Monday 26 September 2016

O'Doherty: Corbyn's quota chaos proves they don't work

Published 20/09/2015 | 02:30

Out of tune: Jeremy Corbyn has upset Labour's women
Out of tune: Jeremy Corbyn has upset Labour's women
Haka: Sign of respect to opponents? Yeah right.

There's a scene in Fr Ted where Dougal is stuck on a plane and stares at a big red button labelled 'Do Not Press'.

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Of course, Dougal pressed the button and the usual chaos ensues. That episode was called 'Flight Into Terror', and the British Labour party membership had their own Dougal moment when they voted Jeremy Corbyn as their new leader. They should have called it flight into error.

At the risk of sounding like one of those priests you used to see giving sermons on a Sunday morning, we all have times when we want to press that red button.

So the Labour membership elected their own equivalent of a trendy vicar to lead the opposition, although People's Commissar would be a better title for this political dinosaur, whose ideas have been thoroughly discredited in every country that has ever tried to implement them.

There has been a flurry of witless support for Corbyn amongst the Irish chattering classes and one of the biggest factors in his appeal in this country was his pandering to the idea of cabinet quotas for women.

Supporters of quotas tend to fall into three different categories. There are men who say they support the idea, because it makes them look good in front of the ladieez; there are women who see an angle for career advancement and are prepared to use every trick and loophole they can to get ahead; then, there are those women who are simply too stupid to be elected in a straight fight. As an example of the latter category, I recently received a communication from one female Irish politician who accused me of 'disgusting misogyny' because she mistook my use of the phrase a 'leg-up' for 'leg-over', proving that she has a dirty, depraved mind and is rather thick.

Corbyn's new cabinet has 16 women, so everybody is happy, right?


To the chagrin of his supporters, none of the big portfolios such as Home, Foreign Affairs and the Exchequer, went to women. But they did get Education and Health because, y'know, chicks are better at the caring, nurturing stuff while the cooler jobs are left to the men.

As both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have already learned to their cost, trying to shoehorn someone into a gig, purely on the basis that they wear a bra, is a rather stupid way to run a country.

Equality doesn't mean fairness, regardless of what supporters of quotas might say. In fact, it's anathema to a mature democracy where one would hope that brains are more important than biology.

As we have seen from the two-decade experiment in affirmative action in America, quotas create a situation where the beneficiaries are never taken seriously, no matter how good they may happen to be, while everybody else simmers in resentment.

It also leads to the kind of rather ingenious tokenism which characterises Corbyn's inner circle.

For example, Gloria del Piero has been granted responsibility for 'Voter Registration and Young People', which sounds a blast, while Kate Green has been handed the shadow ministry for 'Women and Equalities', without anyone seeing the irony of using equality but only one gender in the same sentence.

I doubt many men will complain that there is no special portfolio reserved for them, but that's merely because most blokes have better things to be worried about.

But my favourite appointment is undoubtedly Kerry McCarthy's elevation to the Environment portfolio, which effectively makes her Minister for Farmers. The one potential hiccup in that arrangement is that she also happens to be a militant vegan who has previously called for animal farming to be banned.

That'll end well.

So why did Corbyn insist on such a bonkers cabinet which pleased absolutely nobody?

It's almost as if he knows he is unelectable and so decided to create an imaginary guest list for a party he will never host.

Nice one Jonathan, but why all the social media fuss?

I have never met RTE's Jonathan Clynch. I have never heard anything about him on the media grapevine, so the news that he now wants to be known as Jonathan Rachel Clynch and wear a frock into work provoked nothing more than a shrug.

After all, I'm a firm believer in live and let live and he can call himself Priscilla Queen of the Desert, for all I care.

But the one thing I don't buy is the social media narrative that he is somehow a hero. Or a heroine, I'm not sure what the correct word is, to be honest.

His claim to be 'gender fluid' seems to be good old-fashioned transvestism, and I remember discussing this with Eddie Izzard the first time I interviewed the great man.

A long-time cross-dresser, Izzard was performing in a frock 20 years ago and one morning during the Cat Laughs Festival, I met him for a coffee.

He had decided to dress as a woman that day, and made it clear that if he didn't care what he was wearing, then neither should anybody else.

I was reminded of Izzard's admirably stoic approach to his choice of outfit when the Clynch story broke, if only for the fact that dressing as a woman is so much harder than dressing as a man, which in my case, involves nothing more than a pair of jeans, black T-shirt, a hoody and Converse runners.

I wish Jonathan all the best and we should encourage other RTE stars to embrace their inner bird. But that's only because I can't wait to see the day when Eileen Dunne and Clynch bicker on the Six One because they're both wearing the same outfit.

Although I imagine the RTE bosses might look askance if he starts taking fashion advice from Jean Byrne...

Btw ...

When it comes to sport, England seem to occupy the odd position of being everybody's old enemy.  I remember discussing this with an English hack a few years ago and he blurted: "What did we ever do?" before looking at his feet and mumbling something which sounded a bit like: "Oh, yeah. Um."

Matt Dawson has certainly added some spice to the upcoming match between England and the All Blacks in a few weeks time by vigorously extracting the Michael from the traditional haka.

Turning it into the 'hakarena', it is every bit as hilarious as you would expect if your expectations were really, really low.

The All Blacks, however, have gone nuts about this perceived insult, with one New Zealand politician claiming the haka: "Is a sign of respect to our opponents."

No, it's not.

It's a brilliant piece of theatre and superlative psychological warfare, but is essentially a Polynesian riff on 'you're going to get your f**king heads kicked in'.

But no matter how angry the New Zealand players might be, I doubt Dawson is popular in the English dressing room either.

Do you really want to give the All Blacks even further motivation to beat you?

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