Episode 80 – Tiernan speaks to Charlotte Chorley (@charchorley) at What Women Want 2.0 (@whatwomenwantXX) on sexual harassment in Parliament and gender equality, plus a look at just what it is that parliamentary whips do.
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Tiernan speaks to Charlotte Chorley (@charchorley) at What Women Want 2.0 on sexual harassment in Parliament and gender equality, plus a look at just what it is that parliamentary whips do.
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PPB – Episode 80
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Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast episode 80! I’m Tiernan Douieb and after reading that the Queen’s Estate has invested millions in offshore tax avoiding account, I can’t help but feel if they could send her majesty to the Cayman Islands as well, then us taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for her fucking heating bill.
The Paradise Papers sounds like it could be a sitcom about a youth press team on an idyllic island who solve crimes while swanning around in swimwear, but sadly the reality is that it’s more like a Columbo remake where you know exactly whodunit right from the start but catching them is super hard on account of them being so rich they don’t even pay for their misdemeanours. 13.4m documents aka one of your boring twitter threads have been leaked from a leading offshore finance firm detailing how, much like was revealed with the Panama Papers two years ago, ultra wealthy moneybags have secretly investing money so they avoid paying millions in tax. This leak has revealed that commerce secretary to US President and pumpkin carved with a plastic spoon Donald Trump has a stake in Russian firm that has been sanctioned by the US, yet again proving Trump has more connections to Russia than the Druzhba oil pipeline. Also on the list are Conservative peer and man who looks like you could only catch him with a Velcro roller Lord Ashcroft, who avoided questions from the BBC’s Panorama reporter by hiding in a toilet which is the only public service he’s ever contributed too. On the footage of him being confronted, Lord Ashcroft just replies to all questions with ‘Dear, Dear, Dear’ presumably his comment on how costly to the UK his tax avoidance is. Also on the list is U2 frontman and Glamour Magazine’s 2016 Woman of the year because he’s the sort of guy would try that level of identity fraud if it’d mean he could avoid paying even more taxes, that’s right, Bono. A man who can’t give to society but happily gives away free albums to people that don’t want them like if the Red Cross ran over people so they could turn up at your house and forcefully do surgical soutre on your perfectly fine arm. Oh and three actors from Mrs Brown’s Boys have been named as well, proving that they are yet again involved in something that is no laughing matter. The Boston Consulting Group says about $10 trillion is held offshore and either governments need to curb this and reclaim it, or we all need to start drawing up some modern day treasure maps pretty soon.
Meanwhile in Westminster there have been even more accusations about sexual harassment by politicians who seem to completely understand what No means when it comes to voting for things that will benefit the public, but not in any other area of life. There has rightfully been a lot of fallout from this and based on the past week you almost wonder if Guy Fawkes would’ve had better luck skipping the gunpowder and destroying parliament by leaking WhatsApp about messages about perverts instead. Allegations about Michael Fallon lunging at a journalist and touching another’s knee said he was far more of a disgusting offense secretary than a defence one, and he stepped down from his role in the cabinet. Fallon, a man who was worringly previously thought of as a safe pair of hands, said that his conduct had fallen below the high standards we require of the armed forces, which is an arguable statement if you remember Abu Graib. Fallon hasn’t resigned as an MP meaning he obviously thinks his conduct is totally fine for the people of Sevenoaks. After his resignation Fallon, a terrifying image of what Beaker from the Muppets would look like if he was old, fat and a sex offender, told papers that his behaviour was acceptable 10 years ago, which it wasn’t, but does also suggest for the first time that he preferred life under a Labour government. Incidentally the only time the excuse ‘this behaviour was acceptable 10 years ago’ is allowed, is if you’re 14 and you’ve just shat yourself in public. PM and only person to get an error 404 code when she does a personality test Theresa May, appointed a new Defence Secretary in the shape of Gavin Williamson, former chief whip, aka the man who was in charge of the dossier of indiscretion in the first place. Yes, it’s very much like keeping your friends close and your… no wait, that’s it. It does sound more though like Williamson appointed himself and many Conservative MPs are very angry it with one unnamed politician telling press that it was like a ‘cold cup of sick’ and they would know having had to do those sorts of public school initiations. Williamson is well known for keeping a pet tarantula in his office, though I’d argue based on the past few weeks that’s probably one of the least creepy things in Parliament right now.
