In defence of Priti Patel MP

Craig Hanlon-Smith April 12, 2020

Government briefings concerning Covid-19 have been now been the daily 5pm staple for more than four weeks, most of those in lockdown. Until Easter Saturday we had seen neither hide nor hair of a woman from the government at the central lectern. There had been guest spots from the medical world but the women in cabinet were silent. This had not gone unnoticed, with articles appearing in national newspapers not unreasonably asking: where are the women? And so yesterday we got one. Home secretary Priti Patel.

Patel is a controversial figure and I shall not waste time here examining why. Look it up. She is, however, no more controversial than a host of government representatives, most of them men, who, despite their racist, sexist, classist and minority-phobic nonsense, were resoundingly elected into government in December. Let me be clear, I do not much care for Priti Patel, much in the same way that I have little care for Raab, Hancock, Cummings, Johnson and their latest trumped-up puppet Rishi Sunak.

The response to Patel’s appearance on Saturday night has been vitriolic and smacks once again of misogyny. The comments I have read late on Saturday and early on this Easter Sunday consume me with levels of despair I do not feel faced with imminent sickness from a rampaging virus. Men and women, people from the LGBT community calling upon Patel to be killed, assaulted and at the very least silenced. Violent language I have not seen referencing her male counterparts. Of particular note are the women and gay men laying into the home secretary, the latter on social media platforms posting ‘KILL HER’ and drawing male genitals on pictures of her face. Graffiti accoutrements we consider too base for the male occupants of the cabinet office.

Patel’s sin is that she has been born a woman and now dares to hold high office, as such: who does she think she is? As a woman she is expected to be smarter, sharper, more knowledgeable across a range of complex subjects, sweeter, kinder and clearer than any of the men who have presented to this country during the past month. I did not like what came out of Patel’s mouth on Saturday night but, compared to current de facto prime minister Dominic Raab, she was clear, confident, resolute, determined and in charge at that moment in time. She also strikes me as an individual who is significantly more intelligent than the prime minister and I mean him no ill while he recovers from a disease that could kill us all. Priti Patel clearly does not need to worry about Covid-19 while there are people living in our friendship groups who want her to die because she opened her mouth.

I am not usually in the business of quoting my own articles but I am about to. In the March edition of GScene I wrote an piece on misogyny and its effects upon all of us – please read, it you might learn something. If you are short of time here is an extract for you:

Our collective inability to identify, challenge and tackle misogyny is possibly our greatest social ill and one we all, across whatever gender we wish to align ourselves with fail to address. The majority of our contemporary social phobias can be linked directly to misogyny and our continued enthusiastic tendencies to revel in it.

By all means despise the politics of any particular political agenda and do call them out for untruths, twisted facts or outright lies but treat them all as equals. Patel should not get a kicking, death threat or a penis drawn on her face merely because she doesn’t have one.