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Anorak | Media obsession over Kate Maltby and Damian Green is something Rotherham girls can only dream of

Media obsession over Kate Maltby and Damian Green is something Rotherham girls can only dream of

by | 3rd, December 2017

It’s always big news when a journalist becomes the story. Access is easy.  The newspaper with the hack’s number on speed-dial gets to ride high on the news cycle and be relevant. And all other media can take sides and judge. Kate Malby is the young Conservative activist in the limelight, writing in the Times about how “awkward I felt” when Damian Green, the Tory MP and first secretary of state, allegedly came on to her. He denies doing so. But the story is out there. And it’s open season on Green and Maltby, teh story veering between the invasive and the endemic.

Maltby kicked off her story with context. “After the Weinstein scandal we are asking new questions about the sexual abuse of power: all to the good,” she wrote, linking a powerful Hollywood figure’s alleged rapes and serious sexual assaults to her experience. What did Green do? Was it criminal?

Mr Green is almost exactly 30 years older than me. He has always cropped up in the peripheral circle of my parents’ acquaintances; he generously agreed to be interviewed by my school newspaper when I was the 16-year-old editor and he the shadow education minister.

Oh, god no!

I did not conduct the interview myself, and had no contact again until I became involved in Tory activism in my twenties.

Ah. Phew! The 16-year-old and the man in this 40s is not a story laced with sex and crime. We rejoin the story with Maltby in her twenties…

At that point I began to ask him for advice on internal matters. We met for a daytime coffee in 2014 to discuss a political essay collection I was co-editing. He was helpful and avuncular…

We fast forward to 2015, Maltby and Green are meeting once more:

He steered the conversation to the habitual nature of sexual affairs in parliament. He told a funny story about finding himself in a lift with the Cameron aide Rachel Whetstone and her alleged lover, Samantha Cameron’s stepfather, Lord Astor. He mentioned that his own wife was very understanding. I felt a fleeting hand against my knee – so brief, it was almost deniable. I moved my legs away, and tried to end the drink on friendly terms. I then dropped all contact for a year. I wanted nothing to do with him.

Awkward, right enough.

For a while I wondered if I’d imagined the incident. I had no proof. And was I self-regarding to think myself attractive? Women are trained to doubt our desirability.

Only women? Aren’t men also presented with ideals? They go loopy for a man with his shirt off drinking a Coca Cola or serving a yoghurt, but can only pity the hapless husband who can’t operate soap. And aren’t men now being recast as suspects? An LA Times article told us: “Sexual harassment is neither a Republican problem nor a Democratic one. It’s a man problem.” Like womanhood before liberation, manhood is a restrictive condition.

In May 2016, Maltby was” persuaded by The Times to write a piece about the history of corsets… It ended up being quite light-hearted, and I was talked into posing in a not-very-revealing corset.” The phone rang. It was Green:

“Long time no see. But having admired you in a corset in my favourite tabloid I feel impelled to ask if you are free for a drink anytime?” I ignored the message.

Indeed. She “wanted nothing more to do with him”.

Six weeks later, David Cameron fell and Mr Green was suddenly one of the most important men in Theresa May’s cabinet. As an aspirant political writer, it seemed impossible to avoid him professionally. So I sent him a message. “Many congratulations on joining the cabinet — you and your family must be delighted. I’ll look forward to seeing what you achieve in government.”

Cue Jan Moir, Mrs Michael Gove, the apogee of school gates knowing, who tells Mail readers:

Clearly driven mad with lust by the sight of the 31-year-old in a lace-up bodice and lumpy leggings, Green had only one thing on his mind. The brute! So she ‘actively ignored him’ until this June, when he was suddenly promoted to Deputy PM in Theresa May’s new government. The fact that Green was suddenly hugely important did not escape the single-minded Miss Maltby, who put the trauma of what had happened behind her and began texting him again.

 

maltby green

 

Will anyone stick up for ‘Miss’ lumpy legs? The Mail won’t. It’s Team Green, backing the man allegedly involved in Daily Mail scoops? The Mail’s double-page spread comes with a free hatchet:

One very pushy lady: Kate Maltby’s dad is a banker who dated Ann Widdecombe, and a family friend of the minister she accuses of touching her knee. ANDREW PIERCE profiles a woman determined to make it in politics – whatever the cost

Isn’t being determined a good thing?

