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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Out Like Flint

Another day, another resignation: actually there was more than one yesterday, but that grabbing the headlines was by Caroline Flint, who would otherwise have been demoted. By her own analysis, she was on the periphery of the cabinet, and had not been attending it regularly. But this only served to fuel the fire in her resignation letter.

Ms Flint had been Europe minister: she was also ambitious. As Pa Broon went through his ultimately limited reshuffle options, she found herself going backwards, and suddenly someone who had started the day voicing her full support for the party leadership had changed tack, accusing Brown of using her as “window dressing”. However, this approach has a problem: Ms Flint has previously presented herself in a way that looks rather like window dressing, and this morning’s Guardian has reprinted a photo from its sister paper, the Observer, which shows the now former minister in a reclining pose.

The photo has also been seized upon by the Daily Mail, a paper that is never backward in putting forward the glamour angle – all in the best possible taste, of course. The Mail has also observed that, last year, Ms Flint “ ... pulled off the impressive feat of stealing the Budget Day headlines from the Chancellor by strolling up Downing Street in a skirt split to the thigh”.

In fairness to Ms Flint, this is a problem for women in politics: if they don’t push forward their feminine side, many in the press sneer and call them “plain” or “frumpy”, and if they do, then, well, see the comments from the Mail. But if Brown was only minded to use women MPs as window dressing, he wouldn’t have even considered giving the Home Office to Jacqui Smith.

No, after all the posed photos and the tetchy letter have been pored over, there is a straightforward conclusion to be drawn: she wanted and expected something that she didn’t get, and threw a strop. That the strop throwing took place amidst all the other problems for Pa Broon made it a little more newsworthy.

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