Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan today warned that the “misogyny” displayed in Dominic Cummings’ WhatsApp messages risks deterring women from entering politics.
The Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary admitted she was “concerned” by the language used by senior Downing Street staff during the Covid crisis.
Cummings, who was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s No. 10 aide, was confronted this week over his foul-mouthed messages when he appeared before the official inquiry into the pandemic.
It was revealed how, in a WhatsApp group, Cummings branded a senior staff member a ‘c***’ and claimed he would ‘personally handcuff her and escort her out of the building’.
Mrs Donelan told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I think I am concerned about some of the revelations and comments that are coming out here.
“Because my biggest concern is that other women will see and hear that rhetoric and decide that maybe politics isn’t for them.”
Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan has warned that the “misogyny” displayed in Dominic Cummings’ WhatsApp messages risks deterring women from entering politics.
Cummings, a former No 10 senior aide, branded a senior staff member a ‘c***’ and claimed he would ‘personally handcuff her and escort her out of the building’.
He added: ‘I do not condone misogyny in any workplace. I am deeply concerned or angered, if you will, by rhetoric that is not appropriate, especially since we must lead by example.’
Donelan, who was education minister at the height of the pandemic, said she has not personally experienced misogynistic behaviour.
He added that “we should encourage Parliament and the ministerial team to be as diverse as possible” and highlighted that this is what Rishi Sunak has done as Prime Minister.
“What we want to ensure is that the next generation of politicians who come forward equally represent different sectors of society and we do not distance people from politics, because that would be detrimental to democracy,” the minister continued.
“So I’m worried for the countless women who will hear this and read these comments.”
Cummings’ foul-mouthed messages concerned Helen MacNamara, one of Britain’s most senior civil servants during the Covid crisis.
When questioned about the nature of his messages, Cummings told the Covid inquiry this week that he is “certainly not” a misogynist.
He said: ‘I wasn’t a misogynist. He was much ruder to men than he was to Helen.
“I agree that my language is deplorable, but as you yourself can see, I used the same or worse language (for) the prime minister, the secretary of state or other people.”
Giving her own evidence to the inquiry, Ms MacNamara, a former deputy cabinet secretary, described a “toxic culture” in No 10 during the pandemic.
Of Mr Cummings’ WhatsApp messages, he said: “It’s horrible to read, but it surprises me and it doesn’t surprise me, and I don’t know which is worse, actually.”
“I think he was frustrated with me at the time, I absolutely admit that.”
“I would also say that all he did was work in the service of the then prime minister and defend his interests.”
Liz Kendall, shadow work and pensions secretary, told Times Radio she doesn’t know “what planet” Ms Donelan is on after the cabinet minister claimed she had never experienced sexist culture at Westminster.
She said: ‘All women have experienced misogyny and sexism. In fact, I listened to part of your interview with Michelle Donelan. I thought I didn’t know what planet she lives on, but it’s not the same one I’m on.