By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter
This morning there is still an official Lib Dem denial that Nick Clegg was aware of the allegations concering Lord Rennard's sexual harassment of female party activists. However, reading the abundance of revelations in this morning's papers about the scandal the denial stretches credibility to breaking point.
There is a long saga of hypocrisy on the Left when it comes to women's rights. There was Jean-Paul Sartre's treatment of Simone de Beauvoir. There was the way American feminists on the Left excused Bill Clinton's behaviour. The scandals involving fringe left-wing parties in our country such as the Socialist Workers Party and the Workers Revolutionary Party are well documented.
However, there is a broader hypocrisy which all politicians need to address.
In The Spectator (£) this week Ross Clark reflects on how politicians fail to follow the rules they impose on business. David Cameron "lectured a business audience in India" on the need to have 50% of company directors as women while "just four of Cameron’s 22-strong Cabinet are women" while "as for the educational background of Cabinet ministers, God help any university which showed such a bias towards public school types."
By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter
On Wednesday, Tim Montgomerie reported the 1922 Committee's difficult meeting, in which pro-leadership backbenchers clashed with those some might characterise as too ready to attack the leadership. Clearly this infighting is causing some problems, and can't make backbench life easy. One complaint, usually made by modernising MPs, is that the very fact we know some of the details of the heated meeting is evidence of the 1922 being an ineffective and anti-leadership force. Many MPs feel the 1922 should be a place to talk privately, and find it disappointing that details of notable meetings invariably find their way into the press.
However, on the subject of division in general, one senior backbencher has taken a different angle. John Redwood blogged earlier today:
"I feel one of the old myths reappearing in the political debate. Some are out and about saying that the Conservative party has to be more united to stay elected. They clearly remember no political history. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair were both very successful Prime Ministers when it came to winning elections. Both won three in a row with large majorities. Both led divided parties, with very visible splits."
He does add one important caveat:
"None of this is to say that divisions and mega personality rows at the top are a good thing, but it is a reminder that unity is not the main thing that electors look for. They look for a strong economy, for their own rising living standards, and for other policy changes that go in a direction they like."
"The Conservatives still have something of a Blair complex. Gordon Brown is fairly easy to despise, as opinion polls indicate. But even now the Conservatives live in awe of Blair, knowing that he — like Thatcher — was never defeated at the ballot box. There is a near-obsession with persuading a Blairite — whether it be James Purnell or Andrew Adonis — to defect. The leadership does not think the party will be safe until it has absorbed Blairism into its DNA. To understand this, it is important to realise that many of those working in Cameron and Osborne’s office actually voted for Blair in general elections.
"This explains the energy behind the Tory push to scupper Blair. It is a mark of admiration, not contempt. If the EU president, who will have no democratic mandate, were to be an unremarkable Belgian then the EU would struggle to assert itself on the world stage — and be held in low regard by the defiantly Eurosceptic British public. But Blair, an incurable thespian with a hunger for air miles, would transform the role by sheer force of personality."
> Over on CentreRight Melanchthon urges a vote for Blair.
11.45am: PoliticsHome quotes William Hague saying the Tories do NOT want Blair as EU head honcho:
"Mr Hague said that reports that David Cameron had signalled his support for Tony Blair to become President of the European Union was "absolute nonsense". "That story I can tell you is absolute nonsense. We are not favour of a President of the European Union at all. Of course we don't agree that position should come into existence," he said. "We haven't spent ten years opposing Tony Blair as Prime Minister of Britain to agree to him becoming President of the European Union.""
The Times reports a "senior Tory" and the view that the Conservatives have "nothing to gain in being seen to try to block Blair” becoming the EU's first President. The report continues:
The Times suggests that Blair has a 50-50 chance of becoming President of the EU but Nicolas Sarkozy has apparently cooled on the idea.