Maria Miller’s shot at sexist clubs such as Muirfield lands David Cameron in the rough
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 18 July 2013
Maria Miller’s attempt to boost the Conservatives’ standing amongst women backfired as she put the spotlight on David Cameron’s privileged background.
The Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, who is also the Equalities Minister, is boycotting the Open golf championship at Muirfield in Scotland because the club refuses to admit women members. Downing Street backed her stance, saying Mr Cameron believed that all-male clubs “look much more to the past than the future.”
But to the irritation of Cameron aides, that provoked a flurry of questions about his membership of the hell-raising Bullingdon Club while he was at Oxford University, and his decision to join the exclusive all-male White’s club, where his late father was once chairman. His official spokesman said the Prime Minister Prime Minister resigned from White’s in 2008, two and half years after becoming Tory leader.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, described Muirfield’s policy as “old fashioned” and “anachronistic.” Andrew Lansley, the Tory Leader of the Commons, called it “entirely reprehensible.”
But Mrs Miller’s intervention led to Labour calls for a ban on all-male sports clubs. Harriet Harman, the shadow Culture Secretary, said she should match her words with action and offered Opposition support to speed a law through Parliament. “A boycott is a kind of symbolic, angry gesture. I think if you’re Secretary of State sitting around the Cabinet table, you can do more than that. You can actually take the action,” she said. But Number 10 ruled out a ban, saying there were no plans for legislation.
Mrs Miller also joined the two-week-old controversy over the sexist remarks by BBC sports presenter John Inverdale, who described the Wimbledon singles champion Marion Bartoli as not “a looker”. Although he and the BBC had already apologised, the Culture Secretary wrote to the Corporation asking for “an update on any further action.”
Lord (Tony) Hall, the BBC director-general, told her yesterday that Inverdale’s remarks “were totally unacceptable and fell well beneath the standards we expect of our presenters.” He added: “John sincerely regrets that he made such an inappropriate statement and for the offence caused. As he said on-air the following day, he has written to Marion Bartoli to apologise and the BBC has also apologised for John's remarks. In addition, the director of sport and the controller of 5 live have both spoken to John to make it clear that his comments were unacceptable and that an incident of this nature must never happen again."
The BBC director-general said the corporation had a proud record of supporting women’s sport, and is looking at its equality and diversity policies, with staff being given a clearer idea of what is "inappropriate behaviour or language".
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
Mohammed Emwazi: Nine things we know about Isis militant 'Jihadi John'
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
'Jihadi John': Mohammed Emwazi – from British computer programmer to Isis executioner
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
£21000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software development compa...
£65,000 - £75,000: Neil Pavier: Have you every dreamt of working for a global ...
£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...
£55,000 - £65,000: Neil Pavier: Do you want to work for an impressive digital ...