Janice Atkinson for The Daily Mail
2nd February 2012
Just another ordinary day in the House of Commons’ world of female victimhood.
Yesterday, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Increasing Women’s representation in Parliament hosted ‘Female politicians and the Media’. Sadly the event failed to rouse much interest amongst men. Indeed, there were almost no men present.
Males at hand to discuss this critical topic were the panel Chairman George Pascoe-Watson, a former political editor of The Sun, a scattering of male interns and one or two blokes from the BBC. It was a poignant moment when Angie Bray MP commented on the male-free nature of proceedings and suggested that we could have had more of a debate had we had males in the room. Hear hear, came my reply!
George P-W opened the meeting by asking whether the media should think about the way they help women in Parliament. Has George gone soft, or was this just an opening gambit? The media is not there to ‘help’. Apart from the BBC, the media in this country are run as businesses and as such they must appeal to their target audiences. The media industry is a people business and people buy stories about people and human interest is interesting.
So far, so normal, until we wandered on to the topic of breasts.
Not politicians as such, but some on the panel were concerned about Page 3 girls, complaining that it is disgraceful that topless women are allowed opposite the main political page. This salvo morphed into a conversation about a female politician who had a very serious message to get across, but the media concentrated on her cleavage. Anne McElvoy, in a moment of clarity, suggested that she put her breasts away. Politics is the business of peacocks – male and female peacocks – and if you can’t match your image to your message, best not try.
More moaning ensued about the coverage of female politicians, at a lowly 22 per cent. But then it was pointed out that roughly 22 per cent of Parliamentarians are women. So no points there.
So to the turn of Janet Street-Porter, a doyenne of the media over many decades and indeed of this newspaper. She demolished the trifling complaints and told them to stop whinging. She railed at one MP who called the Daily Mail ‘fluffy bunny’, telling her that the Daily Mail has more female readers and writers than the Guardian. You get the media you deserve, and she would rather have her nails pulled out than appear in GQ. Anne McElvoy agreed, pointing out that the Daily Mail is a serious middle-market newspaper. Quite right too. In reality, they’d all cut their right arms off to get into this fluffy bunny.
Janet went on to say that when she worked at the BBC she was asked to sit on its equality committee. She retorted that she was superior to that and the whole concept was a backward step for women. She was sounding a bit like Jeremy Clarkson, but in a good way.