"Tony Blair never had a "women" problem. They liked him. From Tessa Jowell, who famously said that she would throw herself under a bus for him, to Ruth Kelly, Hazel Blears and Bev Hughes, the women were loyal to Blair."
And Blair was a smooth, lying snake-oil salesman, personally attractive and charismatic, brilliantly competent at talking the talk of politics and disastrously incompetent at walking the walk of effective policy. Hmm. This is an argument for more women in the Cabinet ? Strange, how potent cheap rhetoric can be. I remember Clinton's last Labour Party conference appearance - not a dry seat in the house and you could have bottled the oestrogen in the air. The Labouristas loved him - a guy whose most lasting legacy will be a hefty cut in US welfare rolls.
Mussolini didn't have a woman problem either - he used to pleasure women journalists who'd come for an interview without even taking his boots off. Maybe Ms Ashley should head for Rome to do a piece on Berlusconi ?
I digress. The comments struck me :
if we take a look at the present and recent cabinet:
David Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford.
Jacqui Smith - Hertford College, Oxford.
Peter Mandelson - St Catherine's College, Oxford.
John Hutton - Magdalen College, Oxford.
Geoff Hoon - Jesus College, Cambridge.
Ed Balls - Keble College, Oxford.
Ed Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford.
James Purnell - Balliol College, Oxford.
Shaun Woodward - Jesus College, Cambridge.
Andrew Burnham - Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.
Yvette Cooper - Balliol College, Oxford.
Paul Murphy - Oriel College, Oxford.
You'd think that such a high proportion of top positions being filled by alumni from just two universities might not have escaped the eagle-eyed attentions of the gender-balance-noting Jackie Ashley (St Anne's College, Oxford), or her colleagues Polly Toynbee (St Anne's College, Oxford) and Madeleine Bunting (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge).
Singly perhaps it doesnt matter what their backgrounds are but put together the lack of world experience is frightening. I am sure that if I carried on adding names then the experience profile would not widen significantly. It would merely add ex public sector employees and lawyers.
I am sure that the lack of knowledge of the real world is a major factor in why the Labour Part is so out of touch and why the government is in the mess it is in. It is no wonder that Labour campaign on peripherial issues of gay rights and foxhunting and have lost the working class they claim to represent.
David Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford. No profession outside politics.
Jacqui Smith - Hertford College, Oxford. Short time as a teacher
Peter Mandelson - St Catherine's College, Oxford. Short time in tv being groomed by the BBC for politics.
John Hutton - Magdalen College, Oxford. Lecturer (Law)
Geoff Hoon - Jesus College, Cambridge. Lecturer (Law)
Ed Balls - Keble College, Oxford. Writer/Journo
Ed Miliband - Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Short time in tv as journo
James Purnell - Balliol College, Oxford. No profession outside politics
Shaun Woodward - Jesus College, Cambridge. Short time in tv as journo
Andrew Burnham - Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Trade Union
Yvette Cooper - Balliol College, Oxford. No profession outside politics
Paul Murphy - Oriel College, Oxford. No profession outside politics
Haven't exactly been sticking up for the Graun of late, so feel obliged to point out Kettle, White, Monbiot, Freedman, Younge for starters.
Ally, I stand corrected.
I was of course forgetting Martin Kettle (Balliol College, Oxford), George Monbiot (Brasenose College, Oxford), Jonathan Freedland (Wadham College, Oxford) and Michael White (University College London. Oh, the shame). Younge? Who he?
But are these brave chaps just token sausage-swingers amongst Catherine Bennett (Hertford College, Oxford), Allegra Stratton (Emmanuel College, Cambridge), Zoe Williams (Lincoln College, Oxford), Tanya Gold (Merton College, Oxford), Marina Hyde (Christ Church, Oxford), Bidisha Bandyopadhyay (St Edmund Hall, Oxford) and Melanie Phillips (St Anne's College, Oxford)?
"Ah!" but I hear you cry. "What about Sam Leith (Magdalen College, Oxford), Peter Preston (St John's College, Oxford), Andrew Rawnsley (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge), Simon Jenkins (St John's College, Oxford), Alexander Chancellor (Trinity Hall, Cambridge) and not forgetting the leader of the pack, Alan Rusbridger (Magdalene College, Cambridge)?"
In the light of such overwhelming evidence, I should have to concede that The Guardian is in fact gender neutral and representative of the widest possible cross-section of British society.