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".
Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
The new people’s republic of east Ukraine
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Kingdom Tower: Construction of 1km high new world’s tallest building to begin next week in Saudi Arabia
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...