Yorkshire MEP suspended over derogatory remark

Pictured is Godfrey Bloom a UKIP member of the European Parliament at his family home in Wressle, Yorkshire. ''rossparry.co.uk / Glen Minikin
Pictured is Godfrey Bloom a UKIP member of the European Parliament at his family home in Wressle, Yorkshire. ''rossparry.co.uk / Glen Minikin

Yorkshire UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom has had the party whip removed after joking that a group of female activists were ‘sluts’.

Mr Bloom made the comments while addressing a “women in politics” event at UKIP’s annual conference in London.

Challenged afterwards, he said it had been a joke. The remark prompted laughter from some of those present.

But UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he believed disciplinary action should be taken, since the row had overshadowed his earlier conference speech.

Mr Farage said he did not have the power to suspend him without the authority of the party chairman and governing executive but would recommend sanctions against the Yorkshire and Humber MEP who he said had “gone beyond the pale”.

UKIP chairman Steve Crowther later confirmed the whip would be removed from Mr Bloom, suspending him from formal involvement in party business.

The sanction does not affect his position as an MEP.

In a fringe meeting at the party’s annual conference, Mr Bloom made reference to previous comments he had made about women not cleaning behind the fridge.

When the women at the meeting said they had never cleaned behind their fridges, he said: “This place is full of sluts.”

He was appearing on a panel with three female UKIP activists.

Confronted afterwards about his remarks, Mr Bloom said: “It was fun. It was a joke and most people in Britain have a sense of humour.”

He said he was using the word as it was originally intended.

“It means you’re untidy, you leave your kit lying around,” he told BBC’s Newsnight.

One of the women present, Janice Atkinson - who is a prospective candidate for the party in next year’s European elections - said she did not take offence at the remark.

She suggested that people were “out to get” Mr Bloom after a string of recent controversial comments.

Mr Bloom was later filmed hitting Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick over the head with a party leaflet after he asked him why there were no non-white faces on a campaign flyer.

He responded by accusing the journalist of being “racist”.

In his conference speech later, the MEP told activists it was “good to know who your real friends are”.

Mr Bloom – who sits on the European Parliament’s women’s rights and gender equality committee – provoked controversy last month when he talked about British foreign aid going to “bongo-bongo land” in a reference to third world countries.

Asked about the latest furore, Diane James – one of the most senior female figures in the party – said the language was “demeaning” but “did not reflect the views” of most UKIP members.

Despite his friendship with Mr Bloom, Mr Farage indicated that he had lost patience with him and his behaviour was distracting from the party’s electoral success and new policy initiatives.

Explaining the suspension to party members, he said: “It’s all about Godfrey hitting a journalist and using an unpleasant word. It’s gone. And we can’t put up with it.

“We can’t have any one individual however fun or flamboyant or entertaining or amusing they are, we cannot have any one individual destroying UKIP’s national conference and that is what he’s done today. Godfrey has gone beyond the pale and I think we have no option but to remove the whip.”