Roger Helmer MEP has been chosen by his party Ukip as their candidate for the Newark by-election.
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Meet Ukip's seal-hating, gay-baiting, victim-blaming Newark candidate, Roger Helmer

He doesn't think homophobia exists, blames rape victims, and seems to be sexually confused about Earl Grey tea.

Ukip has announced its candidate for the Newark by-election: the MEP Roger Helmer. Surely Ukip is just trolling us now? Here are a best-of, or worst-of, his most incendiary remarks:

Disliking gay people is like disliking Earl Grey tea

He told the Sun in April this year that Brits should be able to dislike homosexuals, like they don't like certain types of tea:

... [some people find homosexuality] distasteful if not viscerally repugnant... Different people may have different tastes. You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.

Helmer later told the Independent that people may prefer "heterosexuality or homosexuality" and accused the media of "a feeding frenzy against Ukip".

Being gay is "abnormal and undesirable" and not to be "celebrated"

He made these remarks in a 2000 pamphlet, which were picked up by the Sun. He also said homosexuality is "not a lifestyle worthy of valid equal respect".

Equal marriage is like incest

Helmer asked, baffled:

"If two men can be married, why not three men? Or two men and a woman?... Why not a commune? If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings? Are we to authorise incest?"

The distinction between "date" and "stranger" rape

In his own blog in May 2011, Helmer imagined, probably stroking his trademark moustache during his musings, a date scenario to distinguish between 'two types' of rape:

The first is the classic “stranger-rape”, where a masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and the leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies.

The second is “date rape”.  Imagine that a woman voluntarily goes to her boyfriend’s apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naïvely expecting merely a cuddle.  But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says “Stop!”.  The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.

In both cases an offence has been committed, and the perpetrators deserve to be convicted and punished.  But whereas in the first case, I’d again be quite happy to hang the guy, I think that most right-thinking people would expect a much lighter sentence in the second case.  Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable.

My two scenarios also give the lie to one of the popular over-simplifications trotted out by the feminist tendency in these cases: “Rape is always about power and control and domination, never about sex”.  In the first case, that may well be true.  In the second case, it is clearly not true.

Oh, and if you're unsure whether or not he'd have your vote yet, he ploughed on by saying the victim should 'share the blame':

... while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.

The "Great Climate Myth" of global warming

Helmer labelled climate change the "Great Climate Myth", and spent £9,000 on a poster campaign for climate change scepticism. His slogan was the inspiring: "Green climate change policies: Probably unnecessary, Certainly ineffectual, Ruinously expensive."

He responded to critics by saying "I am speaking for the majority of British voters".

Homophobia "describes something which simply does not exist"

Helmer has been busted for many anti-gay remarks in his time as an MEP, once tweeting that psychiatrists should be allowed to try “turn” homosexuals straight: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual.”

On his blog, which is essentially reading material for Ukippers on speed, he wrote this about homophobia:

"... let me point out that the neologism “homophobia” is not so much a word as a political agenda.  In psychiatry, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear.  I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality.  So to the extent that the word has any meaning at all, it describes something which simply does not exist.  “Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history.  It is frightening evidence of the way in which political correctness is threatening our freedom.  It is creating “thought crimes”, where merely to hold a conventional opinion is seen, in itself, to be unacceptable and reprehensible.  I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it."

Uh, no. Nor do we.

Rioters should be "shot on sight"

When he was a Conservative MEP (he defected to Ukip in March 2012), he tweeted an astonishing response to the London riots in August 2011:

"Memo to COBRA: Time to get tough. Bring in the Army. Shoot looters and arsonists on sight."

Then a gentler response...

"Let's try water cannon/plastic rounds first. But if the police lose control completely, tougher measures are called for."

"Dumb" seal cubs deserve to be killed

In 2006, Helmer commented that beating "dumb" seal cubs on the head was a "humane" way of killing them, and he told a 17-year-old animal rights campaigner to "save your concerns for people rather than them." In a bizarre accusation, he also condemned seals as "guilty" of eating too much fish.

He wrote to A-level student Madeleine Harrold:

I think it's mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a Bambi attitude to animals. Your sympathy for dumb animals does you credit but save your concerns for people rather than them.

Badger cull would reduce "exorbitant" cost of shaving brushes

 He'll be running in the Newark by-election on 5 June. And you'll be running away.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Ken Livingstone says publicly what many are saying privately: tomorrow belongs to John McDonnell

The Shadow Chancellor has emerged as a frontrunner should another Labour leadership election happen. 

“It would be John.” Ken Livingstone, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most vocal allies in the media, has said publicly what many are saying privately: if something does happen to Corbyn, or should he choose to step down, place your bets on John McDonnell. Livingstone, speaking to Russia Today, said that if Corbyn were "pushed under a bus", John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, would be the preferred candidate to replace him.

