KneeGate – A Distraction or a Scandal? Is this about Brexit?
No young man who has worked in an office full of woman can ever say they have not been aware of sexual harassment. I experienced it several times in my varied career. It begins with a series of probing questions:
“Are you married?” “No!” “Courting?” “No!” “Seeing anyone?” “No!”
So begins a process of inquisition that is every day as the women try to penetrate into your private life. The young man is forced to behave in a manner that unequivocally demonstrates his heterosexuality. So he is required to pinch their bottoms, snog in the photocopying room and participate in a variety of other sordid activities. Happily I refrained. My sexuality was my business and I certainly did not want them to know it.
At one point I was the staff representative in a major Building Society. I pressed the management hard to provide equal conditions for our female staff. I won, for them, an equal mortgage concession. They would be able to have mortgages at the same concessionary rate as the men. I was so pleased to be able to report this back to the women.
“That’s not what we want. We want the men brought down to OUR rate!”
The True Nature of Gender Inequality
I gave up at that point. So called inequality between genders is, in my view, a product of attitudes like this. Their attitudes! Let’s face it, men’s attitudes are governed by what their mothers teach them in their early years. If women wanted change then they would teach differently. Maybe that will change if men are allowed more access to their children in those formative years. (Such things as dreams are made of.)
Political Correctness made its mark and later in life I worked for a local authority where it ruled absolutely. Women were promoted, in pay scale, above the men to serve this ideology. Merit did not enter into it.
Thus I found myself supervising and having to cover up for the incompetence of persons paid a higher grade than I. One of them was a South American woman who could not speak English. Given that English language was a primary tool of the job it beggared belief that they had awarded her a pay scale so far removed from her abilities.
KneeGate and How to Resist Unwanted Attention
Juliet Hartley-Brewer’s response to KneeGate was admirable. I doubt any man would ever win a battle with her and I do include any physical fight! She made it very clear the incident was trifling and had not offended her. Still the media prattled on about it as though Mr. Fallon had been accused of rape. He was not. He was accused of being a little too tactile. He was. Ms Hartley-Brewer told him where to get off.
The bandwagon, however, was rolling and we are treated to a parade of spurious, questionable and generally defamatory allegations about a raft of public figures. Most of them relate to petty incidents many years ago. Why the silence in between?
As a gay man who grew up in a society where my very existence was unlawful and hence blackmail was an everyday possibility I never submitted to any form of “power motivated” attempt on my person. Women are as capable, as I am, of resisting unwanted attention and probably more so. I had to overcome the difficulties posed by the law, stigma and prejudice.
Resisting unwanted attention is simple. You say “No”. If the unwanted attention persists you remove yourself from the situation. If that means moving to another job then so be it. I have done it.
A Smokescreen That Will Cause Real Harm.
All this bluster is a smokescreen which will ensure that where serious allegations need to be made they will be lost in the fog. Real harm is likely to be the result of this petty parade of inconsequential gossip. Anything serious is a matter for the police and those making these claims should, first, have made their report there. It seems none of them have.
The Real Reason for KneeGate and the Threat to Brexit
So why is all this happening and at this particular time? It seems to me there are those who wish to undermine the Government in order to torpedo Brexit.
They see Mrs. May as in a weak position and yet is she so weak? She depends on the support of the Northern Ireland Unionists for a majority. They need her in office to prevent Sinn Fein/IRA allies (Corbynite Labour) from achieving power. That alone will prevent an election for the duration of the Brexit process. She is not weak.
Wild stories flow about cabinet division and division in the Tory ranks. It is gossip. A handful of allegations have been thrown in about opposition MPs to throw us off the scent.
No-one who has studied a little history can be in any doubt that the Tories will cling to power like grim death. It is their pièce de résistance. They know how to keep power and meanwhile, it is rumoured, there will be a large number of new Tory Peers in the New Years’ Honours list. The surprise is that Mrs. May has not created them already.
After the New Year, then, Mrs. May will have a majority in the Lords and that will have put paid to the Lib/Lab obstruction in there. Brexit will be pushed ahead and it will be plain sailing. Whether that Brexit will satisfy the wishes of the British people is another matter for discussion when we see what is delivered. However David Davies is a committed Brexiteer and we should give him the space to do his job.
Who is to Blame? The Mopping Up.
So the only thing to consider then is: who is responsible for stirring all this stuff up? There are a number of suspects. Top of my list is a certain gaggle based in Brussels. They desperately wish to undermine our Brexit team since they are faced with a financial meltdown when we leave the EU. Russia is not interested and Russia is more likely to prefer our exit from the EU according to certain commentators. The USA is now led by a President sympathetic to our exit from the EU. What we can be sure of is that all this gossip and spin is dirty tricks intended to undermine the British Nation State.
Michael Fallon has thrown himself on the funeral pyre. It was probably a pointless sacrifice.
Gavin Williamson, his replacement, has been an effective operative at the heart of Government and is a good constituency MP. He represents a constituency which comprises the rural borders of my home city. If he were popular in the party then he would not have been doing his job as a whip.
By resisting the opportunity for a major reshuffle Mrs. May has avoided creating new enemies. Moving Esther McVey into the whip’s office she creates balance. These are not the actions of a Prime Minister on the ropes. They are pragmatic moves designed to hold on to power.