Alex Salmond is quite late to the Party on all-male Muirfield

It’s another glorious weekend of sport, if you’re into that sort of thing. In Paris, the Tour de France comes to its climax on the Champs Elysees, unusually at twilight rather than mid afternoon. You wait 99 races for a British rider to win the Tour de France and it very much looks as if two are going to come along in succession. And then there’s the Open, from the beautiful East Lothian Muirfield course.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has very famously refused to go to Muirfield because it’s all male. Credit where it’s due. He can’t go back on this now, even though he’s a bit late to this particular party.

Now, I don’t mind people turning up late, when everyone’s drunk and all that’s left to eat is a few tired lettuce leaves and a bowl of quinoa and aubergine salad. It’s a bit like Stonewall changing its mind on equal marriageas Charlotte Henry reminded us the other day. I do welcome people turning up for the last stint towards something but let’s always keep in mind that there are many who have been on a much longer journey.

Anyway, I am sure that Salmond’s change of heart is all to do with equality and nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that women still aren’t particularly impressed with the idea of Scottish independence.

He wasn’t the first to make the point about Muirfield, tough. A full two months before, several MSPs, including our own Alison McInnes, had done so potently in the Express.

Alison said:

This is not only about golf – it’s about women’s place in society. Golf clubs are still very powerful informal networks and excluding women from joining excludes them from some important circles of influence. Muirfield calls itself The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers but I can see nothing honourable in their continued exclusion of women.

The question has to be that if the members of these all-male clubs are content to continue to discriminate like this, where else in their professional lives does this prejudice spill over into?

The R&A should show some leadership on this. Three words epitomise the game of golf – honesty, integrity and courtesy; it’s about time that these sentiments were carried from the courses into the clubhouses.

If even Augusta can manage to get there it’s time the home of golf put an end to this hypocrisy.

Going back to the Tour de France, by the way, why is that only open to men? A new petition started by American cyclist Kathryn Bertine says its time for a women’s race to be incorporated into the event. Unsurprisingly, senior men in the cycling world has already come out against this.  Even Formula One is taking baby steps to have more women, though. We have one Team Principal, Monisha Kaltenborn of Sauber and one Deputy, Claire Williams of Williams and Williams invited Suzie Wolff to take part in the recent Young Drivers’ Test.

And a final word about Alex Salmond. I’m not sure I quite get the difference between an all-male golf club and his membership of an all-male Burns Club.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • David Rogers 21st Jul '13 - 11:57am

    Don’t really understand all these Scottish references, but the general point about ‘honesty, integrity, and courtesy’ for all is well-made and fully supported. One young man who is there should be admired – and ‘watched’ for the future: Jimmy Mullen, playing as an amateur, who is the protégé of Devon golf captain Adam Bridgewater.

  • Rather than sending petitions to random men asking them to organise things for women (the petition of course is for a separate race with a women’s winner, not for women to race together with the men), why don’t women restart the Tour de France Feminin which existed up to 2009. Or is there something about feminism I don’t understand?

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