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.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.