The Brexit news is grim, and May’s ex-adviser is flirting with antisemitic tropes. But no mere calamity could spoil the Black and White ball
At the Tories’ Black and White ball on Wednesday night, a donor’s £55,000 won them the chance to spend a day with Theresa May. Don’t even make the obvious joke about what the second prize was. The third prize was Ebola. I’m pleased the Tories felt confident enough to auction off the political equivalent of a private dance so soon after the Presidents Club furore, especially given the almost total overlap of the guest lists for the two events. Then again, why wouldn’t they? A series of polls this week found the Tories still pretty much at the same level as Labour.
Given its lack of any other discernible purpose, it’s possible that this government has been specifically designed as an experiment into how radioactively useless an administration can be and still poll equal to Labour. As a piece of electoral performance art, Theresa May’s Conservatives rank alongside Grace Mugabe’s suggestion last year that her husband could contest an election even “as a corpse”.
The Presidents Club scandal showed non-disclosure agreements can silence women. We need a government review
• Frances O’Grady is general secretary of the TUC
What happened at the Presidents Club was young women being used as bait for wealthy and powerful men. Young “hostesses”, told to wear black underwear and high heels, working at a raucous all-male dinner. The perfect environment for sexual harassment – exposed by young female journalists from the Financial Times. While the Presidents Club may seem an extreme example, we know that women face this sort of behaviour every day and night in workplaces across the UK. TUC research found that more than half of female workers have experienced sexual harassment. And Unite, the country’s biggest union, has recently found that nine out of 10 workers in hospitality have experienced harassment.
The women employed as “hostesses” by the Presidents Club were predominantly young. They were all employed through an agency. Many of them probably rely on jobs like this to pay their rent, and worry that if they complain they won’t be offered further work. Worse, the women working at the event were made to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) beforehand. The organisers clearly expected bad behaviour from their all-male guests – but they were more concerned about the event’s reputation than about the wellbeing of their staff.
Lord Mendelsohn effectively sacked from party frontbench by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour peer Jonathan Mendelsohn has been effectively sacked from the party’s frontbench after he attended the men-only Presidents Club dinner, where “hostesses” were allegedly sexually harassed and groped.
A Labour spokesman said on Thursday: “Jeremy Corbyn has this evening asked Lord Mendelsohn to step back from the frontbench as he attended the Presidents Club dinner, and he has agreed to do so.
Here’s why the persistent idea that a woman’s outfit can make her responsible for her own assault has no basis in science
Sterling work by undercover reporters for the Financial Times have caused a storm around the Presidents Club. Reports of their annual gala dinner involving horrific harassment of hostesses, paid (surprisingly little) to cater to the whims of rich powerful men under alarmingly draconian conditions have quickly caused the club to close.
This is just the latest in a long line of scandals regarding men in powerful positions using them to abuse, harass and sexually manipulate women. The potent backlash to the Presidents Club revelations and the ongoing #MeToo movement suggest that we may be undergoing a long-overdue societal shift when it comes to sexual politics and interactions, especially with regard to men exploiting their power over women.