There’s more to Fallon’s resignation than meets the eye and this is why
People have accused Michael Fallon’s BBC interview and resignation statement of lacking remorse and smacking of victim blaming.
How exactly do you resign from a cabinet position after improper conduct but not feel the need to apologise, even when pushed to it?
— Guy Milner (@milnermaths) November 1, 2017
The former defence secretary’s resignation means he will plummet to the position of backbench MP. It has emerged that Fallon was forced to quit partly due to ‘lewd comments’ he reportedly made to Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom.
The decision follows a spate of allegations involving senior members of the Conservative government. It also follows Fallon’s apology for repeatedly touching the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer at a dinner 15 years ago.
Jumping to the defence of MPs
In the opening statement of his resignation speech on Wednesday 1 November, Fallon jumped to defend MPs accused of sexual harassment:
In recent days, allegations have been made about MPs’ conduct, including my own. Many of these allegations have been false. But I know that in the past, I may have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honour to represent.
When later asked by the BBC‘s Laura Kuenssberg if he was worried that more allegations might come out, Fallon said:
Well, the culture has changed now. What might have been acceptable 10 or 15 years ago is clearly not acceptable now.
Fallon’s attempt to use such defensive language to blame the victim met with disgust and disbelief.
Michael Fallon: "Behaviour that was acceptable 10 years ago is not acceptable now" NO, IT WAS NEVER ACCEPTABLE! pic.twitter.com/MSsFkg5YDI
— Peter Ross #NHSLove #JC9 (@starsky_ross) November 2, 2017
Michael Fallon has resigned!! He says his behaviour has fallen short – not sure if he means the drinking, the support for Apartheid, the odd sexual penchants, calling a journalist 'slut', the Mike Freer thing or all those children killed by UK bombs… pic.twitter.com/Fyk9J2oZKe
— StrongerStabler (@StrongerStabler) November 1, 2017
Kuenssberg asked if he felt compelled to apologise, but Fallon failed to demonstrate remorse or compassion:
I believe we’ve all got to look back now at the past. There are always things you regret, you would have done differently.
Beginning of the Tory end?
So Michael Fallon has resigned as defence secretary. Is this the start of a Tory government collapse? #michaelfallon #ToriesOut
— Robert Cochrane (@RobertCochran34) November 1, 2017
News of Fallon’s resignation also triggered speculation across social media that this could be the beginning of the end for the Conservative government.
Nightmare on Newsnight
“It’s not about biology, it’s not about sex” – Laura Bates of @EverydaySexism says sexual harassment is not an “inherent biological trait” pic.twitter.com/Tl2n2gut04
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) November 1, 2017
But all hell broke out again when Newsnight took the baton with its panel of 14 men and three women discussing sexual harassment.
A worryingly large number of panelists on #Newsnight openly victim blaming.
Now seems as good a time as ever to post this. pic.twitter.com/4aQVqNigg9
— Anna MacLaughlin (@AnnaGraceMac) November 1, 2017
From questioning the silence of sexually abused women, to debating the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, social media users slammed the BBC for instigating victim-blaming conversations.
#Newsnight debate is an actual joke. This victim blaming is vomit inducing. VOMIT INDUCING. We clearly have a long way to go on this issue
— Jared Garfield (@jaredgarfield1) November 1, 2017
Why were there 17 men discussing sexual assault and only 3 women?! An hour of mansplaining, victim blaming + ignorance #newsnight
— Anastasia French (@Frenchastasia) November 1, 2017
Fallon’s resignation served to justify scandalous activity within the darkest chambers of Westminster. Meanwhile, a veneer of humility glossed over why he stepped down. But with accusations from Andrea Leadsom and ongoing analysis, it’s becoming clearer why he did.
It’s good to #newsnight r covering this. But isn’t this just deflecting away from #Fallon #Fabricant #LiamFox #BorisJohnson #Tory #Tories pic.twitter.com/DlcXzGxjMn
— Retweet this (@Retweetthat17) November 1, 2017
In a letter to the Prime Minister, he vowed to work hard for Sevenoaks constituents. But their response to the debacle will be interesting to observe. And with his position as MP already being questioned, it could be just a matter of time before he resigns from this post too.
– Make your thoughts on the situation known. Contact your MP and be vocal on social media.
– You can also read more Canary articles on Michael Fallon.
Featured image via David Mirzoeff
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