Other names exposed this week have been Secretary of State Damien Green who police have claimed had extreme porn on his parliamentary computers in 2008, which in any other job is gross misconduct and also back in ’08, a real drain on data usage and broadband speed, but he has not yet been suspended, possibly because depending on the porn found, suspending him might be a turn on. Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been suspended and Tory whip and unfortunately named Christopher Pincher has handed himself into the police. It’s important to remember though that this is a cross-party problem and there have been several reports of abusive behaviour within the Labour party too, with former Labour NEC member Bex Bailey very bravely revealed that she was raped by a party figure at a Labour event in 2011 but was discouraged from reporting it by a Labour official who warned that doing so could damage her. Which is really chilling. The idea that it’s more important to a party that a victim stays victimised than supporting her and clamping down on abuse is very upsetting and really calls into question just what is meant by for the many, not the few. Vulgar gooseberry and Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins has been suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct towards a young Labour activist. Labour leader and coddled egg enthusiast Jeremy Corbyn has defended promoting Hopkins as Shadow Culture Secretary in 2016 despite knowing about allegations as he said he thought the case had been closed. Just goes to show that if you have been accused of a crime and struggle to find work, it might well be worth trying for Parliament as they’re a lot more lax about it. There have been a lot of huffy complaints by angry male commentators that this is all a witch hunt against men or some sort of liberal attack that will lead to a total ban on all sex which it isn’t, it’s about consent, safety and stopping those in power thinking they can do what they like to people against their will. If you genuinely can’t tell the difference between consensual flirting and sex and harassment I’d suggest you put exactly that on your Tinder profile and we’ll all enjoy watching you spend the rest of your life alone. Or in prison. Or both.
In other news Labour have accused the Conservatives of sabotaging a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 after Tory MPs made very long speeches reducing the time available for it to be heard. Of course the irony is, that the longer the speeches from the Tories, the more time will pass and those 16 year olds will get closer to being allowed to vote at 18 and kicking them out. Conservatives also abstained on another Opposition Day motion, this time on a vote to force the government to release the Brexit impact reports. It passed unanimously but Speaker Bercow advised that as it was a humble address it should be seen as binding. If the Conservatives are going to keep mocking these opposition day motions I really think the next one should be a vote that proves all the Tories smell and abstaining means you agree.
Secretary of State for International Development and Disney villain in waiting Priti Patel has had to apologise after it was revealed that she held a number of undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials while she was on a private holiday. I mean, I’ve had shit holidays but how bad are the hotel breakfasts and music at the pool to make you think, you know what, how about I skip having cocktails on the beach today to meet a veritable war criminal who thinks Trump is courageous. Still I suppose this does justify why she previously said she thought British workers were lazy, I mean look at them, all having an actual holiday on holiday. Meeting with foreign officials without government approval is a breaking of ministerial code, especially when, as in this case, no officials were present and no minutes were kept. But Patel insists the Foreign Office and Foreign Secretary and human pillowcase filled with mashed potato Boris Johnson knew about the meetings as they were underway. So not in advance, but while they were happening which is the political version of indicating as you’re already turning. Patel also mentioned that it was 12 meetings and not a handful as previously suggested and that she’s gained commissioning work as a result of them. Labour have called for an inquiry into the matter and she has been personally reprimanded by Theresa May which probably meant May mumbled a bit while Priti stood there knowing full well if she is fired then this past week has left the Prime Minister with less of a cabinet and more of a single drawer bedside table.
