A couple of days ago I published a piece about the forthcoming Conservative Party Conference (“Makes a Change from the Mayor of Blackpool’s Drinks Reception”, 22 September). The piece told the story of how a third-party PR agency in Birmingham, charged with organising the delegate packs for this year’s conference, had included a money off voucher for a local lap-dancing club.
One or two of you have commented on how my posting seemed to be blase; in favour of ‘male titillation’ when I should have been decrying the degradation of women in this way.
So let me just be really clear. I was absolutely staggered to see that the Conservative Party, my party, in whose name so many of us work tirelessly, who have worked so hard to overcome the old stereotypes of landed gentry, of rich business types, of an inclusive broad church for anybody and everybody who believes in freedom, liberty and opportunity, should have committed such a faux-pas. It left me speechless.
Of course, I’m sure that whoever was charged with putting together delegate packs will claim that “it was outsourced, it wasn’t our fault, we employed an outside agency and they did it Guv”. But the truth is, if any person or organisation puts something out in your name, you should have checked it thoroughly before it went out.
That such clubs are degrading to women is not in question. They are as degrading to women as a male stripper at a hen night or a Chippendale show is to men. I really didn’t think I needed to be that explicit in my condemnation.
It’s all about respect. For ourselves, and for each other. Sadly, until we can find the key to unlock that behaviour deficiency, such events will prosper. Maybe that’s what we need to be working on.