I do not know if Alastair Thompson is sexist and/or an idiot. The things he said yesterday however definitely were both sexist and idiotic. What I am not so convinced about though are the calls for his resignation. Most calls for him to resign draw from on the argument that he does not represent the views of women. I reckon that is not his job though. As the chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association his job is to represent the views of those employers who choose to belong to his association.
Therefore, the correct course of action for those of us who are appalled by his statements should be to call for those employers to quit the Employers and Manufacturers Association. That, as Mr Thompson understands well, is the law of supply and demand. If they do not want to quit, then I guess Mr Thompson has guessed correctly that there is demand among employers for his bizarre comments.
The EMA has traditionally chosen to represent the views of its members by speaking against the interests of workers. Often it does so when the evidence points in the opposite direction to its argument. The EMA’s reasoning seems to be that workers and employers are in competition with each other and so, by undermining workers’ rights, it can promote employers’ rights.
So, no surprise then, when offered the chance yesterday to speak against the interests of women workers, Mr Thompson grabbed it with both hands. He simply took the most direct (and, admittedly, ridiculous) route to his goal of arguing in favour of keeping women’s pay lower than is fair or equitable. He should not quit for that – he did his job. However, other employers should make it clear that that is no longer a job or a goal that they support. It is time for them to quit (the EMA). Or even better give their public support to the solution.