Ukip's Godfrey Bloom can't be misogynist, some of his best friends are women

MEP QED.

UKIP's Godfrey Bloom MEP has a spotted record when it comes to gender politics. Shortly after being appointed to sit on the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality in 2004, – a job he took because "I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough" –  Bloom said that "No small businessman with a brain would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age".

Later that year, in his first of many attempts to make up for the comments, he invited a group of female students to Brussels, only to be overheard saying about one of them: "Isn't she the most delicious bimbette? Absolutely thick, but good tits." The letter of complaint that ensued also reported that "Of the businesswoman who he had invited to share the platform at the next day's press conference, Mr Bloom had only four words: 'big tits, very feisty'."

But it's all OK. Bloom can't be a misogynist, because as the Guardian's Leo Hickman points out, he has a page on his website titled "The Misogynist?". Which has lots of pictures of him with women. Like one of him with all his female staff:

And another of him with a women's rugby club:

Some of them are just pictures of women without Godfrey Bloom, though I assume he has some relation to Laure, Emma and Vicki. One of them appears to just be a picture of him on a horse, though I guess it could be a mare? I don't really know about horses:

Also he's been on Women's Hour which makes him at least as not-misogynist as Tony Parsons, a man who claimed his penis would "literally fall off" if his wife earned more than him.

Now that we know some of his best friends are women, I don't know how anyone could ever accuse Godfrey of misogyny ever again.

Update

Late-breaking news here: Bloom also has a "Womens Page" on his site which reports that:

A long term sponsor of Women’s Rugby Football, he is well known for his forthright views in support of business women. His popularity with them is in an inverse ratio to that of the women’s political class who represent no one but themselves.

He is one of the most popular speakers in the women’s group circuit and enjoys hosting them in the European Parliament (or House of Nonsense, as he refers to it)

If I were the "women's political class" I'd just give up because after a zinger like that feminism is basically over.

Mr Bloom has got in touch to give the context of the page:

The point of the website is to rebut accusations of misogyny by the TUC. It was to demonstrate that I have been a supporter of women’s sport for many years, rugby and equestrian in particular, since well before my political days… Your implication that I have just been photographed with a largely random selection of women paints a distorted picture of the whole point.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images/AFP
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Is Yvette Cooper surging?

The bookmakers and Westminster are in a flurry. Is Yvette Cooper going to win after all? I'm not convinced. 

Is Yvette Cooper surging? The bookmakers have cut her odds, making her the second favourite after Jeremy Corbyn, and Westminster – and Labour more generally – is abuzz with chatter that it will be her, not Corbyn, who becomes leader on September 12. Are they right? A couple of thoughts:

I wouldn’t trust the bookmakers’ odds as far as I could throw them

When Jeremy Corbyn first entered the race his odds were at 100 to 1. When he secured the endorsement of Unite, Britain’s trade union, his odds were tied with Liz Kendall, who nobody – not even her closest allies – now believes will win the Labour leadership. When I first tipped the Islington North MP for the top job, his odds were still at 3 to 1.

Remember bookmakers aren’t trying to predict the future, they’re trying to turn a profit. (As are experienced betters – when Cooper’s odds were long, it was good sense to chuck some money on there, just to secure a win-win scenario. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burnham’s odds improve a bit as some people hedge for a surprise win for the shadow health secretary, too.)

I still don’t think that there is a plausible path to victory for Yvette Cooper

There is a lively debate playing out – much of it in on The Staggers – about which one of Cooper or Burnham is best-placed to stop Corbyn. Team Cooper say that their data shows that their candidate is the one to stop Corbyn. Team Burnham, unsurprisingly, say the reverse. But Team Kendall, the mayoral campaigns, and the Corbyn team also believe that it is Burnham, not Cooper, who can stop Corbyn.

They think that the shadow health secretary is a “bad bank”: full of second preferences for Corbyn. One senior Blairite, who loathes Burnham with a passion, told me that “only Andy can stop Corbyn, it’s as simple as that”.

I haven’t seen a complete breakdown of every CLP nomination – but I have seen around 40, and they support that argument. Luke Akehurst, a cheerleader for Cooper, published figures that support the “bad bank” theory as well.   Both YouGov polls show a larger pool of Corbyn second preferences among Burnham’s votes than Cooper’s.

But it doesn’t matter, because Andy Burnham can’t make the final round anyway

The “bad bank” row, while souring relations between Burnhamettes and Cooperinos even further, is interesting but academic.  Either Jeremy Corbyn will win outright or he will face Cooper in the final round. If Liz Kendall is eliminated, her second preferences will go to Cooper by an overwhelming margin.

Yes, large numbers of Kendall-supporting MPs are throwing their weight behind Burnham. But Kendall’s supporters are overwhelmingly giving their second preferences to Cooper regardless. My estimate, from both looking at CLP nominations and speaking to party members, is that around 80 to 90 per cent of Kendall’s second preferences will go to Cooper. Burnham’s gaffes – his “when it’s time” remark about Labour having a woman leader, that he appears to have a clapometer instead of a moral compass – have discredited him in him the eyes of many. While Burnham has shrunk, Cooper has grown. And for others, who can’t distinguish between Burnham and Cooper, they’d prefer to have “a crap woman rather than another crap man” in the words of one.

This holds even for Kendall backers who believe that Burnham is a bad bank. A repeated refrain from her supporters is that they simply couldn’t bring themselves to give Burnham their 2nd preference over Cooper. One senior insider, who has been telling his friends that they have to opt for Burnham over Cooper, told me that “faced with my own paper, I can’t vote for that man”.

Interventions from past leaders fall on deaf ears

A lot has happened to change the Labour party in recent years, but one often neglected aspect is this: the Labour right has lost two elections on the bounce. Yes, Ed Miliband may have rejected most of New Labour’s legacy and approach, but he was still a protégé of Gordon Brown and included figures like Rachel Reeves, Ed Balls and Jim Murphy in his shadow cabinet.  Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham were senior figures during both defeats. And the same MPs who are now warning that Corbyn will doom the Labour Party to defeat were, just months ago, saying that Miliband was destined for Downing Street and only five years ago were saying that Gordon Brown was going to stay there.

Labour members don’t trust the press

A sizeable number of Labour party activists believe that the media is against them and will always have it in for them. They are not listening to articles about Jeremy Corbyn’s past associations or reading analyses of why Labour lost. Those big, gamechanging moments in the last month? Didn’t change anything.

100,000 people didn’t join the Labour party on deadline day to vote against Jeremy Corbyn

On the last day of registration, so many people tried to register to vote in the Labour leadership election that they broke the website. They weren’t doing so on the off-chance that the day after, Yvette Cooper would deliver the speech of her life. Yes, some of those sign-ups were duplicates, and 3,000 of them have been “purged”.  That still leaves an overwhelmingly large number of sign-ups who are going to go for Corbyn.

It doesn’t look as if anyone is turning off Corbyn

Yes, Sky News’ self-selecting poll is not representative of anything other than enthusiasm. But, equally, if Yvette Cooper is really going to beat Jeremy Corbyn, surely, surely, she wouldn’t be in third place behind Liz Kendall according to Sky’s post-debate poll. Surely she wouldn’t have been the winner according to just 6.1 per cent of viewers against Corbyn’s 80.7 per cent. 

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