Debate the relative merits of the two speeches from Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall all you like, but the headline from today’s Ukip conference won’t give voters any impression that the party has grown up at all. Godfrey Bloom (who I’ve had my own run-in with before) decided to turn up to a fringe on women in politics and start talking about ‘sluts’. He admitted as much later (audio clip below).
There is an air of inevitability about all of this. The party had organised a fringe on women in politics, and one on its campaign against female genital mutilation for a reason: to show that it is not a misogynist party. Unfortunately, the Godfrey Bloom Self-Aggrandisement Party has rather different policies.
Bloom shouted at the event that ‘this place is full of sluts’ because two female Ukippers had joked that they don’t clean behind their fridges. He then told journalists outside that he had been joking, and then decided to add emphasis to his point by thwacking Michael Crick with a conference programme.
What can the party do about Bloom? If Ukip wants to appear grown-up, it will probably have to give him the boot and let him set up his own Godfrey Bloom Self-Aggrandisement party. Farage and Diane James have both made noises to that effect this afternoon. Farage said that ‘I am increasingly annoyed with Godfrey Bloom’, while James said that ‘it’s not the language that is either endorsed or used by the members of Ukip’ and that Bloom should be ‘considering his position’. Fortunately for everyone, he’s due on stage at the conference in the next 15 minutes.
Update from Fraser Nelson: Election campaigns and party conferences are usually defined by what goes wrong, not what is scheduled (remember David Miliband’s banana?) Godfrey Bloom’s antics have upstaged the 2013 UKIP conference. Fairly or not, this conference will be defined by his bizarre behaviour and will undermine all that was done to present UKIP as a serious party ready for (local) government in 2014. UKIP held their conference in London to attract more publicity and scrutiny – a decision which, I suspect, it will now regret.