Leading article: Reformed clubs

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The Independent Culture
EVERY NOW and then, this supposedly radical Government seems scared by its own ideas. It comes up with a bold idea one day, and drops it the next, when it realises that someone, somewhere is offended. The idea of misogynist gentlemen's clubs, such as the Garrick, which bar women members is ludicrous and outdated. So why are they not being forced to end their discrimination?

It can be argued that the Groucho Marx principle kicks in: who would want to be a member of such a club anyway? But that is too comfortable. We take it for granted that clubs banning black people or Jews are prohibited by law. There is no reason why "gentlemen's clubs" (strange phrase, strange people) should be treated differently.

This newspaper hesitates before ever seeking government intervention, but this is not just a matter of personal choice. These clubs represent the heart of an establishment. They are used to network, and for them to exclude women is as daft and offensive as to exclude people whose skin does not fit the colour chart.

It is regrettable that New Labour, having floated the idea, opted not to take on these institutions. Since such clubs refuse to lift the ban on women themselves, the law must serve as an enforcer.

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