Is Priti Patel's forced resignation yet another sign of the inherent sexism in the British government or is it the ultimate in distraction techniques?
Priti Patel resigned yesterday (Wednesday) bringing the total number of resignations from Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet to two in a week. Ms Patel was called back from a trip to Africa to meet with her boss Mrs May last night and given a final hour ultimatum to resign or face being sacked from her position as International Development Secretary.
This came after a week of revelations about the Tory Cabinet member and staunch Brexit supporter, which involved failing to be candid about her dealings in Israel.
It emerged at the beginning of this week that Ms Patel had secretly had a number of meetings with Israeli leaders including the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whilst on a family holiday back in August, without informing the Foreign Office about her movements.
Ms Patel apologised for her 'over enthusiasm' when confronted by Mrs May and all seemed well until it emerged she had actually covered up several more meetings with Israeli leaders since her return from holiday and had been planning to organise funds to be sent to the Israeli army for humanitarian work in the occupied Golan Heights – a disputed area that the UK does not recognise. Her failure to fully disclose her actions, even when confronted, was her undoing according to government sources. A new Cabinet member will be announced today (Thursday).
The coverage of Ms Patel's misdemeanours has been quite extraordinary and dare I say a little out of proportion. She was treated like the Kim Kardashian of the British government last night. Internet users were privy to live footage of Ms Patel's plane returning to Britain from Africa and the BBC sent a helicopter up to film Ms Patel's car as it journeyed from the airport to Downing Street.
There were paparazzi shots at close range of Ms Patel sitting in the car and informants gave exact timings on Twitter of when Ms Patel entered Number 10 and then exited, six minutes later, by the back gates.
Obviously Ms Patel was underhand in her actions and there has to be something circumspect about the fact she failed to register any of her movements with official sources but don't we the public think that there are far greater sins being committed by other members of Mrs May's government?
Is this simply to do with the white male gaze of the British press who are choosing to focus all their attention on Ms Patel because there is something about watching an intelligent, attractive lady fall from grace or is this a convenient diversion tactic pressed upon Mrs May by her male henchmen to distract from their own transgressions?
I find it hard to view Ms Patel's misdemeanours as anything as serious as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's for instance. I don't know if we are missing something as lay people, but the fact Ms Patel failed to carry out what does appear to be 'enthusiastic' work through the proper channels, pales into insignificance when compared to Mr Johnson potentially causing a British citizen, and mother, to serve double her original sentence in an Iranian prison because he failed to get his facts straight.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family have stressed over and over again that she was on holiday in Iran taking her two-year-old daughter to meet her grandparents before her arrest 19 months ago, and not carrying out espionage as the Iranian government believe.
Up until now Boris Johnson, as Foreign Secretary, has failed to give any recognition to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's wrongful incarceration and then this week saw him wading in and saying he believed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was 'just teaching journalism' out there. A major blunder which could see an extra five years added to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's existing five year sentence, as it adds fuel to the idea she was out there working rather than on holiday.
You would have thought this could not possibly be dismissed as yet another of Boris' blunders. Again and again he has tried to appear funny or clever to the detriment of sensitive international affairs and yet Mrs May appears to have no plans to show him the door.
Personally I deem a transgression which directly affects the life of another human being as far greater than a failure to work through the proper channels and so in the same breath consider the myriad of sexual harassment allegations against members of the Tory government far more serious than Ms Patel's behaviour.
There is something unsettling about the fact a woman has been forced to resign from the Cabinet amidst a time in the Government's history which has revealed the extent of the day-to-day suffering of all women working in Westminster.
Granted, the first minister to be forced to resign was a man – Michael Fallon – but if we are talking about proportionality, the number of men in government, and indeed the Cabinet, far out number the women, so if this is an attempt at some kind of belated gender equality then it is failing to wash with me.