There is a lot of nonsense talked about life in 1950s and 1960s West Belfast. Nostalgia gives us a lot of clichés…”close knit communities”, “people who were the salt of the earth”, “give you the shirts off their backs” and “you could leave your front door open at night”.
It is all …half-true.
Occasionally there was a good old fashioned argument in the street. And I still remember the first time I heard the phrase “ya f@@@ing hoor” shouted across the narrow street. I had to ask my parents what the neighbours were talking about. Like most of the neighbours, my parents never took part in any unseemly activity. “They are only letting themselves down …in front of the Protestants…thats how they expect Catholics to act”.
Yet I remember the day that two women in their 30s …next door neighbpurs…fell out…over children.
I didnt notice the exact words used. But I recall my parents closing the front door and saying that “no woman should say that about another woman”.
It was about one woman having children and the other woman being childless. Like I say, I dont recall the exact words but it must have been pretty vicious. Certainly the women in the street turned against the woman who made the remark.
There is a taboo about the subject. Men…we dont ask questions. There are conversations we dont want to hear. At some point in his life every man will get a strange look or a kick in the shin as a gentle or forceful reminder that he has said the wrong thing.
So the fuss over what Angela Leadsom is alleged to have said (in a newspaper interview) about Tory Leadership rival, Theresa May is interesting. Seemingly Ms Leadsom suggested that as a mother of three children, she is better placed to be Prime Minister than Ms May, who has not been blessed with children.
Women are ourtaged. So are Men. Especially Men who back are Tory MPs who support Ms May.
As always, people talk about context.
As a Man, I cannot express an opinion as I have had too many kicks in the shin over the years.
A few points. Ms Leadsom says she was taken out of context. The Times (newspaper) has provided an audio recording. The journalist is a woman (yes its relevant because I dont think a male journo would go down that road or that a woman politician would have found it easy to raise the subject.
Either way, Ms Leadsom’s supporters say too much is being made of this.
And supporters of Ms May suggest that this adds to the charge sheet against Ms Leadsom.
The rise of Leadsom has been extraordinary. I had never really heard of her except in the context of her appointment as a junior Minister for Energy last year. I am not even sure I am spelling her name right.
She became one of the leaders of the LEAVE Campaign. Her emergence as the LEAVE candidate for Leader is due to good performances in the pre-Referenndum debates and the implosion of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
But there are more serious questions about Leadsom. There are allegations that she exaggerated her CV. She is a late convert to the LEAVE side. A big fan of Fox Hunting and not a fan of Gay Marriage.
In other words, a pretty average backwoods Tory MP who is already over-promoted. Prime Ministerial material? I dont think so.
Yet Theresa May has questions to answer. Even with a REMAIN victory and David Cameron holding on as Prime Minister, it was always likely that the next Tory Leader would be a showdown between Theresa May and George Osborne.
The LEAVE victory took Cameron and Osborne out of the equation.
And May became the REMAIN candidate…with a wider appeal to LEAVERS because she was largely AWOL during the campaign.
So the actual contest to be decided by 150,000 Tory members is between May (backed by 199 MPs) and Leadsom (88 MPs).Ex-Gove supporters (48 MPs) are more likely to support Leadsome.
With 60% of Tory members being LEAVERS, the temptation is to think that they will vote for Leadsome…but her lack of experience, general flakiness and no secret that Labour members fear May much more….could sway people to May.
The clumsy (at best) or vicious (at worst) comments about childlessness could be a very bad mistake.
May is a capable politician who is a REMAINER.
Leadsom is a pretty average MP who is a LEAVER.
Who is better placed to negotiate BREXIT from Europe?
Tories can be pragmatic. It looks like May.
But the fact is that the entire issue of having or not having children should be irrelevant. Thats what the REMAINERS are saying….now.
Yet two weeks ago REMAINERS were getting hysterical about people like me (one wife, two sons, two Daughters-in-Law and three (so far) grandchildren….that I was a disgrace because I voted LEAVE without thinking about the children.
Hypocrisy from REMAINERS?