The Mask Slips (Again): UKIP Conference

October 4, 2013 3:56 pm

Just as UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, thought it was safe to come out into the political party conference season to set out his rightwing populist stall, his party’s very own backwoodsman Godfrey Bloom MEP went and did it again.

This time, as UKIP’s 2013 Conference was already underway, it seemed there was nobody capable of babysitting Bloom as he attended a fringe meeting on (ahem) ‘Women in Politics’. A female member of the audience made reference to one of his quotes – ‘I just don’t think women clean behind the fridge enough’ – to which Bloom replied: ‘So all you women are sluts?’

Bloom is a man with form. Already castigated in the media, and by his party leaders, about his racist remarks about cutting overseas aid to ‘bongo-bongo land’, it’s a trail that leads back to other observations he has made about women. In 2004, after being appointed to the European Parliament’s ‘Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality’, he told an interviewer that he thought ‘no self-respecting small businessman would employ a lady of child-bearing age.’

As MEP  representing Yorkshire, he once said he represented Yorkshire women who ‘always have dinner on the table when you get home.’

Ouch. Bad timing for Nigel and UKIP, now the acknowledged fourth party of British politics. If the polls are accurate, they rank higher than the LibDems and are probably the third party. UKIP grew out of, mainly, a disgruntled rump of rightwing Tories who are anti-immigrant and anti-EU. They have managed to gain publicity and support since the the Tory, Labour and LibDem parties appear to have virtually indistinguishable solutions to the crisis-ridden capitalist system. Their only way out of the banking meltdown that burst upon us in 2008 is to impose cuts, job losses, and more privatisation while blaming immigration. The capitalist media has acted as handmaiden to these views. The political class is split down the middle, party by party, around whether to leave or remain in the European Union.

UKIP has picked up the mantle as a party united in its views, as opposed to the other parties. They are a party whose main policy is anti-immigrant, anti-EU. With all the constant drip-drip in the media, they have managed to find a significant response. They pandered to the lowest common denominator, to those who prefer to ‘blame foreigners’ or those who are heartily sick of mainstream politicians seen as detached from ordinary people and want to give them a kicking at local, European and general elections.

Farage and Co. were seen by some, and portrayed themselves, as anti-establishment and attempted to provide a vehicle for protest votes. Recent electoral successes, where they have gained more than two hundred local councillors, plus coming second in a number of by-elections, they are now perceived as a serious threat to the LibDems. They are making inroads in some Labour areas and are chipping away at the Tory vote (15% of Tory voters have switched to UKIP).

Such are the jitters that emanate from Downing Street, David Cameron himself felt compelled to issue the sideswipe that typical UKIP members were ‘loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists’. Bloom’s latest behaviour must now re-confirm his view.

Let’s not forget, Bloom  is not the only offender. UKIP’s treasurer, Eton College-educated Stuart Wheeler, opined that ‘it is not necessary to have a lot of women on a company’s board of directors.’ He justified this by suggesting it was because women were not good at chess, poker or bridge!

Farage knows that, to build on the recent gains UKIP has made, they have to get serious. They, as a party, have to present a professional, organised front if they are to be seen as a serious party of government. Small wonder then that, on hearing of Godrey Bloom’s mouthing off (again) especially on the day of their conference, the UKIP leader was absolutely furious. He was forced to denounce ‘his friend’ and his remarks as ‘unacceptable’ and that they ‘had no choice but to withdraw the party whip from him’.

This, of course, poses another problem for Farage’s portrayal of UKIP as the ‘party of free-thinkers’, the ‘mavericks’ who are not beholden to the Westminster bubble and the slick, oily machines of the main parties who he likes to portray as ‘all image and no substance’. By disavowing ‘his friend’ Bloom, he is carefully ushering the ‘maverick’ party into the same stage-managing, spin doctor world the other parties already occupy. News of Bloom slapping the BBC’s reporter, Michael Crick, (below) with the UKIP conference programme reverberated into the conference hall. Indoors, an unusually camera shy Farage avoided questions as an assistant busily applied his make-up for him. Welcome to your nightmare, Nigel!

Clobber: Mr Bloom hit Mr Crick over the head with the UKIP brochure as they argued about the fact there were no white faces on the front cover

Old Nigel usually prefers to be seen with a fag and a pint in his hand, now he’s little different than the other media savvy party leaders.

However, all this media frenzy aside – which has certainly taken the shine off their conference, ‘killed it off’, according to Farage – UKIP still remains something of a potential force to be reckoned with electorally.

UKIP has shouldered aside the dismal racist BNP who are in disarray and has stolen some of its thunder. Many refer to UKIP as the ‘BNP in suits’ but they are not yet a spent force.

Watching some of the conference speakers, one that perhaps stood out was Farage’s deputy leader, Liverpool born Paul Nuttall. He hails from Bootle, one of Liverpool’s most deprived areas, if not one of the country’s. He is in place to appeal to and to very much woo the working class vote as UKIP claims to cross all class boundaries. It’s true that Labour is disillusioning many of its core voters, particularly since the Miliband leadership promises to continue with Tory cuts. Miliband recent attacks on the trade unions would not have endeared him to many either.

However, people should carefully heed some of Nuttall’s words. He may well speak the lingo, he may well not have the cutglass accent, but, socially, Nuttall is very much an arch-rightwinger. He’s in favour of beefing up the armed services; favours the death penalty; is a climate change sceptic; demands the shrinking of the university sector; opposes abortion; and calls for apprenticeships in the trades yet fails to mention the industrial jobs we will need to develop to accommodate such skills. That’s before we turn to his anti-immigrant stance.

A technical glitch gave Ukip leader Nigel Farage a Hitler-style moustache during an appearance on BBC Breakfast

UKIP wants to appeal to all social classes. Nigel Farage, alongside his deputy, with his liking for a photo opportunity with aforementioned obligatory pint in hand, wants to be all things to everyone as he drags us back to the 1950s.

That’s what Adolf Hitler tried to do with his ‘National Socialist Party’ in Germany. The ‘national’ was to appeal to the middle class’s ‘nationalism’ while the ‘socialism’ tag wanted to draw away those workers who had turned to communism. Yet, like Farage, had little in the way of policies on offer.

I’m not suggesting that Farage is a ‘Hitler’, despite the technological onscreen glitch that gave him that tooth-brush moustache (below). And let’s not forget, just because his old school teacher remembers the young Nigel singing Hitler Youth songs as a boy doesn’t mean he’s about to invade Russia. But I’ll still maintain that, in my opinion, life in this country under a UKIP government, or even a coalition with UKIP as a member, would be decidedly bleak.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, folks!



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