Even among the Labour leader’s allies, speculation is rife as to if the Islington North MP will lead the party into the 2020 election. Corbyn would be 71 in 2020 – the oldest candidate for Prime Minister since Clement Attlee lost the 1955 election aged 72.

While Corbyn is said to be enjoying the role at present, he still resents the intrusion of much of the press and dislikes many of the duties of the party leader. McDonnell, however, has impressed even some critics with his increasingly polished TV performances and has wowed a few sceptical donors. One big donor, who was thinking of pulling their money, confided that a one-on-one chat with the shadow chancellor had left them feeling much happier than a similar chat with Ed Miliband.

The issue of the succession is widely discussed on the left. For many, having waited decades to achieve a position of power, pinning their hopes on the health of one man would be unforgivably foolish. One historically-minded trade union official points out that Hugh Gaitskell, at 56, and John Smith, at 55, were 10 and 11 years younger than Corbyn when they died. In 1994, the right was ready and had two natural successors in the shape of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in place. In 1963, the right was unprepared and lost the leadership to Harold Wilson, from the party's centre. "If something happens, or he just decides to call it a day, [we have to make sure] it will be '94 not '63," they observed.

While McDonnell is just two years younger than Corbyn, his closest ally in politics and a close personal friend, he is seen by some as considerably more vigorous. His increasingly frequent outings on television have seen him emerge as one of the most adept media performers from the Labour left, and he has won internal plaudits for his recent tussles with George Osborne over the tax bill.

The left’s hopes of securing a non-Corbyn candidate on the ballot have been boosted in recent weeks. The parliamentary Labour party’s successful attempt to boot Steve Rotheram off the party’s ruling NEC, while superficially a victory for the party’s Corbynsceptics, revealed that the numbers are still there for a candidate of the left to make the ballot. 30 MPs voted to keep Rotheram in place, with many MPs from the left of the party, including McDonnell, Corbyn, Diane Abbott and John Trickett, abstaining.

The ballot threshold has risen due to a little-noticed rule change, agreed over the summer, to give members of the European Parliament equal rights with members of the Westminster Parliament. However, Labour’s MEPs are more leftwing, on the whole, than the party in Westminster . In addition, party members vote on the order that Labour MEPs appear on the party list, increasing (or decreasing) their chances of being re-elected, making them more likely to be susceptible to an organised campaign to secure a place for a leftwinger on the ballot.

That makes it – in the views of many key players – incredibly likely that the necessary 51 nominations to secure a place on the ballot are well within reach for the left, particularly if by-election selections in Ogmore, where the sitting MP, is standing down to run for the Welsh Assembly, and Sheffield Brightside, where Harry Harpham has died, return candidates from the party’s left.

McDonnell’s rivals on the left of the party are believed to have fallen short for one reason or another. Clive Lewis, who many party activists believe could provide Corbynism without the historical baggage of the man himself, is unlikely to be able to secure the nominations necessary to make the ballot.

Any left candidate’s route to the ballot paper runs through the 2015 intake, who are on the whole more leftwing than their predecessors. But Lewis has alienated many of his potential allies, with his antics in the 2015 intake’s WhatsApp group a sore point for many. “He has brought too much politics into it,” complained one MP who is also on the left of the party. (The group is usually used for blowing off steam and arranging social events.)

Lisa Nandy, who is from the soft left rather than the left of the party, is widely believed to be in the running also, despite her ruling out any leadership ambitions in a recent interview with the New Statesman.However, she would represent a break from the Corbynite approach, albeit a more leftwing one than Dan Jarvis or Hilary Benn.

Local party chairs in no doubt that the shadow chancellor is profiling should another leadership election arise. One constituency chair noted to the New Statesman that: “you could tell who was going for it [last time], because they were desperate to speak [at events]”. Tom Watson, Caroline Flint, Chuka Umunna, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall all visited local parties across the country in preparation for their election bids in 2015.

Now, speaking to local party activists, four names are mentioned more than any other: Dan Jarvis, currently on the backbenches, but in whom the hopes – and the donations – of many who are disillusioned by the current leadership are invested, Gloria De Piero, who is touring the country as part of the party’s voter registration drive, her close ally Jon Ashworth, and John McDonnell.

Another close ally of Corbyn and McDonnell, who worked closely on the leadership election, is in no doubt that the shadow chancellor is gearing up for a run should the need arise.  “You remember when that nice Mr Watson went touring the country? Well, pay attention to John’s movements.”

As for his chances of success, McDonnell may well be even more popular among members than Corbyn himself. He is regularly at or near the top of LabourList's shadow cabinet rankings, and is frequently praised by members. Should he be able to secure the nominations to get on the ballot, an even bigger victory than that secured by Corbyn in September is not out of the question.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog. He usually writes about politics.