Godfrey Bloom: the only men who like feminists are "chaps who get sand kicked in their face on the beach"

The continued saga of Godfrey Bloom, aged 63 and three quarters.

If you've been keeping up with the saga of UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, you'll know he's someone who is not particularly prone to well-thought-out political interventions. Whether he's making a speech in the European Parliament "drugged up" and having had "a couple of beers", or raising valid questions as to whether or not he is a misogynist (evidence to the contrary: photos of him on a horse and with a women's rugby team), he seems to wing pretty much everything. Despite (or because of?) this, he's still UKIP's second-highest-profile politician, and nothing seems to stick.

Still, he is clearly stung by accusations that his attitude to gender relations belongs in the century before last. He's written a comment piece for Politics.co.uk, in which he lays out, once and for all, his view on the matter. "Let's face it", he writes, "men and women are different".

The piece is 2,000 words long, because he has many opinions on the matter, but the absolute best paragraph is when he gets introspective:

Let us explore for a moment the questions needed to establish the difference between males and females. I am just about as 'alpha' as a male can be: army, rugby, boxing, cricket, commerce etc. I am not a 'new man'. I would not be caught dead at a birth of a baby and I'm happy to punch the first man who tries to steal my beer.

A close second, however, is his opinion of feminism:

Modern feminism was spawned in the bra burning 1970s by rather shrill, bored, middle class women of a certain physical genre. They punched miles above their weight but represented few women…

So who do these women represent? They are supported usually by men who seem to have no link with the usual social and sporting male preserves, the slightly effete politically correct chaps who get sand kicked in their face on the beach. You've guessed it. The middle class 'liberal' political elite.

Poor Ian Dunt, the editor of Politics.co.uk, has had to spend the last two hours reassuring people that Bloom really did write the piece:

 

 

Godfrey Bloom: literally unbelievable.

Godfrey Bloom in 2005. Photograph: Getty Images

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

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Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.