Grant Woodward: Theresa May's shoes are the least of our troubles

It's crazy that in the 21st century we're still more interested in what a woman stands in than what she stands for.

Thursday, 14th July 2016, 7:49 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2016, 8:52 am
New Prime Minister Theresa May makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government. PIC: PA

GOING shopping for children’s birthday presents with my wife can be a hair-raising experience.

This is a woman who has to be bribed out of the kids’ furniture section at Ikea – let alone the toy-laden aisles of a whole store dedicated to the young (and young at heart).

It’s why a “quick look” for presents for our twins’ fifth birthday next week turned into a marathon three-hour slog round Crown Point.

This could never be described as fun, but it was enlivened by her epic rant at a child’s plastic plate.

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Let me explain. Our children (and just about the entire under-six population of Britain by the looks of it) are obsessed by a show called Paw Patrol.

It’s essentially the adventures of a group of puppies who all have specific skillsets which they put to good use saving various people and other animals.

It’s complete nonsense, and sparked a deeply disturbing conversation between my children as to how they would kill each other using said puppies’ specialist skills and equipment.

Let’s just say Rubble’s bulldozer played a significant role.

But anyway, my wife was considering buying our children one of these plates each, but then noticed that the designers had left off the show’s two female pups – Skye and Everest (I can’t believe I even know their names).

This made my wife boil with a righteous anger seldom seen outside the pages of Mumsnet.

I explained that the toy companies probably figure that boys won’t want merchandise that has girl characters on, even if they’re just part of the mix.

But I could see her point. It was the same when people noticed that Rey, the heroine of The Force Awakens, was excluded as a figure in the new Star Wars Monopoly game.

And a similar kind of issue reared its head elsewhere this week with the coverage of Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister.

“Heel, Boys” ran the headline on one national newspaper’s front page, accompanied by a close-up of Mrs May’s distinctive footwear.

Before Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the leadership race, the main focus was on her comments about Mrs May’s inability to have children.

Mrs Leadsom denies stating that being a mother gave her an edge, but the chances of a debate about fatherhood taking place if two men had been vying for the position are slim to non-existent.

Before Mrs May officially became this country’s second female Prime Minister yesterday, I’d seen as much analysis of her wardrobe choices as her policies.

It’s crazy that in the 21st century we’re still more interested in what a woman stands in than what she stands for.

For my money, May seems the lesser of two evils. She at least has a wealth of experience at the sharp end of government, unlike the slightly scatty Mrs Leadsom.

But for all Mrs May’s talk of social justice and her famous calling out of her fellow Tories for becoming “the nasty party”, her record on that front doesn’t exactly stack up the way you would expect.

Here’s a politician who has said she wants to help young people buy their own home, to stand up to big business and help those struggling to make ends meet.

And yet she voted against acting on soaring energy bills, against a ban on estate agents charging their fees to tenants instead of the landlord, against building 100,000 affordable homes, against curbing payday lenders and against banking reforms.

The May/Leadsom leadership race saw the airing of another hoary gender stereotype – the idea that a divided Britain needs a female hand to turn us back into caring, sharing types.

That doesn’t seem Theresa May’s style at all. In fact, maybe it’s she who wants us to spend time obsessing over her footwear. That way we won’t pay too much notice to whether what she does is in step with what she says.

Dallas dazzles off the pitch

EURO 2016 ended with more than a whimper than a bang. Few players justified their huge price tags and rock star posturing with genuine moments of genius.

The sight of the England squad traipsing round in headphones oblivious to the world around them or showing off their blingy mansions as soon as they got home stuck in the throat.

So it was wonderful to read this week about one Euro 2016 performer who has remained resolutely down to earth.

Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas was on honeymoon with wife Juneve when the newly-weds met a homeless man in Las Vegas.

Instead of walking on by or offering up a couple of dollars, the Northern Ireland winger took him to a shop to buy whatever he needed.

And Judith Wilson, from Dallas’s home town of Cookstown in Northern Ireland, said the generosity was typical of the footballer.

He paid her poorly eight-year-old son Alex a visit the day after Northern Ireland’s homecoming celebration and just an hour before he left to go on his honeymoon.

What an absolute credit Stuart is – not just to his family, Northern Ireland or Leeds United, but to football as a whole.

He could certainly teach many of his contemporaries in the game a thing or two about humility and recognising the force for good their profile can allow them to be.

Murray’s rants are a double fault

HATS off to Andy Murray for winning his second Wimbledon title. He’s one of the greatest British tennis players of all time and unlucky to be playing in the Novak Djokovic era, otherwise he’d already have won a heap more.

I cheered him all the way in Saturday’s final – but there was a point in the match when I remembered why I can admire the guy without ever warming to him.

Sitting in his chair after winning a tie break, he exploded with rage. An expletive-ridden rant was aimed at someone in his player’s box.

Apparently the target of his ire was his coach Ivan Lendl for leaving his seat. On other occasions it’s been his brother, Jamie, for switching position, or some other poor wretch who’s offended him in some minor, unknown way.

It’s perhaps just the way he fires himself up for the challenge ahead, but it’s not being prissy to wish someone would tell him to stop doing it.

Murray’s childish tantrums take away some of the gloss of his achievements.