“Window dressing” indeed was my verdict on ex-Europe Minister and ex-Cabinet hopeful Caroline Flint as I opened today’s newspapers to be confronted by her dIsporting herself on the front pages in poses more suited to Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham or Katie Price than a member of Her Majesty’s Government. (My apologies to these three women if they find the comparison offensive).
But someone who has spent her entire political life fighting for more women in senior positions, be it in politics, finance, the law or any other profession, I was truly shocked to see one of my own, a former Minister of the Crown no less, behaving in such a way. As politicians we are professional women and therefore should uphold certain standards. Above all, women in the professions have a duty to be dignified, to do the very best they can and to set an example. In general that is the only way to succeed and provide role models for young women in the future.
Women at the top in serious jobs should not therefore pose like what a male colleague of mine calls “dolly birds”. I would go further and call Caroline Flint’s antics on display to the entire nation overtly sexual, something which is fine for her to do in private, but not all over the newspapers. But, in any case, it would be misleading to identify Caroline as an example on shining intellectual brightness.
It is perhaps unfortunate that we are not yet advanced enough for women in politics, and men to some extent, to be obviously sexual in public while retaining their ability to be taken seriously. I wish this were not so, but since it so clearly is, I believe women should play by the rules.
Caroline Flint, I have no doubt, has set the cause of women’s equality back some few years. It was an unnecessary and egotistical exhibition which I, for one, found offensive. I hope no other “sister” will act in the same way.
And finally…..rather than posing for suggestive photos, Caroline Flint as Europe Minister would have been better employed talking to us, the Labour MEPs, about European policy and the European election campaign. It would also have helped had she read the Lisbon Treaty rather than admitting her ignorance and laziness.