BOLTON’S first UKIP councillor has refused to apologise for posting derogatory comments about women on his Facebook page — despite criticism from his own party and female politicians.
Little Lever councillor Paul Richardson posted the comment after the government’s cabinet reshuffle last week, which saw five female MPs made senior ministers.
He wrote: “Cameron promotes more women to the Cabinet. Well, they can take it in turns to make the tea — only joking!”
The comments have sparked a backlash from the town’s leading female politicians, including Bolton MPs Julie Hilling and Yasmin Qureshi, but Cllr Richardson has refused to remove the post.
Cllr Richardson said he would “defend the right to have a bit of light-hearted banter” and stressed he was fully supportive of the female appointments to the cabinet.
But UKIP’s Bolton chairman, Joan Johnson, said she was offended by Cllr Richardson’s remarks and was “very sad” about the post.
She added: “At the end of the day it’s his idea of joke, and frankly he should know better to put it on Facebook for the world to see. It’s very unwise.
“He should apologise. I also take it personally as a woman, as I do believe in equal rights and equality.
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“I’ve never had a problem at all with being a woman in UKIP. It does put the party in Bolton in a bad light and makes it look misogynistic, but it isn’t and it won’t be. It’s not that sort of party.”
Labour’s Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, called the post “offensive”.
She said: “It’s one of those things that as a woman, if you don’t laugh you have no sense of humour.
“But some things people think are jokes just really aren’t funny.
“When people make these comments, instead of looking at the merits of the people being appointed, I think it just shows we are nowhere close to treating men and women the same in politics.”
MP for Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi added she thought Cllr Richardson’s comments reflected the views of many UKIP members.
She said: “Does he expect his fellow UKIP councillor to make tea for him when he’s in the town hall?
“It’s a shame that a councillor in my constituency has such an old-fashioned attitude towards women, but we should not be surprised as many UKIP members have been pretty derogatory about women over the years.
“It just shows how deep in its heart UKIP is a regressive party, full of misogynists and people with warped views.”
Cllr Richardson said it was “tough” if Ms Johnson found his comments offensive.
He added he believed the ministers were promoted on merit and would do “a brilliant job”.
The 68-year-old said: “I’m not sexist, I’m not racist — I don’t have an ‘ism’ in my body. I’m not that judgemental.
“People ought to get a sense of humour.
“The comment was tongue-in-cheek, and I posted it expecting my friends to give that kind of reaction.
“Am I suppose to completely change my attitude towards life when I become a councillor? I know when to be serious and when not to be serious. It was a joke. Some people found it funny, other people didn’t.
“In hindsight it was unwise, but I refuse to let go of my sense of humour and a joke in the context of comments by national commentators in the printed media and in the broadcast media suggested Cameron had only appointed the women as window dressing.
“If people were offended they don’t have a sense of humour, and I feel sorry for them. I’m not going to say my remark was offensive because it wasn’t intended as offensive and the vast majority of people won’t see it as offensive.”
Cllr Richardson was voted on to the council in May, with UKIP colleague Diane Parkinson, who is the official leader of the UKIP group in the council chamber.
The pair were the first UKIP councillors to be elected in Greater Manchester, taking seats from Labour and the Conservatives respectively.