Yesterday UKRep, the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union, held their traditional reception to welcome British MEPs to the European Parliament. It was, for me, a deeply depressing experience. Not only were most of the UKIP MEPs present; they were also accompanied by young women in fairly flimsy purple dresses. We had, in addition, Tory sceptics and other assorted Brits, most of whom appeared at best lukewarm towards the EU. It brought home to me just how far Britain has moved away from support for Europe.
However, there were some bright spots. It was good to see British Commissioner Cathy Ashton there. The keynote address from Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Minister for Europe, was absolutely delightful. At last we have a Europe Minister who knows not only knows the subject but has years of experience as an MEP. Glenys, of course, talked about her passion, international development, and how she wished to continue contributing to Europe on the world stage.
Unfortunately, but maybe not surprisingly, I head a voice from the back barrack Glenys when she said how pleased she was that more women have been elected to the European Parliament. As you may have guessed, it was none other than UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom (of women should clean more behind the fridge fame) grunting that women should make the tea. Not quite as bad as the BNP calling Glenys Kinnock a “political prostitute” but, together with the purple dresses, indicative of UKIP’s undisguised sexism.