Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has once again been generating copy for the Fourth Estate, and for once perhaps not in the way that he would have liked. Addressing a debate on the City and the EU yesterday, his answer to one questioner was summed up as “claiming that women who take time off work to have children are ‘worth less’ to City employers than men”.
This did not endear him to many commentators, not least Harriet Harman: “To see a row of men sitting there and one of them saying that women are worth less to their employers than men are because they take time off to look after children I think is absolutely rubbish. There's not a single business or public service in this country which would still have the lights on if women weren't there at work”.
And the questioner, Siân Hawkins, was similarly unmoved: “The response I got when I asked Farage about the gender pay gap in the City was perhaps predictable. I was surprised, however, at the chorus of murmuring agreement and head nodding from fellow audience members ... His claims that there is no longer sexism in the City and that the ‘old boys' club’ has been disbanded are laughable”.
Ms Hawkins noted also that “The seated audience was 90% male, as well as predominantly white and over the age of 40. The panel, of four male speakers and one male chair, was introduced by a male representative from the sponsor”. That the Guardian had not only found adversely on his hero, but also given space to his questioner, was too much for one recent UKIP convert.
Step forward James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, to tell his adoring readers (Damian and Toby Bonkers) that “Nigel Farage says the unsayable: women have maternal impulses and wombs!” followed by “As a former City trader himself, of course, Nigel Farage knows whereof he speaks” before outlining a world in which blokes keep on working while women have kids and so must then look after them.
Then Ms Harman gets the obligatory rubbishing “Wimmin like Harriet Harman use their gender in their way that agitators from various ethnic groups use their race (or in the case of Islamists, their religion): they have long striven to create a climate where, unless you're a paid up member of the appropriate minority, you shouldn't be allowed even to discuss the issue. Hence Harman's silly, emotive comment about the panel on which Farage appeared being ‘all male’”.
Yes, Farage was right and anyone dissenting was wrong, and not only that, the ruckus over the UKIP councillor who suggested recent flooding was down to same-sex marriage was a “non-story”. Del Boy, like his party leader, gives the impression of thinking the world is partly stuck in the 1960s. And he missed the main point.
Farage opened mouth and inserted boot. That can’t be spun otherwise. End of story.