Friday, November 9, 2007

Malcolm's political incorrectness shows

By courtesy of makethemaccountable and a chain e-mail comes this:
A little jello wrestling, a little cheesecake, and, voila! Problem solved

By way of Amanda at Pandagon, who learned of it from Echidne, comes the news that Atrios was on C-SPAN the other night and he got asked the question.

You know THE Question.

"Where are all the women bloggers?"


As I wrote in Amanda's comments, "That question, 'Where are all the women bloggers?' a babelfish would translate as 'I only know the names of four or five bloggers. You, the guy I'm interviewing right now, and I just learned your name from my producer. Matt Drudge, Glenn Reynolds, and Mickey Kaus. Frankly, that's more names than my head can hold and I'm really not interested in reading any blogs. Can you please say something that will stir up a little controversy on the subject and help keep me awake through the rest of this interview?'"

But I think another way to translate it is, "Hey, fella, how come I have to sit here with you, a boring, pasty-faced white guy, instead of some hot chick in a mini-skirt, and, by the way, do you have Wonkette's phone number?"

There are plenty of women blogging, of course. What there are not are any who are regularly linked to by the top five or six male bloggers (Wonkette is a special case), who are the only ones the producers who book slots for talk shows care about.

I don't think the reason for this is sexism, although sexism always seems to come into play when those top male bloggers try to explain why they don't link to more female bloggers.

I think the reason is an extreme narrow-mindedness---or, to put it more flatteringly, a laser-like focus on a single aspect of human behavior. The top dog bloggers are almost autistically obsessed with politics as it's practiced in Washington D.C.

A good thought, says Malcolm. Put aside the insistence on life inside the Beltway, and the same could be said of our local scene.

We have the Big Boys like Iain Dale, Mick Fealty, and one or two more, but where is the Irish/British blogistas? Notice that Malcolm eschews the snidery of Paul Staines (by name and by nature) posing as "Guido Fawkes", who attempts a miscegenation of tabloidism and Matt Drudge.

In passing. Malcolm notes that Mick has de-hatted an analogous leporid today:

Lies, damned lies and…

Ireland 8th in the world for the empowerment of women? Can’t believe it? The answer’s simple: there’s not been a male President since Mary Robinson won office in 1990. IN fact the Republic comes 74th in terms of women’s representation in parliament and 28th for the number of women in Government”.


In the minimal world of our parochial archipelagian politics there are several useful female bloggers. Louise Bagshawe (Thursdays) and Theresa May (Fridays) do regular columns for Tim Mongomerie's ConservativeHome, which Malcolm revisits anytime he feels Tories might be encroaching into rationality. Both are outshone by the MP for Mid-Beds, Nadine Dorries, now properly acknowledged by the BCS for her presentation and content.

As for Lynne Featherstone of the LibDims, her site merely points up why Nadine Dorries's is so good. Featherhead is the supreme egoist: any politics always seem in third place to the personality-cult and the cheapest point-scoring (in that order). And why is the site hosted off-shore?

On the other (sensible) wing of politics there is the estimable Antonia Bance blogging from Rose Hill and Iffley.

But for the true, the blushful Hippocrene, Malcolm turns to two print-based sources which also appear on line: Tamzin Lightwater at the Spectator and Tara Hamilton-Miller at the New Statesman.

Both are, allegedly, deep inside the Tory Central beast. Tamzin twitters indiscreetly, but with delicious pertinacity, about the doings of the higher echelons of the Tory bureaucracy (including the inevitable Mrs Spelperson), while Tara tends to be a bit more cerebral (too much so to be a convincing Tory). Just when we were determining we need not concern ourselves about their doubtful femininity to enjoy their content, Malcolm, ever the butterfly mind, suddenly intrudes a recollection of Pepys diary for 22 April 1664:
to Hide Parke where great plenty of gallants, and pleasant it was, only for the dust. Here I saw Mrs Bendy, my Lady Spillman’s faire daughter that was, who continues yet very handsome.
He wonders if La Spelman can be any relation to Mrs Bendy.

For a change, this week Tara is the outright winner in bitchery. She has a delightful piece on the Top ten Tory twits, which should be essential reading. What is more remarkable, she does so without including Boris (only a pleasure deferred, surely), except in so far as this:
"Bonkers" Tories were of much higher quality in the Eighties and Nineties. What has happened to the rogues gallery of proper scoundrels, good old-fashioned trouser-droppers such as Mellor, Archer, Edwina? Yes, there's Boris, but even he hasn't put a foot wrong for nearly a month. This is not to say the boy David doesn't have to keep a watchful eye on his flock.

Over the years, the party has attracted eccentrics and surreal characters; their kind will continue to make column inches, and David will continue to be woken by many late-night phone calls.

Further back Malcolm recalls the fruit-cake MP (1950-1964) for Kidderminster, Sir Gerald Nabarro, who achieved fame in 1963, and anticipated Enoch Powell and Nigel Hastilow, by expostulating on the BBC Any Questions programme: "How would you feel if your daughter wanted to marry a big buck nigger with the prospect of coffee-coloured grandchildren?". Nabarro's secretary in the Commons was Christine Holman (surely a blogista manquée) later to achieve distinction in her own right by being married to Neil Hamilton of the brown-paper envelopes.

Of that same era there was, eccentric but no twit, the formidable Dame Irene Ward, 38 years an MP, mainly for Tynemouth. Let us, as we pass by, recall Alan Plater's description of Tynemouth: "All mink coats and no knickers".

Irene Ward went into Parliament by defeating Margaret Bondfield, the first woman to hold Cabinet office at Westminster (but not the first woman minister in the UK: that was, of course, Con Markiewicz, Minister of Labour in the outlawed First Dáil). Irene Ward must be unique in having insulted, to their faces, both Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler ("What absolute bosh you are talking!"). Malcolm persists in believing that it was Irene Ward (not Bessie Braddock or Nancy Astor) who was involved in the exchange with Churchill:
She: Winston! You're drunk!
He: Madam, you're ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.
Malcolm recalls, from the mid-1960s, seeing her arrive, behatted and in full sail, for a Friday night train out of King's Cross, as he was arriving on the opposite platform: royalty could not achieve such grandeur.

The mystery which remains in Tara's list is this:
A shadow secretary of state, who shall remain nameless, decided to sing and briefly weep to a Radiohead song in a northern university student union (determined, clenched, porcine fist punching the air during the rocky bit). She sang with such feeling that even the greasy left-wing undergraduates in the smoky basement were moved enough to keep the experience private.
Malcolm gathers that a small amount of serious money is on offer, from Hugo Rifkind in the Times People column, for further clarification thereof.

That, sadly, is as near as UK local politics gets to jello wrestling and cheesecake. However, if the story could be less precise, would Mary Harney (left: for the only time in her life) fit the bill? Sphere: Related Content

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