And the Bank of England have risen interest rates for the first time in a decade which is great for savers, terrible for mortgage owners and confusing for people like me who are saving in the hope that one day I might be able to get a mortgage. This information comes as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said it is certain that Brexit has already cost each household more than £600 per year and I can’t help but wish that we’d all had a vote in 2016 just for every home to have two Nintendo Switches instead. We’d all be just as broke but far happier although there’d probably still be some issues about giving all the taxpayers money to a plumber from Italy.
Hello podchamps, here we are again, another week of news that people are terrible, another podcast where jokes feel inappropriate to everything. Hooray! I’m not even going near the US stuff this week where politicians seem to think it’s helpful to send prayers to people who were attacked by a gunman in a church while praying. Yeah that’ll really be useful. Like sending lilos to the victims of a tsunami. See what I mean about comedy feeling inappropriate? But thank you for listening, thank you also to all the people who reviewed the podcast on iTunes last week, there was a ton of nice ones that all appeared as I refreshed the page for the billionth like a someone with needy gratification issues, and they are all super appreciated. As clever pod people keep telling me, and by that I mean other people that do podcasts not weird alien types who live in cocoon type enclosures, reviews do help you grow an audience and so if you haven’t given this show a review on your iTunes or stitcher or podhole or castarse or audiobastard, ok I’ve made those last ones up, but wherever you can review the show please do as it really helps both for listeners and my general nervous dependence on praise. Also thank you to Catherine for the Ko-Fi donation and again if you want to donate to helping me make this show better by either being able to take more time to do it, or just so I can afford a gold lamé hat to wear while recording so you the quality resonates – I honestly just had to google what lame is, I’m so unaware – then you can give a monthly donation to patreon.com/parpolbro where I’ve completely failed to add any sort of bonuses but will do one day in the future, maybe far future – or a one-off donation to ko-fi.com/parpolbro.
Few things to plug this week. As mentioned last week I am doing my most recent Edinburgh Fringe show at 2 Northdown in Kings Cross on Sunday 19th November at 8.15pm and that’ll probably be the last time I ever do it live. Tickets are only £5 which you can grab at tickettext.co.uk and search for my name and I am filming it so please come and fill seats, if only so it looks like a comedy special and not a lonely man berating some empty chairs for 60 minutes. The other show I wanted to plug this week is November 21st I’m hosting a show at Arts At The Old Firestation in Oxford as part of an amazing bill featuring Josie Long, Jonny and the Baptists, Stuart Goldsmith and Bisha K Ali all to raise money for the Firestation’s tireless charity work in helping the homeless. The night is called Bah Humbug and you can grab tickets at oldfirestation.org.uk. Lastly, I regularly forget to mention other podcasts I like on this here thingy and considering you’re definitely podcast listening types – what do you mean you didn’t know? Oh no, I’m sorry, this isn’t just how birdsong sounds where you live. Sorry about that – anyway, I’m a big fan of Talking Politics and Reasons To Be Cheerful for a politics fill, but also this week, please do check out Canadian podcast Semi-Intellectual Musings not only because they were kind enough to pop a promo for this show on theirs, but also because it’s a great podcast and this week’s episode is particularly great and is about both Blade Runner old and new but also Gord Downie the lead singer of Tragically Hip who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, do give it a go. It’s called Semi-Intellectual Musings.
