Telegraph Men: Isn’t that just the Telegraph?

Does the Telegraph's new section A) aim to expand the boundaries of masculinity, or B) feature the same group of blokes whining about the same old rubbish?

The Telegraph has launched a new section exclusively for its male readers, Telegraph Men, with the tag line “Sharp opinion and expert advice for the modern male”. There was a swish launch party with lots of dapper looking lads and lasses at Rook & Raven on Tuesday evening, followed by a website and Twitter launch today.

The Mole cannot help but wonder at the logic behind this new development. The Telegraph is already strongly weighted towards the Y chromosome both in terms of its writers and the issues that it covers - if you'd like to test this out, visit their blogs page and scroll down - today I counted 18 men, not a single woman. Are we seeing the creation of a new platform on which to debate questions of masculinity, looking at the issues that really affect British men? Will there be space for gay and trans writers, or will everything that does not conform to a GQ-slick template of dark blues, suits, sexism and materialism? (And a vehicle, excuse the pun, for advertising expensive cars?)

The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman tweeted this morning:

Clearly she is not prepared to give Telegraph Men the benefit of the doubt. But this Mole keeps an open mind. There is room in the media landscape for writing which takes a contemporary view of parenting, mental health, identity and masculinity – will Telegraph Men be it?


Welcome to Telegraph Men.

I'm a mole, innit.

Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.