Listen to Godfrey Bloom discuss his comments with Jim Naughtie on the Today programme:
Godfrey Bloom, the “colourful” UKIP MEP, is making the news this morning, following the appearance of a video of him referring to ‘Bongo Bongo land’ while talking about international aid. Cue some mostly synthetic rage from metropolitan liberals; some posturing from the UKIP leadership (which has said that Bloom’s remarks are being discussed at the ‘very highest level’ – get that, the very highest level!); and snorts of disdain from anyone who doesn’t take Godfrey Bloom seriously, however nasty he may be.
There I was, tucking into my eggs and bacon and feeling thankful for having survived Thought for the Day, when suddenly Jim Naughtie was interviewing Godfrey Bloom. What a gift for a very minor politician: a prime time radio slot with which to hi-jack the news cycle. UKIP won’t believe their luck, for there will be plenty of people in Britain who: a). agree with Bloom’s argument (such as it is), b). aren’t bothered by his language, c). actually rather like such language and its sentiments.
Bloom appealed to “unrepresented England”; his spiel took in ‘rugby clubs’, ‘cricket clubs’ and, of course, ‘the local pub’. He forgot the WI; but, other than that, it was a very successful charlatan’s outing. Nigel Farage can now mildly censure Bloom for talking about ‘Bongo Bongo land’, and gain some more publicity. And so on…
Here’s the transcript:
Jim Naughtie: The UK Independence Party says that comment by one of its MEPs criticising foreign aid from this country to what he called “bongo bongo land” are being discussed “right at the very highest level of the party”. Well the MEP in question is Godfrey Bloom and the comments made at a party meeting in the west midlands found their way to the website of the Guardian… Mr Bloom joins us now good morning.
Godfrey Bloom: Morning to you.
JN: Where is bongo bongo land do you think?
GB: I don’t know the BBC and the Guardian have got themselves in quite a state about it.
JN: I read about it in the Daily Mail.
GB: Oh did you? I don’t know where Ruritania is either. There is no such place of course. Like the 3rd world. Where is the 3rd world?
JN: Yes but I mean we see what’s interesting here is that you say the money that goes to “bongo bongo land” (to use your own language) goes on sunglasses and Ferraris. Just looking up that the most recent money put out by the department for international development is 50 million to help eradicate a very serious polio outbreak in Sudan and east Africa which could spread a great distance. I take it you’re not suggesting these children who’ve got polio are buying Rayban sunglasses with the money?
GB: When the country have a trillion pounds of debt, we are cutting our hospitals, our police force, and we’re destroying our defence services – what I’m suggesting is that if people who want to give money to worthwhile charities and I’m very glad where the money’s going in that particular instance – but what I would argue is that is for individual citizen to do this and it’s not for the likes of David Cameron to pick our pockets and send money to charities of his choice. If I want to send money to charity, I’ll do it of my own accord, thank you.
JN: You say he’s “picking our pockets”. Of course he was elected.
GB: Yes! So am I!
JN: Yes… But I mean you know the government is elected to take decisions about how the pot is spent. Successive governments of all parties (and the coalition has made a commitment to international aid) believe that it is justified on the principal grounds that 1) it is a human response to various crises in the world which are things should be of concern and their view to everyone and 2) that much of this money is spent in interest which are in our national interest internationally.
GB: There are people in this country who can’t get treatment for cancer. There are people who are waiting in the queue for dialysis machines. All I’m saying is I think you’ll find most of your listeners will agree with me rather than the Guardian that money should stay at home; charity begins at home…
JN: And not in bongo bongo land? Why do you think UKIP are concerned about your language?
GB: Well I don’t know that they are I only heard that this morning.
JN: They’ve issued a statement.
JN: They say: “these comments are being discussed right at the very highest level”. What would you do if UKIP said to you mind your language?
GB: I’d say “right-o, sorry, sorry everybody if I’ve offended anybody in bongo bongo land. I shall write the ambassador at the Court of St. James and apologize to him personally.”
JN: You can’t stop really can you?
GB: Hahahaha. My job is to upset the Guardian and the BBC. I love it! I love it!
JN: You’re not upsetting anybody here. It’s quite entertaining in fact. But seriously Mr Bloom, you understand a lot of people listening will say that we give a great deal of international aid to people who are dying and you stand up and say: “there they are in bongo bongo land feeding off the British taxpayer!” Don’t think that there might be some people somewhere who might that might find that a little offending?
GB: No. I think I’m standing up for ordinary people in the pub, the cricket club, the rugby club: the sort of people who remain completely unrepresented in the political system that we have.
JN: Well… what would you say to colleagues of yours in the party, who might feel rather as they felt last week, when there was a councillor reported to have favoured thieves having their arms cut off? They might feel you’re embarrassing them, and a lot of people might prefer to vote for a party where people didn’t refer to Bongo Bongo Land? What would your response be to them?
GB: We live in a free country. I’m a libertarian. Please don’t vote for me if you don’t agree with me. I wouldn’t expect you to. But if you’re fed up with one billion pounds a month going abroad with no audit trail, when we’re cutting up police and hospitals vote for me. If you don’t believe that’s treason, I use the word advisedly, that’s how I feel!
JN: Just to reiterate the point cos you made it you earlier on the programme, you think most people listening to this programme agree with you?
GB: I think they probably do, yeah.
JN: Godfrey Bloom MEP, thank you very much.