Does the PR fallout over misogyny even matter to voters in the Conservative leadership battle?

For anyone who has concerns about the treatment of women by Tory MPs, last week was a new low.

Does the PR fallout from Conservative misogyny even matter to those voting in the leadership race? asks Emily Rogers
Does the PR fallout from Conservative misogyny even matter to those voting in the leadership race? asks Emily Rogers

On Thursday, Mark Field slammed a female Greenpeace demonstrator up against a wall and forcibly removed her from a private function by the neck after she had the temerity to make her voice heard.

He has been suspended, although arguably only after the public backlash didn’t look like it was going to die away.

Then, in the early hours of Friday, police were called to the flat Boris Johnson shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds, after neighbours reported hearing her shouting "get off me" along with slamming and banging noises, according to The Guardian. *

Mark Field was something of an unknown to the general public until he publicly lost his rag, but Boris Johnson is no stranger to bad PR.

However, despite a string of affairs, his own admittance of trying cocaine, overt bullying of journalists, and questions over illegitimate children occasionally cropping up, he has somehow still managed to climb the ranks, currently standing as the frontrunner in the Tory leadership race.

That said, treating women as second-class citizens doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on your career prospects if you’re a Conservative MP.

Christopher Chope, the Tory MP who infamously objected to making upskirting a criminal offence, and shouted "objection" when a fellow MP tabled a motion to protect victims of female genital mutilation, still has his job.

It wasn’t that long ago that David Cameron said "calm down, dear" to female colleague Angela Eagle in parliament – surely a disciplinary offence in some jobs – and he held the top job until the referendum result came in.

I wasn’t going to mention the not-at-all-staged photos of Boris and Carrie "loved up" in a pub...nor the incredible feat of Boris Johnson’s hair growing a full two inches in just 24 hours – but some opportunities are too good to pass up.

Emily Rogers, director at Rampart

One can therefore surmise that even if your misogyny is publicly exposed, it won’t necessarily damage your prospects of climbing up the career ladder within the Conservative Party.

In fact, for the Conservative press, the blame for Johnson’s alleged conduct on Friday morning lies firmly at his neighbour’s feet.

"WHO ARE REMAIN VOTERS WHO REPORTED BORIS?", demanded the Daily Express the following day – the suggestion being that, if you’re reporting suspected domestic abuse, your Brexit affiliation will dictate how credible you are.

Domestic violence charities were swift in condemning the vilification of Tom Penn and his girlfriend. A statement, signed by 12 leading domestic abuse experts, said it was up to all of us to take action if we are concerned about somebody’s safety.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the newspapers that pushed to discredit the neighbours are run by the same patriarchal outfit that wants to make future reporters of domestic abuse think twice about daring to stand up to a member of the patriarchy.

I wasn’t going to mention the not-at-all-staged photos of Boris and Carrie "loved up" in a pub that appeared in The Daily Mail on Monday, along with assertions from a "source" that they were very much in love, nor the incredible feat of Boris Johnson’s hair growing a full two inches in just 24 hours – but some opportunities are too good to pass up.

At the time of writing, Boris has failed to respond to Sky’s request for him to join Jeremy Hunt in the leadership debate, resulting in them canning it until further notice.

Could it be the original Teflon man is finally feeling the heat?

Regardless, we will have to wait to see if Johnson is selected to conclude whether his immunity from the effects of negative publicity has finally worn off.

By the way, as an aside, if anyone ever hears a woman screaming "get off me" through a wall, please do feel free to call the police.

* Editor's note: Police attended after being called by concerned neighbours but said there were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action

Emily Rogers is director at Rampart

Thumbnail image: Boris Johnson takes questions at Birmingham's hustings event on Saturday, chaired by Iain Dale (©OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in