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September 21, 2013 / ultrafox1963

That joke isn’t funny anymore

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom hits out at media questioners

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom hits out at media questioners

Until yesterday, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, had enjoyed a successful year.

An accomplished manipulator of the media, the ex-banker had acquired and cultivated a significant fanbase by ceaselessly promoting a string of carefully-crafted prejudices, most notably in relation to immigration and the European Union.

Farage’s relentless stream of photo-opportunities, with cigarette in one hand and pint of beer in the other, helped to convince many unwary folk that he truly was a “man of the people” and struck a chord with many disenchanted by more conventional career politicians.

His prediction of victory for his party in next May’s elections to the European Parliament was widely viewed as no idle boast. However, fulfilment of that prophecy seems far more remote after yesterday’s car-crash of a party conference.

The media seized upon the front page of UKIP’s conference brochure, mischievously-titled “Changing the Face of Britain”. Every one of the 300 people depicted on that cover was white.

There was nothing remotely subtle about that message. UKIP made no effort to conceal its contempt for the concept of a modern, multi-cultural, multi-racial nation. Farage may not have dressed up in a pointed hat or burned a cross on stage, but the subtext was clear for all to see.

While Farage managed to retain composure during such sustained scrutiny, not all his senior colleagues were able to do so. The gaffe-prone Godfrey Bloom, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, engaged in a heated, violent public exchange with veteran Channel 4 reporter Michael Crick – a clash captured on camera for the world to see.

UKIP’s nightmare deepened even further when news emerged of Bloom branding female audience members “sluts” at a lunchtime meeting. The habitual indulgence of the party’s senior hierarchy for his antics had been stretched too far and he was duly suspended pending further investigations.

As some UKIP loyalists took to Twitter and other parts of cyberspace to decry a “media conspiracy”, Farage despaired as his efforts to dispel his party’s image as “fruitcakes, loons and closet racists” lay in ruins.

In truth, yesterday’s incidents follow a pattern of behaviour in various parts of the country, including splits within Lincolnshire County Council (where UKIP had won 16 seats in May) and the failure by party officers to vet a string of Parliamentary and council candidates with dubious backgrounds.

Despite the valiant attempts by Farage and his media cheerleaders to persuade us otherwise, UKIP is not fit for office at local level, let alone national or European ones.

But the vagaries of the proportional representation process employed for European elections may enable Farage to retain a presence in Brussels and continue his party’s long-standing (but curiously under-reported) exploitation of the expenses system.

However, any hopes he may have harboured of winning seats in the House of Commons (in his wildest dreams, he may even have foreseen UKIP holding the balance of power) have probably been dispelled.

Farage’s extensive efforts to enter the political mainstream have suffered a serious, perhaps even terminal, blow.

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