Kate was brought up in Geneva, Switzerland, before the family moved back to Britain and into their £5 million home in Holland Park, West London. Kate, a highly- strung teenager, dropped out of Cheltenham Ladies’ College and moved to the £25,000-a-year St Paul’s Girls’ School.

Well-travelled, well-connected and well educated. Maltby can either spend her days lunching or work hard to put her nous to good use. Good on her for having a go, right?

In 2012, Maltby moved into a £1.3 million flat in Notting Hill… She bought the flat, now worth around £2 million, with no mortgage.

Which surely garners the reaction: so what? If this were a story about how anyone seeking a career in media needs to have private means, then we’d get it. We’d expect every Mail’s byline to come with a word on the writer’s schooling, market rate of their home and a family tree linking them to the owner. But it’s a story is about a woman feeling uncomfortable.

While she was in Notting Hill, the ambitious Maltby targeted Samantha Cameron… One member of the now defunct Notting Hill set recalled: ‘She was relentless and persistent in courting Mrs Cameron and others. We all got bombarded with emails and calls from her after she just sort of appeared in our midst. But I’m afraid there was something not quite right. I wasn’t sure we could ever fully trust her.’

And who better to trust than the anonymous source? The same or maybe it’s another anonymous voice tells us: “She might be more careful the next time she’s asked to write a piece trashing a decent man.”

Team Green is in full cry, then? But in the New Statesman, Sarah Ditum says Maltby is “paying the price” for speaking out as a woman. Damian Green’s relations with Maltby are being investigated by Cabinet Office. Green is also being investigated for alleged misuse of his Commons computer, namely to access porn, something he denies. Anna Soubry, a Tory MP, says he should be suspended. A “senior figure” tells the Sunday Times Green should contemplate suicide: “It’s time for the whisky and the revolver.”

Ditum wonders: “How posh does a woman have to be for her account of a man’s behaviour to be dismissed? How ambitious?”

The questions are rhetorical. It’s also clear Ditum is writing less about Maltby than the Mail’s reaction to her. You see. Media loves to talk about media. It’s the easiest news beat there is.

And if accusations of betraying friends, shaming family and publicising herself are too mild for you, don’t worry: Jan Moir is there on the facing page, calling Maltby “poison”, “disingenuous” and “not afraid to use all her charms to get herself noticed”.

But what about Maltby?

When a woman comes forward, she knows her credibility will be undermined, her past picked over and her character demolished. She might, like Labour activist Bex Bailey when she reported a rape, simply be told to hush up.

Rape? Is the heinous crime of rape relevant to Green? Isn’t that, you know, a bit unfair? Isn’t this about an alleged light brush of the knee, and flirtation? And if the media wants to investigate young vulnerable women being abused by older men, why don’t they talk more about attitudes to poor women in Rotherham and elsewhere? No #MeToo hashtags for the poor, ordinary and isolated. You stat to wonder if this about women or class? To rework Ditum’s question: How poor does a woman have to be for her account of a man’s behaviour to be dismissed? And does she have to live in London?

She continues:

When a national paper is willing to go to war for the hand on the knee and the presumptuous text, it’s not because they fear for one man’s career (which, again, was never threatened by Maltby): it’s because these are the things that keep women where we are.

Which is…where? Writing a column in a national newspaper or magazine? Four days after her original story, Maltby wrote in the Times:

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC came forward to confirm that I had confided in her a year ago about Green and was unlikely to have fabricated the story. At least two other women have said the same in public — and there are others who have offered to give similar evidence in private to a forthcoming Cabinet Office inquiry.

So my accusers changed tack. Seeming to accept that I genuinely believe my own claims, “friends of Damian Green” now suggest I may not have been able to tell the difference between the touch of a human hand and the flicker of tablecloth. This is the only story in a very difficult week that has given me reason to crack a hollow smile. Women know the difference between a hand and a tablecloth.

Women do. But do men, who are clueless when it comes to household items and laundry. Discuss.



Posted: 3rd, December 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink