Bishop Auckland MP apologises over "puppets" tweet

Helen Goodman MP

Helen Goodman MP

First published in News
Last updated

A NORTH-East MP apologised last night after branding leading Conservative women MPs “puppets” who are interesting only for their clothes.

Helen Goodman, the Bishop Auckland MP, faced fierce criticism after backing a newspaper’s controversial “catwalk” coverage of the new Cabinet.

The Daily Mail has come under fire for sexism after a double-page feature focused on the hair, clothes, shoes, handbags – and even the legs – of promoted female Cabinet ministers.

But, yesterday, Ms Goodman tweeted: “#Mail's page on Tory women was fair: all are puppets who'll change nothing and their appearance really is most interesting thing about them.”

The comment triggered a major Westminster row, with immediate demands for Labour’s culture spokeswoman to withdraw the “demeaning slur”.

Anna Soubrey, the defence minister, said: “Helen Goodman's comments were deliberately insulting. She should personally apologise to every one of the talented women she has chosen to cheaply slur.

“Ed Miliband needs to make clear that these comments are absolutely unacceptable otherwise once again we will see that he is too weak to stand up to his own shadow ministers.”

And Nicky Morgan, the new Education Secretary, said: “Helen Goodman's comments were disgraceful and there is no place for them in modern politics.”

A letter sent to Mr Miliband demanded that the Labour leader “take disciplinary action” against the Bishop Auckland MP, unless she backed down.

Initially, Ms Goodman attempted to ride out the storm, arguing the comment had been meant as a joke and saying: “I'm very sorry my last tweet offended some people. I intended it as a light-hearted remark.”

And Labour declined to criticise her, telling The Northern Echo: “The Labour Party’s view is that David Cameron’s promises on increasing the representation of women are a sham.

“He said a third of all his ministers would be women - fewer than one in four are. It is David Cameron who has failed.”

However, more than three hours later – as criticism intensified – Ms Goodman tweeted: “I was wrong in what I tweeted about Tory women ministers and I apologise to them unreservedly.”

In the much-ridiculed Mail feature, Elizabeth Truss, the new Environment Secretary, was described as looking “bright and sensible but a little bit too eighties air hostess”.

And the newspaper called work minister Esther McVey a “thigh-flashing vision in grey check by Vivienne Westwood”.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg poked fun at the Mail, posting a photo of himself wearing a suit, shirt and trademark Liberal Democrat yellow tie - and joking that he hoped he did not look “too 80s cabin attendant”.

Comments (6)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:28am Fri 18 Jul 14

mike1952 says...

Definition of puppet
a movable model of a person or animal that is typically moved either by strings controlled from above or by a hand inside it

Enough said
Definition of puppet a movable model of a person or animal that is typically moved either by strings controlled from above or by a hand inside it Enough said mike1952
  • Score: 5

8:45am Fri 18 Jul 14

Copley23 says...

This woman needs to get a grip of herself. First her Ingleton gaffe that she tried to shrug off...and when it got too hot for her, casually blamed on someone else......!!!

You see Ms Goodman, Twitter just doesn't work the same way does it pet...this time you can't PASS THE BUCK...........CAUGH
T.......

Time you retired bonnie lass. There's a lot of folk round here won't be voting for your type anyway. You've been riding the political gravy train over long.
This woman needs to get a grip of herself. First her Ingleton gaffe that she tried to shrug off...and when it got too hot for her, casually blamed on someone else......!!! You see Ms Goodman, Twitter just doesn't work the same way does it pet...this time you can't PASS THE BUCK...........CAUGH T....... Time you retired bonnie lass. There's a lot of folk round here won't be voting for your type anyway. You've been riding the political gravy train over long. Copley23
  • Score: 10

11:23am Fri 18 Jul 14

Count Jim Moriarty says...

Why apologise? She's right. Purely a cosmetic exercise by Cameron.
Why apologise? She's right. Purely a cosmetic exercise by Cameron. Count Jim Moriarty
  • Score: -8

1:47pm Fri 18 Jul 14

lfp says...

This woman is an embarrassment to Bishop Auckland.
This woman is an embarrassment to Bishop Auckland. lfp
  • Score: 15

2:42pm Fri 18 Jul 14

JENKINS 40 says...

Funny I was under the impression that she became an MP on a flawed selection procedure (to get more women MPs) - 3 female candidates (best man could not win as he did not get the chance :-))
Funny I was under the impression that she became an MP on a flawed selection procedure (to get more women MPs) - 3 female candidates (best man could not win as he did not get the chance :-)) JENKINS 40
  • Score: 7

9:25pm Fri 18 Jul 14

NOTODDEN says...

No wonder this country is in a mess and people can't be bothered with politics
No wonder this country is in a mess and people can't be bothered with politics NOTODDEN
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree