The ministers covering women and equalities do have a view on the disappearance of topless Page 3 models, but the Prime Minister apparently doesn’t.
Today Nicky Morgan called the decision of The Sun to put something over at least a portion of the breasts of the women in its paper ‘a long overdue decision and marks a small but significant step towards improving media portrayal of women and girls. I very much hope it remains permanent’. Her Lib Dem colleague Jo Swinson said she was delighted that the old fashioned sexism of Page 3 could soon be a thing of the past’ and called on the newspaper’s editors ‘to consider whether parading women in bikinis is really a modern reflection of the contribution women make to society’.
But at this morning’s lobby briefing, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman declined to comment either way, simply preferring to say that ‘the Prime Minister always thinks that what newspapers publish is a matter for newspapers’. He was then asked if he had wider concerns about the objectification of women in society and the media. The spokesman replied:
‘Well, he’s answered on this in the past, I think, and he has spoken in terms of… I think that he gave the example there in terms of his own children and, you know, doing as much as he can in their upbringing to understand that what counts of course are people’s values and people’s actions.’
Then he reiterated the position ‘that he has long held’ about what newspapers publish being a matter for newspapers.
For what it’s worth, the Prime Minister often has too many views on too many things, intervening in all sorts of debates and running stories that have nothing to do with politics at all. He has been tempted to become a commentator on this matter many times before, not least by Caroline Lucas at Prime Minister’s Questions, but also by some of his own Tory MPs who were disgusted that other MPs (including but not limited to Conservatives) used to enjoy reading the Sun together in the team room and loudly mimicking the ‘news in briefs’ comments where Amy from Stockport spoke at length about the wisdom of Camus. But his own ministers have decided to take a considerably stronger line on what newspapers are printing, rather than saying it’s nothing to do with them