Gender Equality: Only Half The Analysis Is Being Done

Letter to the Independent in response to another whiny feminista article. They really should change the record – repeating the same tired old mantra isn’t going to achieve anything until they look at the whole problem:

They won’t publish it – they never do publish anything that speaks against their policies on this topic.


Once again, the topic of gender equality is discussed with great passion by your female correspondents. Once again, only half the analysis is done. Harriet Walker, for example, expands at great length on how women are not taken seriously because too much attention is paid to their bodies and too little to their abilities. This analysis, as far as it goes, is correct. What she rather disingenuously neglects to analyse is WHO is paying women’s bodies all this unwanted attention.

In my experience, if someone like Cheryl Cole went out in public without make-up, without a new hairdo and in an old tracksuit, she would still be considered very attractive by a very large number of men.

Female correspondents, however, would be instantly commenting on how she’d let herself down, wasn’t trying any more and would be speculating on her health, her relationships and all sorts of other irrelevant guff.

Women do not, in general, dress up, get their hair and nails done and take hours over make-up for men’s sake. They do it to impress and/or intimidate other women. Men don’t notice much of these efforts.

To blame men for all of this is unfair. Men may have originally erected the glass ceiling, but it is maintained and strengthened these days by women against other women and until that is admitted and addressed, the ceiling will remain.

Paul Harper

Oil Workers Stranded in Libya – Why is This My Problem?

Short Letter to the Independent:


Corrupt oil companies whore themselves out to Arab dictators and people whore themselves out to those corrupt oil companies, but when the proverbial hits the fan in places like Libya, it’s up to *us* to go and rescue them? Why?

Why can’t these tax-avoiding individuals or the very wealthy oil companies charter their own aircraft to get themselves out of there, why does it have to be done at the expense of the rest of us?

Talk about having your cake and eating it!

Paul Harper

Which they published, slightly edited:

Feminism is NOT Equality

Letter to The Independent in response to this article by one of their resident feministas:


Once again, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown seems to be confusing feminism and equality. Her example of the discussion about great interviews did not become sexist until the genders of the subjects was brought up. Until then, by her own admission, the discussion was about interviews and only about interviews.

Suddenly, when someone asks why there were no women interviewers being discussed, there seemed to be a collective self-immolation of guilt that nobody had thought of any so far. Why was that wrong? There is no quota requirement. Interviewing, as she later goes on to explain, is not gender-specific. The criterion was simple – talk about good interviews.

Bringing gender into a gender-irrelevant topic IS sexism, and demanding quotas or inclusion based on gender is going to do for gender equality what apartheid did for race equality.

Paul Harper

I Reject Governments Without Mandate and will vote No to AV.

letter to The Independent opposing their support of AV in the forthcoming voting reform referendum:


With the possible exception of its confusion between feminism and equality, The Independent is normally spot-on when it takes a position on issues. Sadly, it is totally wrong in its support for AV.

Despite all the PR huff to the contrary, AV *will* increase the likelihood of coalition governments. Why, you may ask, is this a bad thing? Coalitions are bad because nobody votes for them. They are unelected and have no mandate for their policies. Nobody voted for the current Coalition of the Clueless, and their policies and positions have all been decided after the election behind closed doors by men in suits. This has resulted in an embarrassingly long list of u-turns, reversals and abandoned promises. Thankfully FPTP rarely produces hung parliaments.

Democracy is not improved when a flawed system where 35% of the voters elect a government gets replaced by a system where a government is elected by exactly 0% of the voters. AV is seeking to replace government by minority mandate with government by backroom committee with no mandate at all.

I would rather see a government I disapprove of but which has a 35% mandate than a government I disapprove of which has exactly 0% mandate.

The current FPTP system is flawed, by all means replace it. But replace it with something better, not worse!


Paul Harper

It got published on Monday 21st Feb 2011:

The Alternatives to Alternative Comedians

A friend of mine posted a little clip of comedian Stewart Lee onto Facebook, and it got me thinking. These alternative comedians aren’t wearing very well, are they? Either physically or in terms of how funny their routines are(n’t). They also don’t seem to much like the ease and speed with which the public found alternatives to them, in a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword, circle of life kind of way.

But thinking a little more about it, I decided that we should be grateful to the alternative comedians. Those earnest young things trooping around the stage shouting and “ooh ahh”ing like Frankie Howerd played too fast:

“BlahblahblahThankYouVeryMuchMyName’sBenElton…” <thuds microphone into the stand and marches off meaningfully> – as though anybody cared what his name was having just sat through an inane ten minute monologue that simultaneously sucked all the fun out of comedy and acted as an advert for every politically correct nut job in the country. I hate Margaret Thatcher as much as any member of the public with a functioning brainstem, but I don’t really think it’s good material for comedy. Tragedy,yes, but not comedy.

