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Listen: Austin Mitchell’s curious theory about women in power

19 August 2014

11:25 AM

19 August 2014

11:25 AM

Where are the Labour sisterhood this morning?

Presumably they’re not listening to Woman’s Hour, where one of their Westminster colleagues blamed the ladies for Britain’s paralysis on the world stage. Outgoing Labour MP Austin Mitchell has—to say the least—a curious theory:

‘I think the problem is simply this, that parliament with more women is going to be more anxious to discuss issues relevant to the people, that is to say family issues, social issues. And less inclined to discuss big issues like should we invade Iraq.’

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This is clearly a pet peeve for Mr Mitchell, who recently claimed that Labour’s ‘process of feminisation’ is making it too ‘gentle’ to be in power. He pointed the finger of blame right at Ed Miliband’s office, which he claimed is full of ‘apparat-chicks’. It may be August, but just imagine for a second the reaction had Mitchell been a unreconstructed Tory shireman…

UPDATE: Labour has distanced itself from Mitchell’s remarks. One of the party’s apparat-chaps said:

‘Austin Mitchell’s views do not represent the Labour Party.

All women shortlists have ensured Labour is the party with the highest representation of women of the main parties in Parliament.

We are proud that in our target battleground seats for the general election just over half those candidates selected so far are women. In a week in which the Fawcett Society published figures showing how the government has let women down, with high unemployment, hundreds of thousands of women in low paid jobs and on zero hours contracts and many more women than men paid less than the minimum wage it is right that Labour stands to ensure women’s voices are heard in the national debate.

The suggestion that women in politics are less inclined to discuss big issues is ridiculous and wrong.’

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Show comments
  • Nicholas I

    Wow! Somebody opined that women seem to be different from men. Whatever next!?

  • John Smith

    This is the guy who said that the TDF was a bad thing for Yorkshire. He has been orf his head for sometime Typical Labour ..

  • Spectre

    Either women bring something distinctive to politics, or they don’t, in which case, their ‘underrepresentation’* wouldn’t matter. The Left can’t have it both ways. You can’t talk about how, deep-down, we’re all allegedly indistinguishable and then claim ‘superficial’ characteristics are somehow material to democracy.

    *’Underrepresented’: by what criterion? In terms of ‘as a proportion of the population’, certainly. But in terms of merit? Most certainly not. The Y chromosome exhibits more variation, meaning men are disproportionately represented at either end of the talent spectrum: most delinquents and cretins are male, as are most distinguished persons.

    What lefties dare not confront is that the absence of large numbers of women is primarily a consequence not of discrimination, but nature. Ethnicity may be another matter – a product of history and a lack of opportunity. But then, again, the crucial question is not whether BME are ‘underrepresented’ but whether they can be represented by someone from another ethnicity – which they obviosuly can be. Thus, they’re not disenfranchised or lacking in preresentaiton at all.

  • trace9

    He’s Never been more right – for a Lefty.. But totally correct he is! Women lack a punch & any country ‘ruled’ with them will lack one too.

    • chrisjones2

      All women shortlists are fair – after all Jack Dromey was chosen offf one

  • Richard J Francis

    Iceland was in deep deep deep fiscal do do’s a few years ago. However – a new government was pressed for after the 2008 global collapse and things were turned around. And it was a woman at the helm. In fact – if I recall – her predominantly left-wing coalition government poked Gordon Brown (quite arguably the worst PM in British history) in the eye by refusing to agree to his (& the Dutch governments) debt demands.
    I believe the issue isn’t about men vs women – the real issue is the utter lack of transparency concerning how fairly the UK government is treating it’s own indigenous population. Quite frankly Mr Mitchell – that’s of far greater concern to most people living and working in the UK than whether as a nation – we should attempt to flex our increasingly debt-soaked puny little
    postcolonial muscles on a world stage that increasing cares less and less what the UK wants or thinks..

  • Sean L

    What’s *curious*, mad really and contrary to everyone’s actual experience is the idea, which is now political orthodoxy, that for all purposes, appearances and biology notwithstanding, women are to be considered men. Not only that, it’s somehow *immoral* to consider them as women. But only for white men. Other racial types can no more be “sexist” than they can be “racist”. Paradoxically the only male type that such doctrines as feminism and anti-racism have penetrated at all are the selfsame white men. It’s pretty much an exclusively white phenomenon: they do it to themselves. Oblivious that they’re making themselves a laughing stock to everyone else who routinely refer to them as ” pervs” and “paedophiles”. And why shouldn’t they take them at their own estimation?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Except when women are considered “vulnerable” and “victims” in which case the rules change to accommodate them.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    I used to be in favour of women priests until I went to Church.

  • Slicer

    A feminised society will wither and die.

  • Mark McIntyre

    Feeling ‘demob’ happy ? – AVM !

  • madasafish

    Mitchell said ” And less inclined to discuss big issues like should we invade Iraq.’”

    What a load of ignorant rubbish.

