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Minister for Women and Equalities Against `Sexism`
Date 19/07/2013 13:47  Author webmaster  Hits 2631  Language Global
Should you be sacked for making an un-gallant remark as the BBC's sports commentator John Inverdale did when talking about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, asks UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.

I used to know an old retired wartime Major. His catchphrase was 'don't get me wrong'. It amused me and irritated my Royal Air Force father. It would pain him to know I intend to start this article with it. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not one to 'play the man' or indeed the woman - I prefer to play the ball. Although, I always make an exception if it comes to a bit of honest retaliation. I am but human.

I have met the British culture secretary Maria Miller on many occasions, on the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, and she is a perfectly amiable soul. However, after 10 years in politics I get the distinct impression that if mainstream political parties did not have quota systems many of the people who now govern us would not be in office. I worked in the financial services industry where if promotion did not come on merit, the institution would simply collapse.

Indeed I would argue any organisation following any mantra save meritocracy is doomed to failure. Admittedly, politics and politicians are in such low public esteem we have almost a whole generation - those born in the 1960s - who avoid it. Older people who might have something to offer in the way of experience or expertise would need their head examined to do so. Ok, it is a fair cop, I did. But generally it is an unattractive option.

So the 'ability pool' is shallow and narrow. It is obvious to anyone who looks carefully enough at the pronouncements of today's political scene that there is absolutely no depth of thought. The 10-second sound bite rules the day. To refuse to attend the Open Golf Championship at Muirfield is, in my opinion, so naive as to be risible. It is traditionally a men only club. Although, I gather women may visit and play pretty much whenever they wish.

There are very few men or women-only golf clubs left. They are equally divided but none of this is the point. Here we have an ancient institution following its own rules, drawn up by its own members in the spirit of freedom of association - which is a pillar of our judicial and political system. I have been a lead sponsor of Cambridge University Women's Rugby for 20 years. I am an honorary life member, an appointment of which I am enormously proud.

I cannot however be a member of The Ospreys Club, the University Sportswomen's Society because I am a man. The sporting girls cannot be members of Cambridge University Hawk's Club, perhaps the most prestigious club in the world, because they are girls. I have never met a female sporting Cambridge undergraduate who wanted to change the status quo. I have sat on the Gender and Equality Committee of the European Parliament for 10 years and it is without doubt one of the silliest - and there are some pretty silly committees in Brussels, believe me.

Miller is the minister for women and equalities. One wonders what Mr WS Gilbert would make of this ludicrous title, worse even than the Lord High Executioner - which would seem to be Miller's ultimate goal with the unfortunate John Inverdale's head on the block. Should you be sacked for making an un-gallant remark? Indeed I would have thought that the allegedly faintly absurd minister would not recognise 'un-gallant' - as it is inherently sexist. Will someone hold Miller to account for making unkind remarks about Inverdale, or me for making critical comments about Miller? Where does it all end?

As the country stares into the abyss, with national debt the highest in our history and rising at 10 per cent a year, the National Health Service collapsing before our eyes and the virtual dismantling of the British Army - should her post exist at all? Miller's experience is noteworthy in the field of advertising. I suspect this is more about getting front-page coverage by using her position to shore up a struggling political career. I certainly see no experience of sport in the CV. But then in the interest of scrupulous fairness, you would not find many sportsmen on the front bench of this coalition; it is probably why they are all seemingly so socially dysfunctional.

Needless to say right-on politically correct 'Dave' Cameron and Harriet Harman have weighed in their support. Last I heard Dave your club, White's, was men only. Have you resigned in protest? Funnily enough, it is freedom of association that was the original protection for the trade union movement. But hey, who needs history books when you can have sound bites. In the years to come when today's young members of Muirfield become granddaddies, they will dangle their grandchildren upon their knee and they will say 'tell us about the great Maria Miller episode, Grandpa' and he will say 'who is Maria Miller'.

Godfrey Bloom is UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire


BBC must take action over sexist sports coverage, says Maria Miller (Guardian)
I won't sack the BBC 'sexist': Director general says John Inverdale has learned his lesson over his 'not a looker' jibe (Daily Mail)