JANET STREET-PORTER: Why don"t female MPs care about real women?

Why don't female MPs care about real women

Less Twitter, more action: Female MPs like Louise Mensch should be campaigning for women's rights

Less Twitter, more action: Female MPs like Louise Mensch should be campaigning for women's rights

David Cameron says a third of his ministers should be women by 2015. Another week, another broken promise as Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is replaced by – another dreary bloke.

I wish I could have heard the chat over the breakfast table in the Clegg household when feisty Miriam heard the news. A successful lawyer, she has recently said although she abhors quotas, they are now necessary ‘on a temporary basis’ if women are going to get anywhere in Britain.

As it stands, almost 80 per cent of government ministers are male.
Women are now the majority of the workforce, but half the FTSE 250 companies have none on their boards, and there are no plans to impose quotas.

Our contribution to household finances (in lower and middle-income homes) has tripled over the past 40 years (to 37 per cent of the total), while men’s has dropped by 22 per cent. A quarter of women earn more than their partners, and the number of men staying at home to look after their kids has tripled in the past 15 years.

Contrast these radical changes with what’s happening in Parliament – only one in four MPs is female, and many Labour MPs were elected only as a result of all-female shortlists.

In spite of MPs producing a report two years ago recommending that the Houses of Parliament does more to attract women into politics, like changing the late hours and publishing policies for parental leave, nothing has happened.

Parliament debated it again in January, and made the same vague declarations of intent. It’s still the same grisly boys’ club, shouting, grunting, quaffing Top Totty beer in their taxpayer-funded bars.

I want the smart females who have fought their way into Parliament to campaign for women. Yet they seem to have a bizarre inward-looking agenda, more concerned with getting a tackily named beer banned and monitoring the number of men on the BBC than fighting for better tax breaks and more childcare in the real world outside Westminster.

Last week I took part in a debate organised by the All-Party Women’s Group in Parliament on the subject The Media: a female politician’s worst enemy

Depressingly, another group of female MPs had organised a screening of an American documentary about the appalling misrepresentation of women in the media at exactly the same time.

Ladies, if you can’t co-ordinate your diaries, you won’t get far. The debate took place without a single male MP bothering to turn up, which shows how much they were bothered.

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Lady Gillian Shephard, a former minister, came along and announced that too many modern women are ‘inclined to victimhood’. Well said — there was a huge amount of whingeing about lack of women on the Today programme and not very much talk of working together.

I realise new MPs are expected to toe party lines, but when I suggested that if they want the rowdy male atmosphere in the Commons to change, they should all get up and walk out at Prime Minister’s Questions in front of the TV cameras, they were astounded.

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Simple life: Uber rich Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki, whose husband Sergey Brin co-founded Google, is worth 11.5 bn. Anne says she wears cheap clothes and does her own hair, and lives ‘a normal life’ in a house that’s not ‘that big’.

She got married in the Bahamas on a private island owned by magician David Copperfield.

Anne is a clever woman who founded a ground-breaking genetics testing company in California, but, like so many of the mega-rich, spouts the most amazing drivel about her daily routine.

It’s ‘simple’ she explains — he cooks and she cleans.

There’s also a private jet, which ‘makes life easier, especially with children’.

Simple is such a telling word — when you have money, everything is much less effort.

Measure success, not failure

High School (fees 4,343 a term) in South London, has an impressive
record, but plans to hold a ‘Failure Week’ seem ill-advised.

and parents will talk to pupils about what they’ve learnt from mistakes
in their own lives, and the headmistress wants to see girls take on
challenges outside their academic work — in sport, drama, art and music.

She thinks they will ‘learn’ from the experience of not succeeding.

succeed in modern Britain, women need to learn confidence and positive
thinking, not a way of acquiring even more things they can’t do.

This sounds like a recipe for accepting second-best.

Drama at its best

Steven Mackintosh has a face you wouldn’t look at twice on the bus or train. He portrays ordinary, put-upon men who always look as if they are on the brink of bursting into tears — not my type at all!

Gripping yarn: Steven Mackintosh in Inside Men

Gripping yarn: Steven Mackintosh in Inside Men

In ITV’s The Jury a while back he was brilliant playing a sad chap taken in by an unscrupulous female. Now, he’s compulsive in BBC1’s new drama series Inside Men on Thursdays, playing the conscientious manager of a cash-counting house, with a loving wife and adopted daughter.

When a huge robbery happens, he’s the last person anyone would suspect. This drama is so well plotted I can’t wait for the next episode.

Method eating

Dinner too far: Liam Neeson

Dinner too far: Liam Neeson

In Liam Neeson’s new film The Grey he plays an oil worker fighting off a pack of wolves after a plane crash in Alaska.

Experts have protested, claiming the film portrays the animals as man-eaters, when they are not.

Animal rights groups complained that wolf carcasses were used during filming. Worse, Liam Neeson says he ate wolf stew in order to prepare for the role.

Outrageous! Wolves are in danger of extinction in parts of North America, and are known to shy away from human contact. Is Liam Neeson’s publicist desperate to generate headlines, and how far do actors need to go to get into character anyway

Did Michael Fassbender sleep with hundreds of women before he shot Shame Just thought I’d ask.