Whatever the origin or purpose of the vile, defamatory claims aimed at Angela Rayner, whether simply poisonous hate or repulsive distraction, it is hard to believe that these remarks emerged from a vacuum (Angela Rayner hits out at ‘sexism and misogyny’ in politics, 25 April). It is highly unlikely that Tory MPs, however rabid in their ignoble enthusiasms, would risk so much damage if they were not already accustomed to experiencing a favourable, if marginal, reception for their views.
The confidently asserted whispers reported by the Mail on Sunday may have been horrendously misjudged but, as contemptible as they are, it is far more likely that they were miscalculated in their deployment, rather than wholly at odds with what is now an increasingly ugly strain in the Tory party.
Thus, however much Boris Johnson and his acolytes may “deplore the misogyny” directed at Rayner, it is a monster that has risen from the noxious swamp that they are responsible for creating.
Aside from the misogyny, the notorious article in the Mail on Sunday criticising Angela Rayner also has a clear message for those of us not educated in the ways of Oxbridge debating conventions: stay in your place and leave government to the men from the right background who know best.
The MoS article quoted a Conservative MP saying: “She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks. She has admitted as much when enjoying drinks with us on the [Commons] terrace.”
As if insulting Rayner and people who didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge is not enough for the MoS, the article also insults Boris Johnson himself. The sources evidently believe that Johnson is so craven, the sight of a woman sitting down, wearing clothes, is likely to break his chain of thought.
Presumably, the writer and his sources believe generally that the problem of boorish and sexist behaviour by men is in fact the fault of women, and its solution therefore lies with women’s behaviour – it simply beggars belief. Heaven forbid that talented and capable women like Rayner should be valued for their contribution to the workplace.
The hateful nature of this article reveals a great deal about the Conservatives in Westminster under this prime minister, their pals in the rightwing press and of their relationship with a public that they hold in contempt.
Isabel Hardman (So few can afford to stand for parliament, it’s no wonder we get the wrong MPs, 24 April) mentions Chris Bryant’s warning, saying that “the reputation of parliament itself is being tarnished by the behaviour of some of its occupants”. How apt, on the very day we hear that anonymous Tory MPs are getting hot under the collar about the supposedly provocative leg-crossing of Angela Rayner. They need to be named and shamed.
Pickering, North Yorkshire
It would be instructive to know what skills Boris Johnson’s Oxford Union debating training provides. I can see bluster, buffoonery, banality – are there any more?