On this week’s show I’m not gonna look at the Paradise Papers as I’m sure there’ll be more to look at by next week. So instead and more important right now, I’m talking to Charlotte Chorley at What Women Want 2.0 all about the prevalence of sexual harassment not only in parliament and Hollywood but also, well, sadly everywhere, and also on gender equality in general. Also there is a look at just what it is that chief whips do – SPOILER it’s not being great at ice cream – and yeah, there’s some of this shizz:
In Parliament on Friday, Labour MP for Oldham Jim McMahon put forward a debate on lowering the age of voting to 16 and it’s not just because in every picture of Jim McMahon he looks like a kid who’s just received his a-level results and did very well. Currently in England and Wales you can legally have sex, get married, drive a moped, get a National Insurance number, choose your GP, leave home, pilot a glider, but a lottery ticket, apply for a passport without parental consent, change your name by deed poll, join a trade union and join the army. But while the prospects of riding a 50cc scooter onto a battle field with your loved one might seem exciting, it’s somewhat dampened by having no say or vote in who gets to make the larger decisions about your future. Especially when so many of the votes in recent years will affect younger people far more than those who’ll be long dead by the time Brexit arrives and robots have all the jobs. Scotland lowered the age of voting to 16 for the independence referendum in 2014 and has kept it for Scottish Parliament elections but can’t for the Westminster ones. Wales is now looking at similar for the Welsh Assembly and countries such as Germany, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ecuador, Austria, and Argentina have voting from 16 too. But in the UK there is a resistance from the Conservatives in particular to allow the same for UK Parliamentary elections. On Friday several Tory MPs spoke to an overly long time to ensure that the debate was delayed, pushing it back to December the 1st, and giving excuses as generic conservative man – really you try and find a better description for him – Bernard Jenkin did that 16 or 17 year olds don’t have the level of political knowledge or maturity required. Which is bollocks as I reckon I’ve met 7 year olds who’d make more sensible voting decisions than most adults have done at the last few elections, let alone 16 year olds who the same party keep insisting they have to try to appeal to. Well telling them they aren’t clever enough to vote might not help that youth appeal eh Tories? One of the main reasons the Conservatives might not be keen on it is that several surveys over the last few years have shown that younger people reject the ideas of a capitalist society and tend to prefer the possibility of a Labour government on account of having spent their more recent years under rule from a man who almost certainly had sex with a pigs head and a woman who spent lots of money losing seats at an election. There are currently 15 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK so that could make quite a difference to future elections if they were allowed to and enthused to take part. You only need to look at the members of youth parliament to see that many of them would provide a more sensible debate than ‘I’m not sure they have the level of political knowledge required’ even though if they did say that about many older people, they’d probably be right. Sadly it is anticipated that not enough parliamentary time will be found to make votes for 16 and 17 year olds law, proving once again that there’s never any for young people. The British Youth Council has a Votes At 16 campaign which you can find at votesat16.org or on Twitter @votesat16 if you’re a young person or well of any age and want to get involved in giving them a voice in UK democracy.
INTERVIEW PART 1
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of women being allowed to vote in the UK. It is really odd to think that up until 1918 that only men were allowed to exercise the democratic right to not vote because it’s raining outside and then spend the next four years blaming everyone else for things being shit. But despite a century of voting, women still aren’t represented properly in parliament, with only 208 female MPs out of 650 in the Commons, and as the last few weeks of news has shown, its not exactly a welcoming atmosphere for any women who want to pursue a career in politics. There is still a lot of gender inequality in society too, with a recent survey showing the gender pay gap was from anywhere between 18-54% in earnings difference between men and women. Chester was the 54% as it seems it’s not just the walls there that are medieval. Evidence shows all the government’s austerity measures hit women twice as hard as men, then there is the doubling of rape reports in the UK but the lowest rape conviction rates in all of Europe, and the representation of women in the media is still pretty ropey. I mean c’mon, if the last time I got sand in my underwear is anything to go by, no one wants to be beach body ready. Tammy Wynette was not wrong when she said sometimes its hard to be a woman, I mean, except with the rest of that song because it’s all about being submissive and forgiving to another shitty man. As one of them men things, I am genuinely baffled and upset by the fact that in 2017 in a supposedly developed country we still treat 51% of the global population with less respect than the other 49%, especially as most of the same people who decry that feminism is evil etc would see those percentages in a referendum and demand the will of the people is respected.
