In June of this year Alison McGovern, Labour's Shadow City Minister, went on the Channel 4 news to discuss budget proposals set out by George Osbourne.
We'd rather not discuss the fact that she wore a plain black top, blazer and a knee-length grey skirt, because it’s not at all important given the subject matter of the news segment.
The reason we have to mention it however, is because she’s now come under fire for supposedly choosing an inappropriate outfit which strategically flaunted her breasts.
In a letter written by the as yet unidentified J. G.Hunter – we don’t know if the writer is male or female – Alison’s choice of outfit is deemed inappropriate, and her ‘prominent cleavage’ accused of distracting male observers from what she was saying.
The letter, sent to Alison via Westminster and dated 10 June 2015, reads:
“I listened to you on the 7-0 p.m, Channel 4 news tonight. However, I couldn’t help wondering why you felt it necessary to demonstrate your cleavage so obviously on T-V. I can only imagine that it was deliberate in order to attract attention to yourself as the Labour spokesperson?
“As a Labour member might I say that your prominent cleavage distracted your male observers from hearing what you were saying. Indeed as an experienced women [sic] politician, I found this strategy – hardly accidental – for someone of your age and experience difficult to comprehend. This is not a complaint however, merely an observation, I’m sure your PR people will have advised you on your attire.”
The MP decided to share the letter on Twitter, during a discussion with others about the open sexism many female politicians are currently facing.
The debate began with a conversation about journalist and biographer Charles Moore’s sexist piece for the Spectator, where he compares the appearances – and as such their suitability for leadership - of Labour MPs Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
In a bid to prove that Moore’s article was just the tip of the iceberg, Alison tweeted a photograph of the letter, adding that she was ‘trying to laugh rather than cry at the same old same old’.
Other politicians have since come to her support, including Labour councillor Jessica Asato who shared her own disturbing letter, plus former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who writes on Twitter:
“Been there, done that, taken the crap – sure you’re treat that with the contempt it deserves and keep up the fab work.”
More still have taken to Twitter to share their views and exasperation following the Charles Moore article, with Liz Kendall herself, Nicola Sturgeon and Anne McGuire being among the most vocal.