    Correspondents Report – Sunday, 16 February , 2003 8:25

    Reporter: Matt Peacock

    HAMISH ROBERTSON: One person who’s totally convinced that Saddam Hussein is defying the United Nations, and who firmly supports a war, is a British Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament and a long-time champion of the Marsh Arabs in the the South of Iraq, Emma Nicholson.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/correspondents/s785367.htm

    Note the date -2003.

    Mitchell is showing the symptoms of stupidity or senility…

    • Colonel Mustard

      The clue is “long-time champion of the Marsh Arabs”. Political women must have a cause to pursue, often with emotional irrationality. Don’t confuse the specific causes with a generalisation.

  • anyfool

    The problem with women seems to be, that with the exception of Maggie is that the women who appear to speak for them are neither feminine or sensible, they are motivated by bile and spite and are the alter ego of the dull little Marxist men whom they follow with a shiny eyed fanaticism that borders on submission.
    The kitchen sink would be a promotion to high for the likes of Harperson and co.

    • Wessex Man

      oh dear.

  • Simon Jackson

    Imagine if he was a Tory – this would be leading the BBC news for weeks

    • Sapporo

      No, only if he was UKIP. The BBC have gone light on the Tories since they adopted the New Labour agenda. The MSM see UKIP as potentially a voice of the people and, therefore, the enemy.

      • MikeF

        I was just about to say the same thing so I will merely add that Mitchell is a bumptious nonentity though probably not as venemous as a lot of his ‘comrades’ – ‘old’ rather than ‘New’ Labour.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Hee hee. The reconstructed “Tories” are now calling for him to resign for his “incorrect thoughts”.

  • Smithersjones2013

    What is so curious about Mitchell’s comments? I know its forbidden to question the worth of women as they grasp and claw for privilege using every trick they can muster but seriously when are we going to address the issues that ‘feminine like’ uncertainty, indecisiveness and fear lead to?

    It surely can’t have passed the establishment class by that not only does the ‘Great Decline’ in this country coincide with our membership of the EU but with the rise and success of the feminist agenda.

    • Kitty MLB

      Oh I see dear man ‘irrelevance’ you used it above .Now I might be a little slow today but what has this to do with the
      “Establishment and the “EU”
      So women conditioned by the EU and the political class,
      and this is not just a progression through life.

      See what you have done.I am profoundly not a hairy feminist
      who belittles men, I find them adorable but rather not actually be one myself.

      • Wessex Man

        Never change darling Kitty, even when annoyed you are my kind of girl!

  • dmitri the impostor

    For who can deny but it is repugnant to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to lead and conduct such as do see? That the weak, the sick, and impotent persons shall nourish and keep the whole and strong? And finally, that the foolish, mad, and frenetic shall govern the discreet, and give counsel to such as be sober of mind? And such be all women, compared unto man in bearing of authority. For their sight in civil regiment is but blindness; their strength, weakness; their counsel, foolishness; and judgment, frenzy, if it be rightly considered.

    – John Knox

    • HookesLaw

      Knox is right – it is repugnant that ‘the foolish, mad, and frenetic shall govern the discreet’.
      You will not get me voting for UKIP.

      • Jacques Strap

        Stick to the green party then.

      • Wessex Man

        Hallelujah hallelujah, UKip is safe again!

  • https://belasariust.wordpress.com/ solly gratia

    Is it that they are women per se, or more liable to be liberal in their political sensitivities, and therefore more focused on victim campaigns etc, especially on the Left? Anyway, surely Mrs T is an obvious exception to the rule that shows it’s not a matter of being a woman or not, but what you do with it.

  • XH558

    For good or ill, we have largely been governed by mumsnet for some time now. Not so much “the hand that rocks the cradle” as the “finger that clicks on ‘send'”.

    • HookesLaw

      Hillarious rubbish. But then by what right should wimmin have the vote hey?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Yes, well, we know the Camerloons are keen on mumsnet and all that “something must be done” tripe.

    • Kitty MLB

      Excellent. If I may finish you quote by saying “rules the world”..says Angela Merkel gleefully.Yet she has a masculine subconscience.

  • Count Dooku

    He’s right though…

    • Kitty MLB

      If you don’t think me impertinent dear Count .You strike
      me as a traditional ,masculine type of chap.One that’ll stand
      upto the likes of Harriet &Yvette.
      But I am sure you approved of the strong, decisive, feminine
      and as some apparently said, alluring, Margaret Thatcher.
      She would have known how to deal with the issues we face
      today and yet remained a woman.
      A question, was there a spot of chemistry between Lady Thatcher and the charming Ronald Reagan..or was that just
      the usual media silliness.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Impertinent perhaps not but irrelevant definitely. Maggie, who was most certainly unique, god rest her soul is not here.

        • Kitty MLB

          Yes she was unique and those are normally the
          best. And as for you other remark, see below.

      • Count Dooku

        Maggie was asexual. A Titan among pygmies. I don’t think you can ascribe gender-specific traits to her. We won’t see her like soon.

        • Kitty MLB

          Quite right leadership should be about ability and not about gender.And that also applies to politicians in general.Including all other careers.

