VIDEO: MEP calls women 'sluts' and hits journalist with brochure
Published 20/09/2013 | 17:32
A UK Independence Party (Ukip) MEP who branded a room full of women "sluts" has had the party whip withdrawn.
The party's chairman took the step after Godfrey Bloom's comments overshadowed the Ukip conference in Westminster.
Mr Bloom has insisted the remark was a joke but party leader Nigel Farage said the MEP, who is no stranger to controversy, had "gone beyond the pale" this time.
Ukip chairman Steve Crowther said: "I have withdrawn the whip from Godfrey Bloom, pending a formal disciplinary hearing."
Mr Farage said Mr Bloom's behaviour had been "selfish" and was overshadowing "all the good things" happening at the conference.
He added: "The trouble with Godfrey is that - he is not a racist, he's not an extremist or any of those things and he's not even anti-women - but he has a sort-of rather old fashioned territorial army sense of humour which does not translate very well in modern Britain.
"What he ought to have learnt is that time and time again he says things that overshadow the whole agenda that Ukip is fighting for."
He added: "My opinion is Godfrey has gone beyond the pale. He's a friend of mine and I'm sorry to say it but he has gone beyond the pale and I think we have no option but to remove the whip from him."
Attention at the party's conference in Westminster was diverted from Mr Farage's keynote speech by Mr Bloom's actions, which also included an altercation with a TV journalist over allegations of "racism".
Pressed about the sluts comment, Mr Bloom told Sky News: "I made a joke and said 'oh well you're all sluts' and everybody laughed including all the women."
In a reference to previous comments made by Mr Bloom that he was keen to deal with women's issues because they did not ''clean behind the fridge enough'', a Ukip woman is heard joking: "I too have never cleaned behind my fridge."
Yorkshire and the Humber MEP Mr Bloom is then clearly heard responding "this place is full of sluts" on the audio clip of the meeting recorded by the Huffington Post website.
Mr Bloom later asked BBC Newsnight's political editor Allegra Stratton whether her mother ever called her a slut.
In an interview broadcast by the BBC, Mr Bloom asked Ms Stratton: "You're untidy, you leave your kit lying around, has your mother never called you a slut?"
Ms Stratton, laughing, replied: "I don't think she has. She's called me other things but not that."
Mr Bloom said: "Perhaps you're very tidy. There was no malice, it was a joke, it was all on camera."
Ukip's Diane James, who finished second in the Eastleigh by-election earlier this year, described Mr Bloom's comments as "unacceptable".
She told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "What he said for me is personally unacceptable. It doesn't reflect well on Ukip and it doesn't reflect the vast, vast majority of Ukip members."
Mr Bloom also raised eyebrows when he hit Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick over the head with a copy of Ukip's conference guide and then called him a racist.
He was confronted by the Channel 4 News political correspondent over why there were "no black faces" on the cover of the conference brochure.
Mr Bloom took a swipe at the broadcaster with the agenda and replied: "What a racist comment is that? How dare you? That's an appalling thing to say. You're picking people out for the colour of their skin, you disgust me."
Mr Farage had singled out Mr Bloom in his conference speech, in which he said some in the party had made "public pronouncements that I would not always choose myself".
Mr Bloom was previously criticised for an attack on Britain sending aid to "Bongo Bongo Land" and has been forced to deny that claims that no "self-respecting businessman" would hire a woman of child-bearing age were sexist.
"I had the most blistering row with Godfrey Bloom in a Strasbourg restaurant the other day. He wants to fight for his beliefs and I was saying that we need to stick to the big messages," Mr Farage said.
In his speech Mr Farage predicted the party was on course to "cause an earthquake" by winning next year's European elections in what will effectively be a referendum on Britain's future EU membership.
Sighs and gasps were heard among the conference audience as Mr Crowther told them the whip had been withdrawn from Mr Bloom.
Answering questions from the conference platform Mr Crowther said: "It's my role to make decisions and sometimes those are popular and sometimes those are unpopular."
He added: "Godfrey has had a couple of incidents today outside the hall and elsewhere which are now conditioning the media coverage of this conference.
"So essentially we have done a lot of good work in this hall today and we were driving an extraordinarily positive agenda within the media up until lunch time today and that has gone out of the window I'm afraid.
"I spent an hour and a half in BBC studios today just answering one set of questions after another from all over the country about what Godfrey did today.
"Now that is a shame because it overshadows what we're doing here for the party."
Mr Crowther said he had spoken to Mr Bloom, who accepted the decision.