Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour Party

The French Presidential elections are getting exciting, and the focus of the UK media has turned to French expats living in the UK. Quite how they will vote is uncertain, with vastly different pieces in both the Guardian and the Telegraph; the latter claims ‘Most French expats support Sarkozy and the Guardian meanwhile says ‘support for Sarkozy looks to be wearing thin.’

There are an estimated 300,000-400,000 people who have hopped across the pond to live in the UK. The Guardian article interviewed a professor of French and European politics, Phillippe Marliere, at UCL who said that the idea the French community is inevitably right wing is out dated, and the picture has changed over the last 18 years.

The Telegraph draws on a survey, for the newspaper Le Petit Journal and TV5 Monde, which showed that 37% of French expats would cast their vote for the conservative Sarkozy in the first round of the presidential election on April 22, while only 27% would vote for the other frontrunner, the left-wing François Hollande.

You can read the Telegraph article here. And the Guardian article is available here.

Last month reduced the top rate of Tax to 45p but there are plans to go further. In a pre-election give away the Chancellor is planning to cut further the top rate for high earners to 40p.

I was left angry but not surprised when it was revealed yesterday that senior Tories have told Vincent Moss, political editor of the British newspaper the Sunday Mirror, that Osborne is determined to abolish the 45p rate before the expected election in 2015.

A Tory source said: ‘Osborne wants to get it down to 40p as soon as possible. That is unlikely to be till 2014. But he wants it in place before the election.

‘The 50p rate was Labour policy and we’re determined to cut it back to 40p.’

I wonder where the Lib Dems will stand on this issue.

You can read the full story here.

Yesterday’s Observer had a great profile of Anna van Heeswijk who has just been appointed CEO of Object, an influential feminist organisation in the UK. She will be tasked with spearheading the fight against the “pornification” of society.

The appointment comes only weeks after Van Heeswijk gave powerful and influential evidence to the Leveson inquiry about the sexist portrayal of women in the press.

This will be a great challenge but as the profile reveals Anna was born in to a strongly political household and she says ‘there was no way I wasn’t going to be a feminist’.

You can read the profile in full here.

Murdoch’s Sun ate women’s dignity

Labour Party

Congratulations to campaigning MP (and fellow blogger) Tom Watson for exposing the bullying of women members of staff at the tabloid Sun.

According to Watson, Sun editor Dominic Mohan, told the Leveson enquiry “it is wrong to suggest that the Sun trivialises offences against women.”

Not so, says Watson, and I know who I believe. Watson tells us on his blog he has inside knowledge that at least five female journalists on the paper have been sacked in the last eight years. At least two of the sacked women went on to win compensation after challenging their dismissals. Two out of five strikes me as a high percentage and provides strong evidence of serious discrimination against female employees.

More recently, Whitehall editor at the Sun Clodagh Hartley had a complaint of bullying against her upheld by an independent adjudicator. This will, of course, be of great concern the beleaguered Mohan, who has a lot on his plate after the recent arrests of Mike Sullivan, the paper’s crime editor; the former managing editor, Graham Dudman; executive editor, Fergus Shanahan; and Chris Pharo, a news desk executive.

Appalling though this is, unfortunately it’s not the whole story. The Sun still publishes topless and virtually naked women on page three – a practice deeply disrespectful to women, which I believe should immediately be consigned to the scrapheap.  

The Sun is not just a newspaper, it’s theUK’s largest selling national daily with a circulation of 7,774,000. It’s our most popular newspaper and it behaves in a totally unacceptable way towards its female staff. It also publishes demeaning images of women.

I wholeheartedly agree with the four women’s groups – End Violence Against Women, Equality Now, Object and Eaves – who appeared before the Leveson inquiry arguing that the Sun should ban sexualised images which would not be shown on television before the 9.00pm watershed. As Former Labour MP Clare Short, who has campaigned against page three, said in the Guardian “The bottom line is that pictures that would not be permissible in the workplace or on broadcast media before the watershed can still be published in a daily newspaper.”

What is more, the newspaper reading public do not want page three, perhaps understanding how degrading it is to women. According to the Huffington Post, Platform 51, formerly the Young Women’s Christian Association, commissioned a nationally representative poll which showed that twice as many women would support a ban on pictures of topless women appearing in daily newspapers as would oppose it. And it’s not just women. Almost a third of the men questioned also supported a ban.

So it’s actually the Sun “wot ‘as got it wrong”.

Disrespect to women and actions such as bullying at work and publishing pictures of undressed women are no longer acceptable. Thankfully the world has moved on from the 1970s when the Sun introduced page three. It’s about time the Sun itself caught up with the modern world.