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Our female sporting stars have to pose in scanty underwear, protests Claire Perry

Claire Perry has protested that Britain’s female sporting stars have to pose in “scanty underwear shots” to get public recognition.

And the Tory MP for Marlborough has complained that single women with children are “trapped” by a benefits system that makes it impossible for them to return to work.

Appearing for the first time on BBC Question Time – it was the last programme of the current run – she was asked about the controversy over no women being selected for the forthcoming BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The candidates are selected by media sports editors, all of whom happen to be men, now accused of sexual bias.

 “I have two daughters and one of the hardest things is to get teenage girls to go out and exercise and play team sports,” Mrs Perry told the audience in Stoke on Trent. “Little boys seem to have no trouble in getting a game of football but getting girls to go into anything is really, really difficult.”

“But who here knows that we have a world beating women’s cricket team at the moment or that our women’s rugby team is actually world class.  There are amazing women out there.”

“And I think one of the most depressive images is these fantastic women cyclists that we have, who have won gold medals, who will win gold medals at the Olympics next year, have to pose in scanty underwear shops to get any sort of recognition.”

“I think it is really appalling.  I think the BBC should actually start covering some of the fantastic women’s sporting events that we have out there.”

Questioned on whether there was a lack of compassion in the country following the latest results of the British Social Attitudes survey, Mrs Perry pointed out that record sums being given to charity showed that there was no evidence of “compassion fatigue”.

She went on: “What we are seeing is that people are sick to death of a something for nothing culture.  Whether it is bankers at the top or benefit scroungers at the bottom, I think people are fed up with that.”

But one problem was that people were left on benefits for too long and not encouraged to seek work, though jobs were becoming harder and harder to find.

“There is a trap in the system now where if you go on to benefits when you lose your job the system traps you,” she declared.  

“The welfare state has stopped being a trampoline and started being a big mattress that kind of smothers you and keeps you in there forever.”

“If you’re a single mum with kids it is very, very difficult to go out to work.  Right now you lose your childcare benefits very early on in the work process.  It is very difficult to find flexible work.”

“We make it really hard for people to get off benefits.”

The panellists on the TV programme, held the day before David Cameron used the British veto in the Brussels summit Euro talks, was also questioned about whether there should be a referendum.

“I have to say I have always thought a referendum would be a good thing,” said Mrs Perry.  “The AV referendum was a chance for the British people to get involved in quite complicated arguments and understand the facts.”

“And the problem with the whole debate about Europe is that it happens in a fact-free vacuum so much of the time.  The problem with the referendum is What’s the question?”

“The notion of whether or not we should be in or out of the trading block is actually slightly a redundant question at this point.  Lets have facts in front of the British people.  We have been denied for decades to have say.”

“This is why people have become so heated about it because they are so frustrated.  We have never given them the opportunity to actually have a democratic vote on this process.”

Editor’s note:

We have asked Mrs Perry’s views on David Cameron’s veto decision but she has yet to reply.

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