Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

A paper by Labour in London this week drew attention to the capital’s childcare crisis. The document revealed that there were 35,000 fewer nursery places since the Conservatives took office, and that childcare costs have increased by 30%. Labour have announced they will increase childcare for 3-4 year-olds from 15 to 25 hours per week, and will increase funding through a levy on banks. This would create an extra 72,000 places in London alone, where the struggle to keep up with costs is beginning to spiral out of control for many parents.

A report last month by the think tank IPPR drew attention to the present childcare crisis. The study showed the inextricable link between maternal employment levels – on which the UK performs worse than many OECD countries – and the poor childcare provisions Britain has to offer. IPPR said childcare of under-fives was essential to bring about better rates of work and pay for women, and that the ideal proportion of a family’s disposable income spent on childcare should be no more than 10%.

With Sure Start nurseries coming under threat from the government during this parliament – not to mention the TUC’s revelation last year that Britain has Europe’s worst maternity provisions – much more needs to be done. The alternative will be another generation of 50-65 year old women stuck in long-term unemployment or forced to deskill to find work.

I’m therefore delighted to see Labour in London spelling out such a clear direction of travel on this issue. The Tories produce a lot of hot air when it comes to getting women in the boardroom or the debating chamber, but to find sustainable solutions to these problems we need to address the systemic factors that drive women out of the workplace during their early thirties.

Also this week, Tory backbencher Robert Halfon made headlines when he referred to some UKIP members as “literally akin to the Nazis”. Halfon, a comparatively moderate Conservative, said Nigel Farage’s party could be split into two tribes: Godfrey Bloom-style buffoons and more “sinister” nationalists in the mould of Gerard Battern. He ironically thanked UKIP for “cleansing” his party of its lunatic fringe.

Halfon’s words draw attention to a sharp conflict within the Conservative Party, between those who want to remain borderline sane, and a larger faction who see the current state of British politics as an opportunity to drag the centre ground ever further to the right. For the latter group the existence of UKIP provides a convenient excuse; a political imperative to propel their party towards bigotry and knee-jerk populism. As I wrote in my round up last week, the end point in this journey is a type of Tea Party fanaticism which blocks all forms of progress.

So far David Cameron has made a host of concessions, essentially allowing the ultras within his party to dictate policy. One can only hope, for the sake both of British national interests and of democracy per se, that senior Conservative figures start to look beyond the ‘path of least resistance’ solutions they currently seem so keen on.

Godfrey Bloom’s attitudes are ‘the tip of the UKIP iceberg’

Labour Party

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom this afternoon prompted outrage when he suggested a room of women were “sluts” for not “cleaning behind the fridge”. Party leader Nigel Farage appeared on television shortly afterwards to announce the withdrawal of the party whip.

As followers of this blog will know, I have been a long-time critic of Bloom. His words today were not an isolated ‘gaffe’ or a one off misjudged joke. Since becoming an MEP he has repeatedly courted controversy, whether it be his ‘Bongo Bongo Land’ remarks, his Nazi jokes in the EU Parliament, or his assertion that no business should hire “a woman of child-bearing age”. His social attitudes are not just old-fashioned – they are prehistoric. There is no place for the likes of Bloom in British or European politics, and there has not been for several centuries.

The condemnation Nigel Farage made of Bloom was carefully calibrated, calling him “beyond the pale” but at the same time referring to his “dad’s army” sense of humour. The intention was to distance Farage and UKIP from Bloom, but simultaneously to pass the whole episode off as a storm in a teacup, blown out of proportion by a politically correct media.

We must not allow either of these things to happen. Bloom’s comments today were not just the words of a marginal buffoon (as Farage wants us to believe). They in fact come far closer to representing the true spirit of UKIP than anyone in the party’s high command would admit. Barely a day goes past without a UKIP candidate somewhere making a racist or sexist comment of some kind, and many of the party’s elected representatives have at points flirted with far right politics.

Many right-of-centre politicians use dog whistle messaging to make clear their position on race or gender. UKIP are particularly guilty of this. Bloom is only unusual in that he routinely breaks ranks and is openly derogatory. Farage and others in UKIP must not be allowed to distance themselves from him. Their language may be more refined, but their actions and voting records tell us what they really think. Bloom is just the tip of the UKIP iceberg.

Back in the thick of it after the European Parliament’s summer break, it is time to take up this blog again. It is, indeed, a perilous time and I will be blogging on Syria later following a debate in the European Parliament which is due next week. Suffice it to say for the time being that I am in total agreement with the decision recently taken by our own Westminster parliament and intend to reflect that view when we come to vote in the European Parliament.

Even though the Syrian question is rightly currently dominating politics, there remain other pressing matters. Yesterday evening I was privileged to attend the launch of the Policy Network think tank book “Progressive Politics After the Crash” edited by Olaf Cramme, Patrick Diamond and Michael McTernan. The excellent debate on the pressing question raised prompted me to examine other material from the Policy Network.

This insightful piece by Michael Skey, Lecturer in Media & Culture at the School of Political, Social and International Studies, University of East Anglia, gives us in the Labour Party pause for thought about the UK Independence Party. One of Skey’s most significant points is where he quotes research carried out by YouGov in February 2013 showing that UKIP supporters generally have less formal education and a slightly lower than average income, which means they are more likely to be in lower social groups (C2 and DE), rather than ABC1.

