Leading Article: Male Crusties' Club

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IT MIGHT call itself after Mary the Good, but no Marys, or Ursulas, Sheilas or Joans are to be made welcome in the St John's Wood home of the MCC. It's tempting, in response to that vote, to invoke Groucho Marx's principle - what good woman (or self-respecting man for that matter) would want to be a member of such a club? A substantial minority is evidently made up of crusties whose misogyny and fear of change outstrips their sense of public responsibility.

And isn't that the real point here? The issue has nothing to do with gender on the pitch: it is about a social club with a public and to some extent a political identity. The MCC is one of those peculiar British institutions which, ostensibly private, has acquired official responsibilites. It regulates the laws of the game of cricket. As such it cannot just stand aside from history or that (slow) process by which our society recognises the existence of women in its public space and, gradually and grudgingly, its male power-holders make way for them to share it. The members of the MCC may not like it but they symbolise the width of institutional exclusion. Their vote sends a signal, both at home and overseas. It is affected, anachronistic and wrong.

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