Caroline Flint (pictured right) has quit the cabinet in high dudgeon. She claims she was used as "window dressing". I thought I'd discuss the way women are treated in politics, but before we do, I thought I'd tell a little anecdote, bear with me, it is relevant.
In 1979, when I was 17, our band did a gig at the Harwood Hall on Mill Hill Broadway. It was a fundraiser for CND. A couple of local National Front supporting skinheads turned up, purely to cause trouble. As my band, the False Dots performed our set, one of these herberts jumped up and spat in my face. I responded by hitting him around the head with my guitar. I then carried on playing. As his friends carted him off, I announced that if anyone else wanted to have a go, they were more than welcome. At the end of the gig, we took all of the gear out on to the street, awaiting my Dad who was going to cart it home in his car. All of a sudden a gang of 7 skinheads seeking revenge appeared. The rest of the band legged it. I was left with all of the gear, on my own. My Dad had always taught me that the first rule of self preservation was to acquire a weapon. I grabbed a couple of beer bottles and smashed them. I shouted at the revenge posse "Come on, lets have some fun". Luckily for me, I'm not a small guy. They stopped. Suddenly they realised that there may be a cost to pay in executing their plan. As they were summing up the odds, my Dad appeared with a huge Iron bar. Although he was 60 at the time, he was a big scary looking bloke. A stream of invective bellowed forth, in his broad Aussie accent. The revenge Posse lost it's nerve and legged it. My Dad shouted "Don't forget to wash your pants out when you get home". The band reappeared and the gear was safely loaded. As we drove home, my Dad told me that this was the first time in my life he'd felt proud of me. When we got home, my Dad excitedly conveyed the story to my Mum. She was livid. "Why didn't you just get him out of there. We could have easily replaced the gear. He could have been killed, what if they'd had knives". My Dad replied that he'd have run them over. My mum called him an idiot and went to bed. My Dad replied "Women!" I sat up drinking whisky with the old man reliving past scraps.
I tell this story as it exemplifies the difference between men and women. In 1919 Europe was full of widows. Millions had died as a result of "The Great Game". Politics has traditionally been a male dominated profession and those few women who get to the top really are tough cookies. Often the most gifted, talented and hard working women are not people who seek the limelight or push themselves to the front. They are happy to do the work and are embarrassed when they get the accolades. From the anecdote above, you might conclude that my mother was cowardly. You would be wrong, she just didn't see the point of the risks & dangers of the altercation. She looked at the whole picture. She formed a different conclusion and a different course of action. She did not understand the male perspective and was sickened by my father and I revelling in it. She saw the flip side, the trip to the hospital, the senseless damage. She'd have preferred to buy some new equipment than run the risk of physical injury.
I have long been of the opinion that the lack of women in senior government positions is a major weakness. I mentioned this yesterday and someone said "Well look what a disaster Jacqui Smith has been". If I'd made the opposite point, would anyone have listed the countless useless male home secretaries we've had. When I was growing up, I attended two secondary schools. Finchley Catholic was an all boys school. Orange Hill was mixed. When I was at Finchley I underachieved. I mixed with a group of friends who were driven by a sense of reckless bravado. When I moved to Orange Hill, I was instantly struck by the calm atmosphere and the lack of aggression (I must say that I think Finchley is now a far better school, from what friends tell me). It seemed to me that the female presence had a major calming influence on boys. It was far more healthy. When Parliament was first broadcast on the radio, it reminded me of class 2B at Finchley at our very worst.
I have a radical idea for reform of Parliament. I think that the number of constituencies should be halved. I think that they should be twice as big, but have 2 MP's. One should be male and one female. I think that in the selection process, only those of the same gender should be able to vote. That way, 50% of parliament would represent the respective genders and be chosen on their merits. I suspect that if the male perspective was taken out of the selection of female candidates, we'd get far better female candidates. I don't think that the existing method gives the better female candidates a chance. The women that get through selection panels are the ones who have figured out how to get through male selection panels.
I'd also cut the number of councillors per ward in Barnet to 2 and have the same selection criteria. That way we'd avoid the existing 60/40 gender split. It would give far better representation. I don't buy into this "the best person will win" nonsense. I just think that men are generally less risk averse than women. For selection committee's this comes across as dynamism. Often this hides a reckless nature, which is what has caused many of the problems within the Council.
My family have always run businesses. My parents did and I do. We've all been highly successful. I ascribe the success of my parents property and car business and the success of my music business to the fact that the calm rational approach of our partners calmed and moderated the mercurial, reckless approach to life which both my Father and I have. I suspect that all of the best decisions that my parents took with the business were made through their combined knowledge. This is certainly true for my business. I am sure that if women had an equal shout in politics, society would be fairer, more civil and more honest.
Sure, there are women such as Lynn Hillan at Barnet who I don't agree with at all. Why shouldn't there be? If there was a 50/50 split I'm sure that the Tories would find just as many women as men who I'd disagree with. I do however think that the 50% of the population which is female would then achieve proper representation. That can only be fair and just, therefore has to be something I support.
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We the Undersigned, are totally opposed to the closure, sell off or downgrading of the Library service in the London Borough of Barnet.
We believe that Libraries are a vital part of the Borough and recognise the importance of having trained Libraries run by trained librarians. We believe that it is vital to have "quiet space" for students to study.
We believe that closure of the service would cause untold damage to the citizens of Barnet and is totally opposed by the vast majority of the population.
I got into blogging about politics by accident. I had intended to blog about local music.
I've run a music recording & rehearsal studio in Mill Hill, North West London since 1979. I play in a band called The False Dots, over the years we've played all over Europe, but now we mostly just play local shows as we're all too old and lazy. We play up tempo punky tinged rock, tinged with a very dark humour. We've bene joined on stage by various friends over the years such as Boz Boorer (Morrissey's Musical director) and Huw Lloyd Langton of Hawkwind.
I've organised many charity gigs with artists such as Kate Nash, Chris Spedding & Lee Thompson from Madness.
I also help organise many local festivals. I love a good row !!!! Oh and I did a blog on the Edgware Times for a while.
The Barnet Eye is always pleased to publish contributions from guest writers. Just CLICK HERE to email me your story.
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If you have received a penalty fare at a Thameslink Station and you sent an appeal off to the Independent Penalty Fare Appeals Service, did you notice that this says at the bottom of the letter you got back "London and South Eastern Railways T/A IPFAS". In other words, it's not independent, it's an arm of a train company. They actually run Blackfriars station.
I believe that it is a scandal that this service calls itself independent, but there is no right of appeal and it's run by one of the train operators. I believe that the penalty ticket scheme is a scam to generate extra profits for these companies.
A little tool to help you defeat the invisible men
I've added an IP address lookup tool. If you get an email or you have a stats counter on your blog, you can see who it is and where they came from using this. If you've got an email from someone, view the email. Click on File, then click on properties, then click on details. Now click on message source
You will see some text as follows :- X-Originating-IP: [184.108.40.206]
Where I've put 220.127.116.11, cut and paste this number into the IP lookup and hey presto, you know where the email came from.
If it says it's from your bank, but the IP address is Freds chipshop, you know it's a scam.