          In politics I shall blame that evil serpent Blair who decided politicians should be ‘in touch’ and
          feel everyones pain. Woman would prefer a few
          capable men then to patronized by having unsuitable women just because they’re women
          ie -Nicky Morgan replacing the exceptional and
          most dynamic education secretaries in decades
          the brilliant Michael Gove.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Asexual? What an extraordinary thing to say. Do you know any women?

          • Count Dooku

            Stop asking rhetorical questions!
            I mis-typed. What I mean is that I didn’t see her as being feminine or masculine.

            • Kitty MLB

              She was feminine, some men ( and fellow politicians ) said they noticed her fine legs but you only noticed her fine intellect
              and her policies. But I also didn’t know what you meant by Asexual.. I thought sexless which is an awful word.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Even odder. Maggie was always all woman as far as I could see. Still, it takes all sorts, dear Count.

              • Kitty MLB

                I assume the Count noticed as you obviously did, but maybe a
                stiff upper lip type of square jawed Conservatism.

        • foto2021

          Hardly ‘asexual’ given that she gave birth to two offspring.

      • Jen The Blue

        Count Dooku and Mitchell are right. Women TEND to be less interested in those issues. Obvioously this doesn’t apply to every woman – it didn’t apply to Margaret Thatcher, but it doesn’t have to to be correct.

      • Sit Bo Lei

        Remember she never had another woman in her cabinet.

        • Gwangi

          Oh yes she did. Leon Brittan and Keith Joseph were women.

    • Spectre

      Either women bring something distinctive to politics, or they don’t, in which case, their ‘underrepresentation’* wouldn’t matter. The Left can’t have it both ways. You can’t talk about how, deep-down, we’re all allegedly indistinguishable and then claim ‘superficial’ characteristics are somehow material to democracy.

      *’Underrepresented’: by what criterion? In terms of ‘as a proportion of the population’, certainly. But in terms of merit? Most certainly not. The Y chromosome exhibits more variation, meaning men are disproportionately represented at either end of the talent spectrum: most delinquents and cretins are male, as are most distinguished persons.

      What lefties dare not confront is that the absence of large numbers of women is primarily a consequence not of discrimination, but nature. Ethnicity may be another matter – a product of history and a lack of opportunity. But then, again, the crucial question is not whether BME are ‘underrepresented’ but whether they can be represented by someone from another ethnicity – which they obviosuly can be. Thus, they’re not disenfranchised or lacking in representaiton at all.

    • Gwangi

      Yes, he was, generally speaking; and moreover feminists are CONSTANTLY stating the same: women are better carers than men, women think more about health and family when voting, women are naturally non-violent (HA!) and don’t take large risks.
      So it seems WOMEN are allowed to make massive generalisations (like the one I heard this morning on a joint women’s/men’s hour saying that “women are better at swimming than men” because they have fat under the skin – well, round where I live a lot of women seem to have several stone of blubber under their skins, though I haven’t yet tried to harpoon them…)

  • Colonel Mustard

    Sounds like a good call. The creeping feminisation of Britain and the cake and eat it demands of feminists have much to answer for.

    I disagree that the proliferation of feminist agitators in Parliament makes it too gentle. The controlling nanny tendencies of those women (especially in the Labour party but not exclusively so) is well evidenced. The focus is more on domestic issues but is not “gentle” and is aided and abetted by wet, hand-wringing femi-men like Cameron. It is intrusive, hectoring, tending to draconian and controlling. Women in parliament seem to view the country as a primary school class over which they have jurisdiction rather than a responsibility to represent. And the other tendency which goes with that is for women MPs to see themselves as representing the feminist/female agenda rather than their constituents of both genders.

    The term “apparat-chicks” is both appropriate and amusing.

    • Kitty MLB

      Colonel, our prime minister is of the furrowed brow, furlock
      tugging variety.But I am sure we would’nt want him to be
      a neanderthal who thinks women should be tied in the cave
      either.Its a balancing act.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I’m afraid that I cannot accept your polarising stereotype of masculinity. The alternative to living in the successive new kitchens of Wooseville is not exclusively neanderthal, although that is no doubt how any rejection of the feminist agenda would probably be described.

        • Kitty MLB

          Oh sorry Colonel, just a spot of teasing.I know
          its not one or the other.Men should be masculine and decisive without being accused
          of dragging women off to caves or being belittled by men.And women can be warm, feminine, strong and decisive without chaps
          expecting her to be tied to the kitchen sink.
          Its about being your own gender and respecting
          the other.

          And by the way, being unconventional. I am not
          the new kitchen type, much rather the original
          kitchen in 200 year old cottage type of woman,
          but make an exception with the aga.

          • Wessex Man

            what’s wrong with dragging women off to your cave?

            • Kitty MLB

              They may not like it, over the shoulder and all
              that.I dare not ask, but would you like to do
              that?

              • Wessex Man

                Time and place Kitty?

        • Julieann Carter

          I agree with you, Colonel. Tragedy is, we’re stuck with it.

          • Kitty MLB

            Yes the Colonel makes a point. Politics has now
            become very personal, they must be “in touch”
            with the electorate. Its more of knowing the price
            of bread then discussions of Iraq.

            It is no longer about running the country but about who you’d like to have a drink in the pub with….utterly obsurd.

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