Saturday, September 21, 2013
Godfrey Bloom: Defending the Indefensible
He was at a fringe meeting about 'Women In Politics' at the UKIP conference. In my day that itself would have been a politically correct no-no in UKIP. Anyway, Godfrey Bloom is the man who warned employers about employing women of child bearing age, and said that they should be cleaning behind the fridge. So what political genius invited Godders to a 'Women In Politics' meeting in the first place?
At the meeting a woman seems to have jokingly referred to his remark about not cleaning behind the fridge, cue titters and giggles from the attending girlies. Godders then referred to them, in a jokey way, as sluts. Cue more tittering and giggling from the girlies. Bang, the next sound is the smush of shit hitting fan. A bit vulgar yes, offensive if aimed at offending those present but it wasn't, it was bar room humour. There lies the nub of this particular very UKIP cock up, the contrived bar room culture cultivated by that man of the people, Nigel Farage.
For years Farage has cultivated an image, nothing more than that, of a good humoured 'one of us' who just enjoys a pint and a ciggie and whose love of the good old English pub is only surpassed by his loathing of the European Union. For many years next to him at the bar, ciggie and pint at the ready has been Godfrey Bloom. Drinking with them is the nearest you will get to time travel, I'd estimate when I was occasionally doing that with them a few years back it was like being around in the late 1950s.
Now then, in my opinion what Godfrey Bloom said was the kind of thing you might hear in pubs up and down the country every day of the week. Let's face it, that's the counter political culture that Farage has been very careful to cultivate. You can almost hear Farage shouting " you there, you at the end of the bar, join us at the UKIP bar and we'll lift the smoking ban. We're not your professional politicians, we're just like you". The only problem is that politics isn't a big pub and what you may say at 11-00pm on a Saturday night with your mates at last orders is not appropriate in many other situations, especially politics.
So, in Bloom's defence he was just behaving in a way that is the norm with Farage and others in UKIP, it's part of Farage's political culture that he has imposed on UKIP. Interestingly Bloom wasn't disciplined for his remarks about the fridge, child bearing or bongo bongo land. Indeed in 2004 when I questioned the action that would be taken about his fridge remarks I was told nothing as it had opened up a serious debate on the issue. So what has happened this time?
It seems to me that Farage has finally embraced the reality of the media and politics. He has moved into the age of spin and so, whereas in the past he would have defended Bloom with a remark about him being a colourful character and UKIP not bowing to political correctness, he has done what Cameron, Clegg and Miliband would do, attacked and disciplined him. Well if you don't want your MEPs using the language of the bar room don't encourage it in the first place.
This counter-culture is so deep rooted in UKIP that it is inevitable that soon there will be yet another episode to further undermine their credibility. Indeed, over the years it seems that every time UKIP takes a step forward within weeks they will have shot themselves in the foot and limped three steps backwards. It has often seemed so frequent that many people wonder if there is a dark reason for it continuing.