From Theresa May to Hillary Clinton, women are rising to the top of politics – they’ve been training for it all their lives
Has the moment finally come when the glass ceiling isn’t just shattered but ceases to exist? Angela Merkel, the most powerful leader in Europe, leads the way, with female Prime Ministers in Poland, Norway and Denmark.
Hillary Clinton, favourite to become America’s first female President, is on the point of choosing the respected Senator Elizabeth Warren as her running mate, a history-making double act. Warren, who established the Consumer Protection Bureau, grew up in a working class home where money was short after her father suffered a heart attack. She waited on tables from 13, worked as a teacher and then trained as a lawyer after her first child was born.
An expert in personal finance and bankruptcy is exactly the kind of person I want running government, not another member of the boys’ club. Earlier this week, these two impressive women rounded on Donald Trump, who regularly mocks Warren for claiming she’s part American Native, calling her “Pocohantas” or “Goofy”. Warren retorted: “Want to see Goofy? Look at him in that hat,” referring to Trump’s horrible baseball cap emblazoned with the ludicrous motto ‘Make America Great’.
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The idea that a sexist, racist bigot can make America anything other than a laughing stock is risible. But back in the UK, an equally unimpressive line of male pretenders seek power amid the post-Brexit turmoil.
Nigel Farage has been swanning around Brussels spewing out insults like a used-car salesman, a 1970s Del Boy, the human equivalent of a clapped-out Cortina. The referendum result has made a lot of people, from MPs to punters, suddenly wake up and realise who might be running the show now that David Cameron has bowed out.
Boris Johnson, another public school clown – no doubt realising that his private life would be under extreme scrutiny – has finally come to his senses, ignoring media hype and the public adulation, and decided to bow out. This is a man who has left London with a chronic housing crisis, and what has he given citizens in return? Bikes and cable cars. Top of the Boris agenda was always Boris.
I hate the term “bookies favourite” – we are talking about someone putting themselves up for the most difficult job in the country, not the 4.30 at Newmarket.
But minus Boris, we are left with a pretty lacklustre line-up fighting to lead the Tories. The preposterous Liam Fox as our future Prime Minister? I think not. This man was forced to resign as Defence Secretary in 2011 for showing a woeful lack of judgement by allowing his close personal friend Adam Werritty to attend official meetings with foreign dignitaries and accompany him on official basis with no discernible qualifications. Astonishingly, Fox thinks that he’s somehow fit to run the Government. I beg to differ.
Michael Gove is a clever man with zero people skills, who always seems to be talking to us as if we are truculent school kids not paying attention. As Education Secretary his lack of diplomacy reduced almost the entire teaching profession to mutinous fury, yet at home things must be very different.
This is a man nagged by his wife (weirdly, via email, rather than a chat over the breakfast table) to fight for his place at the top table. It hardly smacks of inner confidence.
Which brings us to Theresa May, and the other powerful women rising to the top of world politics.
These are turbulent times. Who would you want to drive you through a blizzard – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? You’re short of cash and need to budget the family finances? Would you choose Elizabeth Warren or a billionaire with a private jet to come up with money-saving options and balance the books?
If the worst thing critics can say about Theresa May is that she’s austere and dreary, that’s fine with me. She’s got staying power, a steady hand, and exudes calm. I cannot imagine her husband sends advice notes, either.
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An ideal running mate – our equivalent of Mrs Warren – would be Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. Competent, trustworthy, consistent, reliable and unflappable – aren’t those the qualities we need at the helm?
As for Labour, while Jeremy Corbyn dithers and the hard left tries to cling on to power, there’s another exhilarating option, and one that would see me return to the fold – the dream ticket of Angela Eagle and Yvette Cooper. Being married to Ed Balls must breed tolerance, for starters, and Ms Eagle is funny, tough as old boots and gay; a woman who is respected by her fellow MPs.
Meanwhile, in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson are inspirational leaders who have brought politics back to life. Gradually, a pattern is beginning to emerge.
Let women run things. We’ll cut to the chase, excise the peripheral and the extraneous crap. We already multi-task. We are highly skilled at achieving our goals and playing well in a team.
Women have been training all their lives for this moment.