We should be grateful to those mostly forgotten, misguided ’80s “alternative” youths, because without their hugely unfunny routines there might not be the marvellous nostalgia that we have these days for their predecessors. Morecombe and Wise, Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques, Carry-On Films, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Ken Dodd and all the others who will be fondly remembered and quoted long after the likes of Ben Elton and Stewart Lee have pulled the microphones out of their arses and passed unnoticed into the night.

So thanks, guys. Thanks for being so shit, thus reminding us what funny comedy was like and how much we should value it. And lest we ever forget how bad comedy can be, we thankfully still have Michael McIntyre to remind us…

I shall vote against the change in voting to AV. Here’s why:

Changing the UK general election system to an “Alternative Vote” (AV) system from “First Past the Post” (FPTP) is a bad idea, in my view.

This is for a number of reasons, any one of which is enough to cast doubt on the wisdom of making the change, but which when taken as a whole make it impossible for me to do anything other than vote against the proposal when we get a chance:

1. Nobody gets what they want under AV

AV asks (but thankfully doesn’t require) that voters rank their candidates in order of preference. This is not how people think unless their sole objective when voting is to stop a particular party achieving power. Under the current system, people choose who they want. That’s it, end of story, nice and simple. They either get what they want or they don’t.

Under AV, they spend more time voting for who they don’t want. The outcome of an AV-driven voting system is almost certainly to be more coalition governments. Nobody votes for a coalition, so nobody gets what they want when they vote. At least under FPTP, some people get the result they hoped for.

2. Increased tendency for coalition governments

Much is made by countries like Australia and Germany who have AV systems and who tend to have coalition governments about the fairness of it all. About how they much better reflect the wishes of the voters.

This is absolute rubbish. Coalition governments are all inherently corrupt because from the moment they come into existence they are all concerned more about prolonging their unstable existence than doing what the voters wanted. The current, hopefully brief, UK experiment with coalition government has thrown up so many lies, u-turns, capitulatons and mass-dumpings of fundamental uncompromising principles that it borders on the embarrassing.

A country should be run on a foundation of solid principles, voted on by the people, not a series of cobbled-together back room deals arranged after the voters have gone home.

3. AV systems result in mandate-free government

Because of the increased likelihood of coalition governments and the resultant post-election bartering for power, no coalition government ever has a mandate from any of the voters for what it does. Not one voter in the last UK election voted for the policies being implemented by the current Coalition Of The Clueless. At least under FPTP a minority get exactly what they want and usually that minority is only just short of being a majority.

I would rather live under a government that I disapprove of but which has the mandate from only 40% of voters than live under a government I disapprove of that has a mandate from exactly 0% of voters.

4. Potential further reduction in voter interest

With all the back-room dealing, complete ignoring of voter wishes, dumped principles, corrupt compromises and power-broking that will go on under AV, there can really only be one end result as I see it: a further reduction in an already embarrassingly low voter interest in participation in elections.

Our voter turnouts are already pathetically low, and under this proposed system can only get lower.

5. AV voting systems give disproportionate power to minority parties

When AV systems produce their mandate-free coalitions, huge amounts of influence is given to small minority parties. This is because larger parties need to attract others to achieve critical mass and form a government. The problem with this is that the vast majority of voters have rejected the policies of these minority parties. Giving them more influence that the voters wanted corrupts the entire voting process and makes a mockery of any claim to democracy.

A much better system would be to ignore entirely smaller parties with minuscule support until one larger party achieves a majority. If only we could have a system like that it would be more representative of voter wishes. Oh yeah. We do. It’s our current system.

It would be ironic if people in countries in the Middle East and Africa are uprising and fighting for more democracy while here we let what little we have slip through our fingers.

Multiculturalism: Long on Excuses, Low on Contributions

Letter to the Independent in response to the whiny letters column saying why Cameron is wrong on multiculturalism:


Taking as a whole your correspondents of today (Letters, 8 Feb), there seem to be all manner of excuses why Cameron is misguided in his speech on the failings of multiculturalism, but there don’t seem to be many positive contributions to the debate. Some seem positively Victorian in their attitudes.

As a Labour Party member, it pains me to admit that Cameron has a point, though in his usual ham-fisted way he has made a mess of putting it over. Who does speak for British people like me who at times feel like a foreigner in their own country? To date, only the far-right nutjobs of the EDL and BNP, and that can’t be right.

Our British tolerance is being taken advantage of and smothered. No mainstream party has ever stood up for modern British values of secularism, equality, non-interference in relationships and the like, and it is about time one did. My own party seems too drowned in desperate political correctness to ever do something so radical, much to my annoyance, and nobody takes the Liberals seriously any more.

Apart from our extensive history of invading other countries, the “British tradition of multiculturalism” has only been around for a few decades. Shining a harsh light on it to examine its weaknesses and failings is long overdue.

Paul Harper