Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Is it cos I am a woman?

Do other Labour women bloggers think that Jacqui Smith is being unfairly picked out because of her sex? I mean, there are just as many male MPs who have taken advantage of the fees office. I'm not defending the current expenses system, mind you, I think MPs should be paid a proper wage, and forget the John Lewis list. The public think it's madness, and so do I.

But what I'm talking about is the way that Jacqui Smith has been singled out (and if you read the front page of the Independent, it's Hazel and Jacqui who are the culprits, not the the male Tory MPs who spent more than them). I wonder whether it's because lobby journos think that men are meant to be venal, but women, no - they are supposed to scrimp and save and let the men be the ones who do wrong thing. Why are women always the ones who are judged more?

4 comments:

  1. I think it's because deep in their hearts people and men in particular don't believe women should be involved in politics. Women are in the minority too so it shows more when they do get in the news for the wrong reasons. Of course they should be involved in politics and they should be paid a decent wage though I don't approve of the millions claimed in expenses nor the pay rise and claim for bigger pensions.

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  2. I have begun to suspect the same thing. The shower of denigration seems excessive, and unlike that given to other people.

    Of course it does not help that the expenses system was designed by and for men. Jacqui Smith would not have had a problem over which was her second home if she stayed in London drinking with friends on Thursday nights. Caroline Spelman could have paid a chauffeur without an eyebrow being raised, but not the nanny who had much more effect on her ability to work.

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  3. I don't think so in this case. JS is one of the most senior members of the government (3rd in the hierarchy?), and the most senior to have been caught doing questionable things with her allowances, twice. Hazel B is also a Cabinet Minister. That's a far bigger story than any pair of everyday MPs.

    The Indy has also recently given Hazel B a full page of +ve coverage in a profile.

    Tania, I don't see what "staying in London drinking with friends" has to do with it. Surely the relevant fact is that claiming almost the average national income for renting a spare room from a relative is outrageous in any terms when you have grace and favour homes at your disposal. I think she would have had exactly the same problem anyway.

    >Caroline Spelman could have paid a chauffeur without an eyebrow being raised, but not the nanny who had much more effect on her ability to work.

    Again, I think that is stretching it. Imho it's not the job, it's the money.

    >Of course it does not help that the expenses system was designed by and for men
    Could you explain what you mean?

    Tony McNulty has had a thorough kicking in the press - including the Indy, as did George Osborne and Mr Mandelson when they were in trouble.

    Just for the record, I don't see expenses manipulation as a purely party or sex related problem; in my view the most serious and cynical case is probably Mr and Mrs Winterton, and we need to get to a place the current secrecy and "claim what you can" culture is as obsolete as MPs for Old Sarum.

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  4. Matt, I tend to agree. These people are getting attention because they are in the cabinet. Backbench MPs are a lesser story. There have also been stories about Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper and Alastair Darling.

    The expenses stories are mostly based on basic fairness. If we -- the public - think something is unfair, even it is within the rules, then the rules need to be changed. Where the line is, I feel, around what a businessperson would be able to claim in the same circumstances. Yes, to rent of a flat or hotel room if you need to stay hundreds of miles from home, also food etc. No to videos, bathplugs and various other bits and pieces. If you need a place to stay while working away from home (constituency) then it should be reasonably near where you work (Westminster) and priced reasonably. And, no, you should not be able to sell it and keep the profit.

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