Rod Liddle is going for the contemptuously sexist asshole prize again. All this fuss about Rennard and his way of pestering women; pish tosh, old bean, what a lot of bother about nothing.
I don’t doubt that it is sometimes unpleasant for women to work in some male-dominated trades and professions, because of the behaviour and attitudes of some of the majority gender. Nor do I doubt that plenty of professions are still rife with sexism and discrimination, politics almost certainly being one of them. But I am not convinced that Rennard’s alleged crimes give us much evidence of this. One of the accusations against Rennard is that he ‘propositioned’ a couple of women, despite apparently being aware that they were in long-standing relationships.
Now, it may slightly turn the stomach to be propositioned by a sweating Europhile lardbucket with breath that could stun a badger at 30 paces, but — hell — a cat can look at a king. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, etc. Sometimes if you ask you also don’t get. All the time, it would seem, in the case of Lord Rennard. But the poor bloke should be allowed to ask, shouldn’t he? Over the past 30 years the workplace has become the venue within which we meet our sexual mates, as Chris Huhne will confirm for you. Obviously these relationships have to start, you know, somehow, don’t they? And asking nicely seems to me a reasonable means of finding out if they are going to start at all.
I have the distinct suspicion that Lord Rennard’s overtures might have been considered less obnoxious if he more closely resembled, say, Orlando Bloom or Joaquin Phoenix than Jabba The Hutt. And a similar suspicion that the anger of the women would have been less deeply felt if they hadn’t discovered he’d tried it on with loads of others and that they weren’t special after all. The hand-on-the-knee business is not especially pleasant, for sure; but is it too antediluvian, too chauvinistic, to suggest that it might easily be brushed off?
Give that man the prize.