Mr Stone has been pulled up by Nick Clegg for writing degrading comments about MPs, especially women, on Guido Fawkes blog. When looking at the nature of the comments, he deserves to be removed as a prospective MP in Newcastle East. The comments regarding women MPs are specifically interesting, highlighting how politics, thus, our party, is affected by the engrained inequality in society towards women. Most comments discussing the women focus on their appearance, such as disgustingly suggesting that Blears looks as though she has had lots of Botox, to later say that a stroke instead of Botox is what has affected her facial features. Guido and Stone may say it was political banter, but I hardly think that stroke suffers and disability campaigners will find those comments acceptable, nor helpful.
The Telegraph remarks:
“Women MPs were singled out for harsh treatment. Anne McIntosh, the Conservative MP for the Vale of York – against whom Mr Stone stood in 2001 – was attacked four times. She was variously described as “a depressed woman in blue”, ” needing a makeover”, being “in spinster librarian mode again” and looking “like a deckchair today”.”
This further highlights the specific focus on women’s appearance that Stone choose to criticise. This is something that our party should automatically respond to, not just in words but in actions. It simply is not acceptable for a leading PLP in a target seat to be saying these sorts of things, even if it was just ‘political banter’. Further attacks on women MPs included saying that Theresa Villiers and Mrs May lacked dress sense, Sharon Hodgson was described as the “thickest MP in the House”, and Roberta Blackman-Woods was described as a “sour-faced bitch”. How are these comments acceptable by a PLP if we are suppose to promote equality for women and equality in general? They simply do not match the party’s supposed values. Furthermore, these types of comments towards women highlight the engrained problem of discrimination in society, such as objectification and disability discrimination.
Clegg can distance himself from these comments all he wants, but his lack of action highlights how our party are often unable to put their values and rhetoric into action.