- Has the Culture secretary touched a raw nerve over Shami?
The most striking thing about the Burnham-Davis-Shami Chakrabarti row is that it has opened up what appears to be a massive gender divide. Women seem to be judging the culture secretary’s comments much more severely than men and it appears to have struck a real chord with many of them.
This has become an area of debate into which male politicians and commentators should enter only at their peril. Leaving normal party politics on one side many women find that what was said to be offensive – the male reaction in the main has been to dismiss it and accuse Shami of over-reacting.
This has been seen in the comment threads here on PB where the the libel threat from the Director of Liberty has been criticised by many male contributors but our very few female participants have a taken very different and much more supportive view.
The featured story in today’s Mail seems to underline the point with women MPs of all the main parties lining up, it seems, to condemn Andy Burnham’s ill-judged words.
What is for sure is that this is going to run because Burnham has followed up his original comments with a mealy-mouthed apology that could make matters worse. The general tone that “this wasn’t meant to be offensive but it’s regrettable if that is how it seems” simply won’t suffice.
The line-up of women MPs that the Mail has spoken to should be seen as sufficient warning.
The political impact is that it keeps what I now think is Davis’s ill-judged by-election move in the headlines. I expected this to all fizzle out in the media within a few days. That might have happened if Burnham had been more careful.