So with the news being filled with cases of sexual harassment in Westminster, equal pay day being on November the 10th and people still getting angry about the new Doctor Who I spoke this week to Charlotte Chorley at What Women Want. We spoke about what everyone should be doing to further gender equality in the UK, and the upcoming What Women Want 2.0 survey report. I usually do a bit more in this interview pre-amble but rather than me badly mainsplain, I’m going to hand over to Charlotte to tell you what what women want is all about. No not the Mel Gibson film for which every year since it’s become more and more evident the answer is definitely not him, but what women want the survey. So here’s Charlotte:
INTERVIEW PART 1:
I don’t know if you, like me, get regularly confused about the way in which parliament works. So much of it seems to be unchanged from the 1800’s and I’m constantly amazed that votes don’t end in jousts or the losing side in debates going in the stocks and having tomatoes and the plague chucked at them. For example, I assumed for many years that the job of chief whip was for someone who was best at taming lions, or Indiana Jones impressions or I dunno, rounding up all the best parliamentary walnut sweets. But unsurprisingly, it’s none of those things and in fact with the past week of abuse allegations, I thought it might be important to look at what the job of the whips actually are.
According to Parliament.uk whips are MPs or peers appointed by each party in parliament party to help organise their party’s contribution to parliamentary business. It goes on to say that one of their responsibilities is to make sure the maximum number of their party members vote and vote the way their party wants. So that sounds sort of straight forward right? They’re like the one in the group who books the table at the restaurant, orders everything and makes sure no one skimps on paying the bill even though they didn’t drink and didn’t like the mains. The whips have a lot of influence with party leaders, and keep a close eye on how MPs vote, meaning newer MPs can improve future prospects if they vote properly and similarly if you defy the whip it can ruin any chances of a cabinet position.
Except that’s not quite it because whips and their little black books of information on MPs were the inspiration for House Of Cards, the UK version not the US version also now wrought with scandal – though personally I think having sex offender play a US president makes it more realistic. Whips are known to collect information on MPs that they can then use to sway them with in future votes and this has been admitted by previous whips, such as Tim Fortescue who was Conservative government whip 1970-73 who told the BBC several years ago that when you are trying to persuade a member to vote the way he didn’t want to vote on a controversial issue – which is part of your job – it is possible to suggest that perhaps it would not be in his interest if people knew something or other – very mildly.’ So blackmailing then, which is a crime in the UK if it involves making a demand with menace and if the blackmailer is set to gain from the result, which sounds a lot like the job of a whip. But hey, in parliament it’s all just tradition right? If that’s not odd enough, Chief whips are also known in parliament as ‘enforcers’ which is a pretty sinister nickname outside of comic books and Swedish metal bands.
So in light of recent allegations it has to be wondered how much the whips knew and still do know about MPs scandals. As brought up by Labour MP Lisa Nandy at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, three years ago she brought evidence to Theresa May that parliamentary whips had used information about sexual abuse to get loyalty and votes from MPs. Nandy said that she’d brought it up three times and it had been ignored three times, previously mentioning in regards to the now mostly also ignored Child Abuse Inquiry. There was a lot of talk at the time May announced that inquiry in 2014 that evidence from whips records from the 70s and 80s about MPs involvement child abuse would start to surface but a number of senior government figures confirmed that much of those historic notes had conveniently been destroyed because hey you know if there was nothing to see it didn’t matter right? I mean what better way to prove there wasn’t damning evidence against abusers in parliament in those books like shredding them to show it was all just paper that no one will ever see?
In response to Nandy’s question on Wednesday Theresa May said there was no excuse for party whips not to report abuse allegations to police and Home Secretary Amber Rudd has since openly denied that whips keep any sort of black book about MPs anymore. But knowing her it means they now have a red or blue book just for the same purposes.
But even if the black book is gone, the way the whips work is still surrounded in secrecy, with the excuse that it’s so the other side doesn’t know their tactics like the world shittest game of battleships, but what that means is there are no formal ways to report issues within parliament. No ways for MPs or staff to make complaints about misconduct without it going to through the whips and then they decide whether to do anything with those allegations or just pop them in a book for later use to stop them being ruinous to the party. Yes the whip system feels less like a structure that should be used for the hub of country’s leadership and more like something from a secret society in a 2000’s film starring one of the ones from Dawson’s Creek and potentially as career ending for many.
