Another feminist success story

From the very beginning of her tenure as Home Secretary two years ago I’ve derided Jacqui Smith for her silliness and her extreme, lock-step liberalism, as seen, for example, in her official labeling of Islamic terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity” and her ban of Geert Wilders from entering the UK. Then, last month, she left office because of her outrageous misuse of government funds for personal purposes in the expenses scandal, as discussed here (the entry also includes highlights of VFR’s past coverage of Smith). Finally, now that she’s left office, she admits in an interview that she was entirely unqualified for the post from the start, as she had never run anything before in her life.

What does it say about Gordon Brown, what does it say about contemporary Western political leaders, what does it say about feminism, that a Jacqui Smith was appointed to one the three most important government posts in Britain? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Women, as a general rule, do not belong in top leadership positions. To appoint women to top leadership positions for the sole purpose of having them in such positions is the mark of a civilization that doesn’t take itself seriously and is striving to win the Darwin award.

Jacqui Smith: I’d never run a thing before the Home Office
By Daniel Martin, Daily Mail, 17th July 2009

Jacqui Smith has admitted for the first time that she was not up to the job of Home Secretary.

She said she was thrust into one of the biggest posts in Government without any training and called for MPs to receive help before they become ministers.

She also suggested that any successes she had in her post were down to ‘luck’ rather than skill.

Her comments are sure to be used as ammunition by those who believe that too many of today’s ‘professional politicians’ cannot run a department because they have little experience of management in the outside world.

Miss Smith left the Government in June after her tenure had been tarnished by a series of gaffes.

In an interview with Total Politics magazine, Miss Smith said she had sleepless nights when she received her first junior ministerial job in 1999, when she joined the Education and Employment Department under David Blunkett.

And when newly installed Prime Minister Gordon Brown shocked Westminster by making her the first female Home Secretary, she admitted she felt under-qualified.

She said: ‘I think we should have been better trained. I think there should have been more induction.

‘When I became Home Secretary, I’d never run a major organisation. I hope I did a good job but if I did it was more by luck than by any kind of development of those skills.’

Asked if she was worried she was not up to it, she said: ‘Well, every single time that I was appointed to a ministerial job I thought that. I didn’t sleep for a week in 1999 when I got my ministerial job.’

She added: ‘If I ever describe the process of becoming a minister—moving from one ministerial job to another—to somebody in almost any other job outside, they think it is, frankly, pretty dysfunctional in the way that it works.

‘I think there should be more emphasis given to supporting ministers more generally in terms of developing the skills needed to lead big departments.’

Before she quit, Miss Smith was widely tipped to be demoted anyway following her dismal period in charge of the Home Office, marked by a series of blunders, including saying she would not feel safe walking in Hackney at night.

The former Home Secretary also faced strong criticism over her role in the arrest of Tory MP Damian Green in a leak inquiry, and when it emerged that one in five foreigners cleared to work in security jobs were illegal immigrants.

In March she was humiliated when it emerged she had used Commons expenses allowances to pay for her husband’s porn films and a bathplug worth 88p.

She told Total Politics the way to avoid expenses scandals in the future was to increase MPs’ salaries massively and get rid of the allowances system.

Asked whether she sometimes thought ‘why bother’ during the lowest points of her tenure as Home Secretary, she said: ‘Yes, in the middle of the night, most nights. If your reputation and family life and career were being dragged through the mud then you wouldn’t be a human being if you didn’t lose sleep over it.’

She said sometimes she felt ‘horrible’—especially during the furore over her husband’s porn viewing.

She said she had to go because every time she did an interview, she spent two thirds of it talking about expenses, rather than policy.

Miss Smith’s comments echo those of Estelle Morris, who resigned in 2002 as Education Secretary after admitting she wasn’t good enough for the Cabinet role.

[end of Mail article]

- end of initial entry -

James P., who sent the item, writes:

She knew she was unqualified, but that didn’t stop her taking the job and staying in it until her incompetence was embarrassingly obvious to all and the pressure to leave was intolerable. Notice how she tries to shift the blame onto some unspecified “others” who failed to provide her with “proper training.” When you put unqualified women into high positions, the inevitable result is idiocy. Let this be a warning to anyone who wants to elect Palin.

Jeff W. writes:

Women can succeed in managerial roles where the work is similar to a common female activity. They can succeed at work that is similar to taking care of a house and making it look nice, or where it’s like completing a list of instructions, such as following a recipe or performing a dance routine. They can also succeed at jobs where the work is similar to supervising children at play.

If the job is more competitive, more like armed combat, however, they are not suited for it. Their minds are not geared to the strategic thinking, the unfeeling logic, and the constant need for quick decisions that are required in competitive battles.

There are several women leaders worth mentioning, including Boadicea (Boudica), Queen Elizabeth I, Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher. These women, while not excelling at strategic thinking, brought mother-bear fierceness into their leadership, and that fierceness stiffened the spines of men who surrounded them.

In a recent interview where she was asked about attacks on her children, Sarah Palin invoked mother bears. “They’re my kids. The mama grizzly bear in me comes out, makes me want to rear up on my hind legs and say, ‘Wait a minute.’”

I believe Sarah Palin feels a similar fierce protectiveness for all Americans, and despite her many shortcomings, that emotional impulse is much needed right now. She, of course, needs some intelligent men as advisors, and I believe she recognizes this. In her resignation speech, she used a basketball metaphor which implied that she recognizes herself to be part of a larger team.

Clark Coleman writes:

I see that, more than once, Jacqui Smith concludes that the solution to her incompetence was for some system to be in place to teach naifs such as her how to run a department, to develop their managerial skills, etc. Notice that the solution is not for her to seek managerial education in order to promote her own career. She is not responsible; the system is responsible. It is not the responsibility of Gordon Brown to select from the pool of persons in Britain who already have demonstrated managerial competence; the system is responsible, in typical liberal fashion.

I am reminded of a corporate meeting in the early 1980s in which we employees were brainstorming a “vision statement” with the input of top management. At one point, some woman threw in a phrase about “nurturing our employees.” The CEO, who I would describe as not particularly conservative, immediately commented “Let’s replace the word ‘nurturing.’ That is such a female-dominated word.” A few women grimaced but no one objected and the word was removed.

I thought about that for a while after the meeting, and even looked the word up in the dictionary. The original usage of “nurture” was to breast feed a baby. Afterwards, every time I hear a reference to how our government, or our society, or some corporate entity, is supposed to “nurture” citizens or employees or customers or whomever, I immediately say, “No, it is not the job of [fill in blank here] to breast feed you.” I refuse to use that word for any meaning other than breast-feeding, as my own little rebellion against the complete feminization of our culture.

I guess “the system” did not “nurture” Jacqui Smith enough so that she could perform her job.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 17, 2009 10:19 AM | Send

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