UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom
UKIP party woes as Bloom tells sour joke, hits journalist with a brochure
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It’s party conference season in the UK which means the faithful members of each ideological club gather to hear speeches, attend breakout sessions and spend a lot of time at the bar as the leadership outline the direction that each political party will be taking. It’s been an uneventful week in Britain, that was until Friday.
UKIP, Britain’s real right, had a great idea; requiring new immigrants to provide their own health insurance for the first five years. Too many immigrants arrive and contribute only minimally through a payroll tax in the first years, yet receive full services from the National Health Service from Day One.
But the innovation of the week was overshadowed by UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom. The aforementioned Euro MP made his infamous ‘bongo bongo’ comment earlier this year as a reference to sending money to the third world. That put the media target on his back and the provocateurs masquerading as journalists have been provoking him ever since.
Bloom was challenged by reporters about a comment made at a fringe event in London designed to promote the advancement of women in politics. After two female UKIP members joked they did not clean behind the fridge, (a reference to Bloom once saying that women were better at taking care of the home while men were better at backing up the car), Bloom said “This place is full of sluts.” The comment was later put in context when Bloom said “I made a joke and said oh well you’re all sluts and everybody laughed including all the women.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage though said he was “pretty hacked off” and shortly afterwards the party leadership ‘removed the whip’ from Bloom meaning at least temporarily he will not be considered a party member for functional purposes.
Sky News challenged Farage as to whether this meant UKIP was anti-women to which the party leader responded they were not and pointed out that Bloom himself had personally sponsored a ladies university Rugby team for the last twenty years. He added that “Godfrey has this sense of humour that is Territorial Army circa 1965 and that it just doesn’t work in the modern world.”
Following the alleged joke, Bloom was confronted outside by the press who were already in the know. Sky’s Darren McCaffrey persisted that the term was offensive after which Bloom said “was there a single woman in there who didn’t laugh at the joke you sad little man”.
Following this the very disliked Channel 4 reporter Michael Crick held up a UKIP conference brochure and said what do you make of this “with no black faces on it.” Bloom responded with “what a racist comment is that, how dare you that’s an appalling thing to say, you’re picking people out for the colour of their skin, you disgust me, get out of my way.”
With that Bloom pushed his way through the reporters and headed off. But Crick was not to be deterred, and realizing that Bloom was now hot under the collar the cameras and microphones pursued. Catching up, Crick pursued his line of questioning which resulted in Bloom hitting him over the head with the brochure.
A number of things are clear as a result of this incident. One is that Godfrey Bloom, who Nigel Farage pointed out is clever and works very hard, nevertheless does not always conduct himself in the best ways and there are some in the media with the long knives out for him, waiting for the mistake that will topple not just Bloom but UKIP as a whole.
So onto UKIP because most in the media just don’t like them. In part they are not well understood and that’s because they are not very political. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries made the following tweet this week. “The real non Westminster People I am with have asked “who is Damian McBride” & “who cares” It would appear that only we in Westminster do.” (McBride was a left-wing political operative who just published a book called ‘Power Trip’)
The point is that news media people think politically! They are consumed in the bubble of politics and generally make the mistake of thinking that everyone else is as intrigued with the details as they are. UKIP, like Tea Party groups in America, is not full of conventional political thinkers. Britain swings back and forth between Labour and Conservative governments but most things are largely unaltered, there are only minor ebbs and flows. UKIP represents real change in how things work and that threatens many in the media who make a career reporting the tidal charts of the status quo.
Nigel Farage has a difficult job balancing when to drop the hammer on someone like Bloom. Whereas his old style humour may now cause offence, he is nevertheless truthful. To remove the teeth of every member who errs is to remove the unique quality the party has, that it is made up of imperfect people who are tired of political business as usual.
Times political editor Tim Montgomerie took to Facebook to ask “Why is Godfrey Bloom still on UKIP’s candidate list? Is Nigel Farage in charge of his party or not?” Most of Montgomerie’s followers (as the founder of the Conservative Home Blog) are Conservative Partiers. So comments such as these below reveal that Bloom’s candidness is very much in demand.
“I wasn’t a Bloom fan until I saw him smack Crick with a brochure, he’s now likely to be a hero”
“He loves telling lefty journos off. And thrashing them apparently. Although the slut term might be troublesome”
“I like him ... they (UKIP) may have some guts and we can get our country back”
The strength of this young party so far has been its willingness not just to move the political football but to stop the game altogether and start again. UKIP will need to keep up those original ideas that are representative of the changes Britain needs. But they also need those willing to challenge the failed political system to come forward and be encouraged to speak. Failure to do that will ultimately relegate UKIP to the history books. Godfrey Bloom needs guidance, not a muzzle.