The current government chief whip is Julian Smith, a man who reported the Guardian newspaper to the police because they leaked the Edward Snowdon files so it’s obvious he’s not a fan of people revealing secrets no matter how much they breach acceptable limits of privacy and safety. Smith was only appointed after former chief whip Gavin Williamson, a man who liked to intimidate MPs with his pet tarantula Cronus as if to say I have my own web of deceit, took the position of defence secretary. So the man that knew the secrets is now in the cabinet in charge of defence secrets and the new man in charge of secrets hates people sharing secrets. If they do know about further allegations of abuse it’s likely we’ll only hear about them if they want us to. And it’s this sort of crap and the fact that MPs hire their own staff, that leads to such an abuse of power in Westminster. I don’t know why they can’t just scrap this archaic bullshit and get an HR department instead, though it could be because the whips seem to view anyone other than themselves as only human resources in the first place.
And now, back to Charlotte:
INTERVIEW PART 2
Oh god sorry about that what about the mens question. My brain said why don’t you ask in a sensible way how men can be involved too, and that was what I came out with. This is why I haven’t been asked to host newsnight yet. Huge thanks to Charlotte for the chat and you can find What Women Want 2.0 on Twitter @whatwomenwantxx on facebook at facebook.com/whatwomenwant2.0 and do add the 2.0 or you do really get a page about that shitty Mel Gibson film, and online at thisiswhatwomenwant.org. You can also find Charlotte on Twitter @charchorley too. Equal Pay Day is on November 10th and you can read more about that and how you can help highlight the inequality in pay for women via the Fawcett Society at fawcettsociety.org.uk/equal-pay-day.
As Charlotte mentioned Sisters Uncut can be found at sistersuncut.org or @sistersuncut, the Guilty Feminist podcast is excellent and you can find that on all your favourite podcast providers, Alee Murabit can be found on Twitter @almmura and Joy Buolamwini is on Twitter @jovialjoy.
Also something that I don’t do often enough considering how I make her read through this weekly to tell me which jokes are shit or not, my wife who is on Twitter @proresting regularly highlights sexism in the acting industry and also on the Casting Call Woe tumblr so please check that out too.
As I ask every single god diggety damn week if you have someone you’d like me to talk to or an issue you’d like me to talk to someone about, just let me know. It’s that easy. I will actually listen, well unless I see something shiny and distracting while you tell me about it. Maybe don’t tell me near a bacofoil factory or discoball. Where you can tell me though is via @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast group on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you could shine a giant ParPolBro symbol into the sky at night hoping that it’ll summon me urgently so you can pass on your message but in reality I’ll probably not see it due to winter weather and you’ll just get a cold and a terribly high electricity bill. Best to just email.
And that is all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast. Thank you again for listening to the show and as I ask every week like a broken record which doesn’t make sense because if you’re old enough to remember records they didn’t really repeat when broken, they just, well, didn’t play and were quite sharp and dangerous. So as I say every week like a repeating thing, possibly one of those birds, you know the ones, please do tell other people about the show, please do give it a review, or a like or a subscribe on your fave podcast apps and please do donate via ko-fi.com/parpolbro or patreon.com/parpolbro if you enjoy.
Big thanks as always to Acast for hosting the show, and to my brother The Last Skeptik for the music and don’t forget you can get his latest album and his podcast from iTunes and all those sorts of places too.
This will be back next week when Priti Patel will be in trouble for taking time out on her trip to Disneyland to have a meeting with Recip Erdogan on Space Mountain.
This week’s show was brought to you by Paradise Papers: the only rizla paper made with £100 notes direct from the Queen that you can smoke knowing full well a hospital is struggling as you enjoy.
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