Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, is now the Secretary of State for Defence, a position she arrived at in circumstances where lying is apparently A Very Bad Thing. I was thus a little perturbed to read the view from The Guardian that ‘Mordaunt has avoided any major gaffes since joining the cabinet’. On a day of assessing the importance of truth & lies, I would say to The Guardian: well, that’s just not true. Her Mumsnet webchat just 7 weeks ago to celebrate International Women’s Day was an unmitigated disaster, whereby Mordaunt exposed herself as being hopelessly unable to define what a woman is, incapable of understanding children’s safeguarding issues, and flippant enough to dig herself an even deeper hole over the Turkey veto ‘lies’.
Let’s start with the country and nation of Turkey, that she has foolishly traduced, and about whose origins I doubt she has any meaningful knowledge. Turkey remains a beautiful landscape, a historic jewel, a fascinating secular republic. It is also a country whose geographical location will always dictate that it holds - whether she likes it or not - a key strategic and political position in the region that straddles west and east. Any senior politician who doesn’t know that, who purports not to know that, and who doesn’t ‘get’ the human rights issues there, is an idiot. In Mordaunt’s incapable hands, the very name ‘Turkey’ however becomes the stuff of the worst kind of dog whistle politics. She’s even been accused of ‘lying’ about it - and to the best of my knowledge she has never challenged these very serious allegations that she misled and ‘lied’ to the British public. She had a chance to speak up for human rights. She threw it away to appease a bunch of old frauds by falsely claiming that the UK had no veto to stop Turkey joining the EU.
And she didn’t leave it there. Mordaunt then doubled down on the ‘lie’ in March 2019, on a webchat with Mumsnet, by which time she was a full member of the Cabinet. She obviously wasn’t expecting to be caught out on that particular forum, wildly underestimating the many very intelligent women who use Mumsnet’s political and academic boards and who could, frankly, wipe the floor with Mordaunt.
I wrote three separate but related pieces about it at the time for a mainly Mumsnet audience, and I think it’s worth pointing at them again today. They bring into question not just her veracity, but also her judgement - I personally don’t think she comes out of it very well on either count - and thet also raise the question of whether whether she’s fit to retain the role of Minister for Women and Equalities.
LINKS TO THE ARTICLES ARE BELOW