

Like a lot of members from all wings of the movement, I'm getting fed up of the bullshit swilling about our party. Unfortunately, the latest to stir the stinking, steaming pot is Jess Phillips, the new go-to woman for "plain speaking". Last night on Newsnight, she had this to say:
"What is worrying about the culture of the Labour Party is very left-wing feminists are putting up with a lot more than they would of than any other man because Jeremy Corbyn's saying it. Had Tony Blair not given any of the top jobs to a woman, had that same make-up of his team existed, people would rightly have been up in arms, but it's a bit like some people in the Labour Party are accepting low-level, non-violent misogyny because it's Jeremy doing it."
In the spirit of plain speaking, Jess is talking out of her arse.

Firstly, what exactly is Jeremy Corbyn saying? Has he declared a penchant for young women, as someone else has these past few days? Has he been victim blaming women for the wrongdoing of a man? No, in fact Jeremy has said nothing at all. No sexist remark has crossed his lips since the beginning of the Labour leadership campaign as far as I can tell, and in fact the only comment that could be so construed dates from 1989. If Jezza is coming over all wideboy and having sexist bantz with the boys, let's hear about it.

As for Tony Blair, shall we have a look at his first shadow cabinet? My, what do we find? Leader's a man. Shadow chancellor's a bloke. Home office has a chap. And the Foreign office another fella. Yes, His Blairness, Gordon Brown, Jack Straw, and Robin Cook, all holding the "great offices of state", or at least their shadow. Five out of 24 in the first and five out of 26 in his second shadcabs were women. It wasn't until 2006 when Blair appointed Margaret Beckett as foreign secretary - the first time a woman occupied a "great office" on his watch. I've been Googling away, but I cannot find any pieces by Jess Phillips being "up in arms" about Tony Blair's failure to appoint women until his final year as PM. Or, for that matter, much of a fuss being made by anyone - especially those now claiming Jeremy is a latter day Sid James or something*.

And last of all, while it is true that most of Jeremy's appointees behind the scenes are men, to claim he is guilty of "low-level, non-violent misogyny" is as ludicrous as it is contemptible. Basically, Jess is saying that Jeremy hates women. Everyone knows that is not the case, including Jess herself, and refusing to discuss her criticisms honestly makes her look like one of Prescott's 'bitterites' with absolutely nothing positive to say.

The thing is, I quite like Jess Phillips. Politics needs more women who are prepared to speak up and speak out about the matters they care about, but that doesn't mean she or anyone gets a free pass when they make stuff up about the leader. Like Jess, I remain a Jeremy sceptic. Yet, in case anyone needs reminding, Jeremy won and his position is unassailable. That leaves two options available to his opponents. They can continue to shout their mouths off, risking their own hides when the reselection comes and adding fuel to the stab-in-the-back narrative already getting traction among members. Or one can constructively debate and critique while competing to be the party's best builders. The latter is the only way the centre and the right can come back because once Jeremy's gone, most of the members he brought with him are sure to stick around - and they will remember.

Come on, let's have some honest argument.

* For completion's sake, Gordon Brown appointed Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary from 2007 until 2009, when the "top four" were all taken by men again, and under Ed Miliband Yvette Cooper served as shadow home then shadow foreign throughout.


David Timoney said...

Philips' "plain-speaking" is a substitute for politics, so I think you're crying for the moon there. She's already been lined up as the successor to Danczuk by the media, which is gender progress of a sort, I suppose.

Phil said...

I went to a branch meeting last night. The current membership of our branch stands at rather more than 5% of the ward electorate; we were discussing financing the next council election campaign, and somebody said that if every party member persuaded one other person to vote we wouldn't even need a campaign.

How many of those members were party members two years ago, or even one year ago? How many of them (us) will stay members if Corbyn gets the Ides of March treatment? You're far too charitable to Jess Phillips when you say that what she's doing is futile. It's worse than that - it's actively destructive.

redpesto said...

Phillips' comments are just another variation of the hostility to Corbyn from those inside and outside the Labour party, including pretty much the entire pundit class. Rather than attack the membership directly for electing three men to Leader, Deputy Leader and London mayoral candidate - and ignoring completely the ethnicity/religion of the latter - it was 'easier' to start throwing around accusations of misogyny.

Ditto when Corbyn appointed a majority-female Shadow Cabinet (despite Cooper, Reeves and Kendall all refusing to serve in it), only for him to be accused of misogyny for not appointing women to the 'top' jobs - based on criteria that historically were defined by men (hence perhaps this diagram that rates the MoD higher than Education).

Phillips clearly thinks she has some unstoppable ninja move of an argument by accusing Corbyn of misogyny, but it's the same problem as all the other 'Anyone But Corbyn' crowd: they don't as yet have an explanation of why 'their' candidate (e.g. Cooper) lost, let alone the beginnings of a strategy or philosophy that might rebuild Labour and enable it to win in 2020. It's about as feminist an argument as campaigning for a female Prime Minster - and then having to explain why Margaret Thatcher doesn't count.

BCFG said...

Another decent plays the feminism card and undermines feminism.

Clive Staples Lewis said...

Er, isn't it one of the rules of "intersectionality" that people can only have valid opinions if they have lived experience of something, so men don't get to have an opinion on feminism, therefore you're not qualified to say whether he's a misogynist or not?

Redpesto said...

@clive staples Lewis - no, it's not, besides which Phillips' much noted slagging off of Dianne Abbott was an example of how she didn't 'get' intersectionality.

BCFG said...

"Er, isn't it one of the rules of "intersectionality" that people can only have valid opinions if they have lived experience of something"

That would cut down significantly, possibly by over 99%, the amount of opinion that exists...Yes, sounds like a good idea. It is amazing what sort of ideas Corbyn has inspired!

I will agree if everyone else does!

Kraps said...

she is a populist. not a good politician. desperarely hugging the limelight with arrogant attitude. loving herself a bit too much and unfortunately not the brightest of crayons.. I am a woman and I am pissed off that these are the women politicians shoved at us. I know there are better people out there, but they seemed to be shadowed by gobby, arrogant, loud and aggressive women who have very little to say because they are only interested in themselves and "playing the game". These women don't represent me, they make me furious because they tell me to vote for them because they are a woman.If anyone is a mysoginist, it is her for screwing it up for women who don't want to get ahead at all costs, even if it means sacrificing your principles. Thanks Jess Phillips for betraying other women, just concentrating on numero uno - herself.

Chris said...

Frankly, all accusations of "misogyny" are lies. What the motivation is, we can only guess at, but it does seem to be used 99% of the time to harm the left...