If the leopardskin kitten heel fits …

Well, thank goodness someone has stepped up to the mark and agreed to take on this battered old country as it tries to recover from the Brexit bodyblow.

In the absence of any sort of a response from Labour, we should be thankful for Theresa May’s evident sense of duty and responsibility. The mess isn’t of her making, but let’s hope she can clear it up. And, while we’re on the subject, it’s a good job Andrea Leadsom didn’t get any further in the contest. She’s become the latest in a very long line to run for the hills, after having her rather silly answers on the issue of motherhood ‘misrepresented’ in a newspaper interview.

As any journalist knows, asking women their position on children is absolutely standard practice. Most newsrooms are still run by middle-aged, middle-class white men, who pretty much think all women are the same. I’d already heard that some of these men were astounded that May and Leadsom seemed to have different views on things – they are both women, both Tories, aren’t their positions therefore identical? Er, no. Even saying one likes fancy shoes wouldn’t help. Any shoe that isn’t a lace-up brogue from Church’s is foreign territory, as far as these chaps are concerned.

The difference between having children and not having children is something fundamental about women that men in newsrooms can easily grasp. It can make a convenient demarkation between what they perceive as different types of women – ‘maternal’ types who reproduce and then have to juggle all the demands that go with their choice, and ‘career’ women, who are thought to have shelved some essential part of their womanhood to get on in a man’s world and may well then be ‘tougher’.

Yes, these are ridiculous stereotypes. But they are alive and flourishing everywhere – and particularly in right-wing newsrooms. Andrea Leadsom ought to have been aware of this. She wasn’t elected yesterday, and presumably has been interviewed before. You can bet that every article about her has stressed the amazing feat that she has pulled off by producing three children and still having a career. I’m not disagreeing, at all. It’s amazing that anybody does it, and good for her. I’m just saying she must have known full well that the issue of children was bound to come up, and she should just have no-commented her head off every time a cheap attempt was made to contrast her position with Theresa May’s. But she didn’t.

So it’s just as well she won’t be leading us. What on earth, during all those hours of Brexit talks, would she have said about Angela Merkel? And where would that have left us?


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