Ed Lines - Friday June 16, 2017

LIKE most men, I’m used to having a female boss. She’s called the wife.

You might be familiar with this sentiment – I make all the big decisions like who should run the country and whether there’s a God, she takes care of the minor detail like where we live, go on holiday, what we drive, what we eat/do/watch on telly, etc etc.

It works well enough. In the house at least.

During the election campaign there was a famously cringing moment when Theresa May and her meek husband Philip appeared on BBC’s The One Show sofa, trying ever so hard to appear normal. Theresa said she does the girly jobs, hubby the boy jobs around the house.

Did you buy that? For a solitary second? Me neither. He does as he’s told.

There’s a well-worn saying that if women ran the world, we would never have wars. I’m not so sure. 

I think if you locked Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a room, there would be blood, snot and ambulances before long.

Predictably, Merkel would eventually walk out unscathed, shoulders back, smirking and wiping her hands, before heading off to slot home the winning goal in a penalty shootout against England.

In fact now you can throw into that mix Arlene Foster, the leader of Northern Ireland’s DUP and potential partners in UK government.

Lads, I think we can safely say the gender equality gap has been bridged. And given women’s natural empathy and less macho worldview, the road to political stability will be strewn with rose petals, washed down with afternoon tea and cupcakes. Sisterly hugs and consensus all round. Yeah, right.

To suggest none of those women have the stomach for a fight is not just to underestimate them, but to completely misunderstand them as people and politics as the addictive brew it must be.

Prime Minister Theresa May has taken the country to the brink of chaos. 

Lord knows where it will end, but she has the brass neck to pretend that nothing much happened. Business as usual. She’s still the boss. She made the mess and now she’ll get us out of it – as if she’d just driven over broken glass and a tyre needed changing. Unbelievable.

If there was an moment of light relief last Friday morning it was seeing the emasculation of wee Nicola Krankie in Scotland and the ousting of Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson. At least that’s the independence argument settled for a while.

But no sooner had the toast been raised to the SNP being holed below the waterline than another monster arose, this time the overblown Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. 

Now she’s shouting the odds, telling Westminster (where she has no seat) how ‘her’ MPs will be dictating policy.

What’s that saying – power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

There’s nothing much soft around the edges with that lot. 

Indeed, I can’t think of a British male politician of recent years (or in Merkel’s case a European one) who has been so selfishly grasping of power as May, Sturgeon and now newcomer Davidson. Far too much ‘I’ and too little ‘we’ for my liking.

Formidable people, immensely convinced of their own superiority, knickers or y-fronts notwithstanding.

SO WHAT next for the United Kingdom? Where do we go from here? You tell me.

Mother Theresa may well be doing her best impression of Russia’s President Putin in pretending last week was a resounding mandate, that the nation overwhelmingly told her to get on with the job.

No, Prime Minister – those were millions of vee-signs being flipped at you. As promised, there was even one from me in the ballot box. Begone, woman.

And she will, sooner (hopefully) or later. There isn’t a snowflake’s chance in hell that the Conservative Party’s men in grey suits could let this disastrous egomaniac lead them into another general election. 

She’s damaged goods and is babysitting a period of necessary calm – if only for sterling and the stock markets – while Plan B sorts itself out in the background.

I said when she went to the country eight weeks ago that she risked taking the electorate for granted, that a shock could await.

It seems no lessons have been learned from the Referendum outcome, from the staggering rise of Donald Trump, from Emmanuel Macron and Marine le Pen revolutionising France’s political landscape.

The public are sick and tired of being lied to. May discovered that the hard way last week, as indeed did Sturgeon in Scotland. You take people for granted at your peril.

It’s wonderful, in one sense. In another, that the prospect of Prime Minister Corbyn now seems stunningly possible, it is frightening beyond words.

CONGRATULATIONS to the two local MPs Paula Sherriff and Tracy Brabin whose wholehearted efforts since being elected in their respective constituencies were rewarded.

It’s clear that the two seats reflect the changed national landscape, de facto two-party battlegrounds. It seems an age since Dewsbury had the highest BNP vote in the country and pleasing to note that they have disappeared pretty much without trace.

Both women appear to have harnessed the ethnic vote solidly behind Labour. Hey, that’s politics, however much I might be reviled by the sight of Ms Brabin out canvassing wearing a hijab. 

I get it, when being asked to dress appropriately to go into a place of worship like a mosque – it’s a mark of respect. But out and about campaigning on the streets of Mount Pleasant? Sorry, not for me.

Short of an overall Labour majority, the hung parliament is the best possible news for the pair, because it will make Tory plans to implement Boundary Commission changes next year very difficult indeed.

As they stood, both seats would have been redrawn to an extent that would have rendered them unrecognisable. 

For now I wish both Miss Sherriff and Ms Brabin well in continuing their fight to protect hospital services and generally improve the profile of the district.

SO MUCH for the rise of the sisterhood (see above), with women dominating the political landscape on all fronts. 

I was staggered to read that Oxford University is to allow female students to take exam papers home, in order to help a greater proportion of them gain 1st class degrees.

Apparently there’s an imbalance between male (37%) and female (32%) students getting firsts in history. Cambridge is also reviewing its exam system. It’s thought that the chaps perform better in the stressed environment of exams than the chapesses, which obviously just won’t do.

So instead, one of the greatest seats of learning in the world is bending its own rules to give the girls a leg up. To artificially inflate the stats to tick the equality box. No mention however of the fact that girls outperform boys at GCSE and A level, and outnumber them in higher education.

Whatever you do, don’t call it cheating…

IT SADDENS me that there’s no tragedy so awful that it can’t be seized upon for political opportunism.

During the terrible attacks on people at London Bridge and Borough Market two weeks ago, police officers both on and off duty displayed remarkable courage in tackling the madmen responsible.

As the grim human cost of the Grenfell Tower block blaze continues to unfold, the insuperable courage of firefighters who battled to exhaustion and beyond, should make us all proud of their service.

There is plenty of that, thankfully. 

Unfortunately, it takes only minutes for some people to turn it into a story not of human endeavour and bravery, but a politicised protest about cuts in the police and fire services.

That wouldn’t have made any difference to those tragic victims and to suggest it would demeans the efforts and sacrifices of the men and women who tried so valiantly to save people. There’s a time and a place and I’d suggest this isn’t it.

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