Helen Goodman MP. Photo: Channel 5
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Labour MP slammed for "sexist" Tweet about female Tory ministers

Helen Goodman upbraided for declaring Tory women promoted to the government this week "puppets".

Labour politician Helen Goodman has come under fire for a "sexist" attack on the female Tory MPs newly promoted to the Cabinet.

The shadow minister for media gave her backing to a widely derided Daily Mail spread that focused on the clothing and appearance of the women appointed to the government in this week's reshuffle.

Referencing the article about the "battle of the Downing St catwalk", she tweeted:

Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland in County Durham, has since apologised and deleted the Tweet:

Her initial sentiments have provoked outrage in Westminster and on social media, however.

Deputy chair of the Conservative party Sarah Newton has written to Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman this afternoon demanding disciplinary action against Goodman by Labour. She wrote:

This disgraceful and demeaning slur damages not only those Conservative MPs referred to, but all women in politics.

Ms Goodman is a member of your Shadow Ministerial team. It is therefore incumbent upon you either to condemn her remarks, or pass the matter to Ed Miliband to take disciplinary action.

Ms Goodman must make a full and personal apology to all those Conservative MPs that she smeared, and both you and Ed Miliband must make clear that her comment was utterly unacceptable.

Given that you have devoted much of your political career to advancing the cause of women in public life, it will be deeply disappointing if you ignore Ms Goodman’s repulsive remarks.

Conservative minister for women Nicky Morgan said it showed that Labour is "weak" that "it took two hours for her to delete her comments and no proper apology has been made."

Anna Soubry, another Tory MP, added that the comment was "deliberately insulting".

Members of the public have also rebuked Goodman for her words. One man tweeted:

Lucy Fisher writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2013. She tweets @LOS_Fisher.

 

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Rarely has it mattered so little if Manchester United won; rarely has it been so special they did

Team's Europa League victory offers chance for sorely needed celebration of a city's spirit.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Bayern Munich manager, memorably once said that football is “the most important of the least important things”, but he was only partly right. While it is absolutely the case that a bunch of people chasing around a field is insignificant, a bunch of people chasing around a field is not really what football is about.

At a football match can you set aside the strictures that govern real life and freely scream, shout and cuddle strangers. Football tracks life with such unfailing omnipresence, garnishing the mundane with regular doses of drama and suspense; football is amazing, and even when it isn’t there’s always the possibility that it’s about to be.

Football bestows primal paroxysms of intense, transcendent ecstasy, shared both with people who mean everything and people who mean nothing. Football carves out time for people it's important to see and delivers people it becomes important to see. Football is a structure with folklore, mythology, language and symbols; being part of football is being part of something big, special, and eternal. Football is the best thing in the world when things go well, and still the best thing in the world when they don’t. There is nothing remotely like it. Nothing.

Football is about community and identity, friends and family; football is about expression and abandon, laughter and song; football is about love and pride. Football is about all the beauty in the world.

And the world is a beautiful place, even though it doesn’t always seem that way – now especially. But in the horror of terror we’ve seen amazing kindness, uplifting unity and awesome dignity which is the absolute point of everything.

In Stockholm last night, 50,000 or so people gathered for a football match, trying to find a way of celebrating all of these things. Around town before the game the atmosphere was not as boisterous as usual, but in the ground the old conviction gradually returned. The PA played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, an Ajax staple with lyrics not entirely appropriate: there is plenty about which to worry, and for some every little thing is never going to be alright.

But somehow the sentiment felt right and the Mancunian contingent joined in with gusto, following it up with “We’ll never die,” – a song of defiance born from the ashes of the Munich air disaster and generally aired at the end of games, often when defeat is imminent. Last night it was needed from the outset, though this time its final line – “we’ll keep the red flag flying high, coz Man United will never die" – was not about a football team but a city, a spirit, and a way of life. 

Over the course of the night, every burst of song and even the minute's silence chorused with that theme: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”; “Manchester la la la”; “Oh Manchester is wonderful”. Sparse and simple words, layered and complex meanings.

The match itself was a curious affair. Rarely has it mattered so little whether or not United won; rarely has it been so special that they did. Manchester United do not represent or appeal to everyone in Manchester but they epitomise a similar brilliance to Manchester, brilliance which they take to the world. Brilliance like youthfulness, toughness, swagger and zest; brilliance which has been to the fore these last three days, despite it all.

Last night they drew upon their most prosaic aspects, outfighting and outrunning a willing but callow opponent to win the only trophy to have eluded them. They did not make things better, but they did bring happiness and positivity at a time when happiness and positivity needed to be brought; football is not “the most important of the least important things,” it is the least important of the most important things.

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