Sacking Green would be no victory for women
The papers are reporting that, in the next 24 hours or so, Damian Green’s fate as a minister will be sealed, as we discover the outcome of the inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
Reports suggest that the Green inquiry focuses on claims he watched pornography on his office computer, and that he made a few passes at journalist and Tory activist Kate Maltby, including sending her a suggestive text message.
Of course, nobody really cares about the porn. Yes, a minister looking at porn at work would be in breach of the ministerial code. But the porn was allegedly found in 2008, before Green was a minister. While we should disapprove of a politician looking at porn when they should be working, no criminality was involved.
What’s more, it is widely believed that the porn allegation is being pushed by an ex-policeman with a grudge. Green’s offices were raided under extremely questionable circumstances while the Tories were in opposition in 2008, over claims he was breaking the law by leaking information from a whistleblower.
Rather, the obsession with Green’s alleged wrongdoing is all about pushing the increasingly ridiculous Pestminster scandal – with Green the most high-profile politician accused of lechy behaviour. Indeed, Green’s case has been held up as a test for Theresa May’s commitment to rooting out sexual harassment.
Labour MP Jess Phillips wrote an open letter to May, urging her to respond honestly to the allegations made against Green. ‘We are still in our quest to stop women and girls being harassed, stalked, controlled and abused’, she said. ‘If Damian Green harassed a woman or lied, he must go’, wrote Matthew D’Ancona in the Guardian.
Apparently, if Green is let off the hook it will be a terrible day for women. But the opposite is true. Unless there are more serious allegations we don’t yet know about, all Green has been accused of (other than the porn) is awkwardly coming on to someone. Ending his political career over that would send the message that women cannot handle suggestive texts or being asked out by someone they don’t fancy.
What an insult. May should keep him in his post; in doing so, she would make it clear that women don’t need special protection and are tough enough to navigate political and social life unchaperoned.
Emily Dinsmore is a writer.