“I actually do enjoy the fact which at my age, I can be totally free with people. I think I’m a little bit in danger of becoming a gay icon!”
Barbara Hosking has come out at the age of 91, as she reflects on a remarkable life from the corridors of power.
As a senior civil servant she worked For 2 prime ministers, Edward Heath along with Harold Wilson, as well as a television executive.
She battled sexism throughout her career, fighting for equal pay along with even to be from the room during some meetings.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Emma Barnett Show she explained why she never told her family about her sexuality.
“My parents wouldn’t have understood along with they would certainly have been shocked.
“They loved me very much, nevertheless my father was very old-fashioned along with conventional. My mother would certainly have probably thought the item was a difficult, unhappy choice for me to make. Actually I’ve been very happy. I’ve had a full life.”
Ms Hosking has been in a relationship for 20 years, along with chose to come out while writing her memoirs: Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant.
“Men had This particular great liberating moment when the law changed along with they were no longer in danger of being imprisoned or, in earlier days, of being killed.
“Women have never had which, nevertheless the item has been extremely difficult because you could be ostracised very easily.”
Ms Hosking moved to London through Cornwall at the age of 21 to pursue a career in journalism.
Instead, she joined the Labour Party press office along with went on to work for the civil service as a press officer to prime ministers Edward Heath along with Harold Wilson.
May a ‘Great weather’ PM
Despite her Labour background – she once considered running as an MP – Ms Hosking has some sympathy for Theresa May’s current predicament.
“She would certainly be a marvellous ‘Great weather’ prime minister that has a big majority, nevertheless she doesn’t develop the equipment to cope with what is usually happening at This particular point.
“the item’s a dreadful position for any prime minister to be in, that has a divided cabinet along with divided MPs behind her.
“the item’s sad because she’s got lots of Great qualities, nevertheless she lacks the killer instinct for doing something. the item may be which she looks around along with feels she can’t.”
She believes potential Conservative leadership rivals are “watching her suffer along with watching her cope because they don’t want to go in at This particular stage”.
As someone who once discovered which her deputy was being paid more than she was, Ms Hosking says she’s dismayed which women are still battling for equal pay.
“I find the item shocking. What’s so difficult about equal pay? the item’s not happening in a lot of places. Don’t tell me which the item’s accidental which in senior jobs from the BBC, the women are always getting less pay. is usually This particular an accident? the item can’t be. along with the item can be solved.”
She also fears which Labour’s failure to elect a female leader is usually a symptom of a misogyny problem which the party “has never lost”.
‘The talk of Brussels’
Despite all This particular, Ms Hosking believes women “have more freedom to choose to be themselves than at any point in history”.
She remembers women being invited to leave the room following a high-level dinner in Brussels.
“I said ‘I’m very sorry I must go back. I’m with my minister, I’m his private secretary’. They said: ‘You can’t do which, the ladies retire so the men can discuss’. I said: ‘He won’t be able to get on without me, I’ve done all the work on This particular!’ They said I would certainly be the talk of Brussels the following day.”
She’s hopeful which the #metoo movement will be a turning point for how women are treated: “the item may change the culture, nevertheless which’s a very difficult thing to do.
“Usually from the past the item’s been something you put up with along with you got on with the item. You slapped them on the hand or gave them a Great push. I suppose you could even knee them if the item came to the item!”
She talks too of her sadness over Brexit, having been with Edward Heath when he signed the Treaty of Rome: “I am a total Remainer. Talk about shooting yourself from the foot. We have done worse than which.
“People wanted change. the item was an easy whipping boy to blame immigration, or to blame Europe, as if we weren’t part of Europe.”
along with Ms Hosking revealed the secret of her longevity – a daily dose of red wine. “I drink claret. Two glasses a day. My doctor knows the item along with says the item’s OK!”
You can hear the full interview with Barbara Hosking on the Emma Barnett Show on BBC 5 live at 12.30 on Wednesday 14 February.