This is, of course, a really significant finding as it demonstrates that far from only attracting disgruntled, and affluent, Tories, UKIP is increasingly taking voters from Labour. I understand that some of the established Labour heartlands in the North of England have seen quite substantial shifts in recent local elections.

Many people no longer feel loyalty to one political party whom they support throughout their lives. Politics is becoming ever more volatile and fragmented, a situation which has allowed UKIP to gain ground. Their brand of “anti-politics” populism has flourished, to the point where over the summer UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom felt able to refer to Africa as “bongo bongo land”. The only comfort is that UKIP is not as strong as we are led to believe. They have only 202 councillors, many of whom are at parish level.

Nevertheless UKIP remains a threat to Labour, and we must take it seriously. And UKIP is not only an electoral threat. Their populism comes from the far right, which means, of course, that they will take more Conservative than Labour votes. However, partly by virtue of the amount of media coverage UKIP receives, which is far more than its size and number of votes merits, we are in danger of the political discourse and eventually the policies of all our political parties moving to the right.

I don’t want a small party made up of “racists, fruitcakes and loons” as David Cameron once graphically described UKIP to have any influence whatsoever on the government of the United Kingdom. As a nation we are worth far more than that.

Labour Party

Watch UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom’s latest anti-women rant


The subject of women on boards was discussed at a joint meeting yesterday of the Legal Affairs and Women’s Rights Committees. The Committees were discussing the Commission proposal to increase the number of female non-executive directors in publicly listed, large companies.

In his intervention UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom started by saying it was not the place for the EU to decide who sat on the boards of private [sic] companies, which smacked of the old Soviet Union. He then likened the women on boards initiative to quotas for political parties, eg “Blair’s Babes” and “Cameron’s Cuties”, which resulted in young women being put in “impossible positions”. To clinch his argument he said “one junior Conservative minister, a woman, didn’t know the difference between the national debt and the national deficit”. You can watch his misogynistic speech above.

 My reaction was since when has gender had anything to do with someone making a slip-up. Godfrey Bloom had himself just made an error in his opening sentence, referring to private companies, yet I don’t believe anyone would blame his ineptitude on his gender.

 As is his style, once he’d made his intervention Godfrey Bloom left the room before any members could respond.

From the Archive: Nigel Farage accused of being Stalinist and anti-women

Labour Party

This blog comes from February of this year at a time when Marta Andreasen MEP was thinking about quitting UKIP.  Well for any of you who don’t know, she did quit in the end and is now a member of the Conservative party and is part of the European Conservative and Reformist group.  Seemingly the bullying, sexism and general chauvanism that characterises the UKIP delegation in the European Parliament became too much for her.  I think I probably disagree with Marta on a good many things, but on this I can feel nothing but sympathy for her; having to work with the likes of Farage, Bloom, and Batten can’t have been easy.

Nigel Farage accused of being Stalinist and anti-women

Political aficionadas, not to mention geeks, may remember when UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom told the world way back in 2004 that a woman’s place was cleaning behind the fridge.

Incredibly, UKIP misogyny has just got much worse. Marta Andreasen, their only woman MEP, has launched a searing attack on Nigel Farage. “He (Farage) doesn’t try to involve intelligent professional women in positions of responsibility in the party. He thinks women should be in the kitchen or in the bedroom.” she told the BBC.

Marta Andreasen, who represents South East England in the European Parliament, has said she is unlikely to stand as a UKIP candidate next year. Andreasen, who worked for the European Commission before joining UKIP and being elected in 2009, told the BBC that “if things don’t change” within the party “she can’t imagine a way to continue”.

Andreasen continued by telling the BBC that she had been openly criticised by her party leader and other MEPs, suggesting that this amounted to bullying. “I’ve been bullied, in private situations, for decisions I have made by Nigel. I have been accused of being disloyal, breaching confidence and breaching my contract with the party. There’s an attitude that either you keep silent about everything that’s been going on in the party or suffer the consequences.” Ms Andreasen said she believed Mr Farage – who was re-elected as leader in 2010 after standing down a year earlier to contest a Westminster seat – “did not like women”.

Farage’s views on women are not, apparently, the only problem. Ms Andreasen told LondonlovesBusiness.com: “Under his (Farage’s) leadership – and I have questioned his leadership obviously a number of times – the party (UKIP) has become a dictatorship. This is a Stalinist way of operating and he doesn’t care about the membership or the grassroots.”

Andeasen says she plans to stay in the European Parliament as a UKIP representative until the end of the current Parliament in 2014, to see out her mandate and “look for ways I can continue to represent the membership”. She may consider standing as an independent next year.

It’s worth remembering former UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire, a lesbian, who won a sex discrimination case against her former colleagues on a default judgement at Exeter Employment Tribunal after UKIP failed to lodge a defence. Sinclaire claimed UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom had called her “queer”.

From the Archive: UKIP provide further proof of their far-right leanings

Labour Party

UKIP have proved time and time again that they are a great deal more extreme in their politics than they would have you believe as these archives blog seem to be proving.  This blog was originally posted last year when a number of MEPs joined UKIP’s European Parliament political group the Europe for Freedom and Democracy party.  The most worrying among them is Slavi Binev, formerly of the Hungarian political party Attack, an extreme right wing organisation.

UKIP provide further proof of their far-right leanings

This morning in the plenary chamber Martin Schulz announced that two MEPs have joined UKIP’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) political grouping.  

The first of these is Mike Nattrass, though he is actually rejoining after quitting the group in June 2010.  Mr Nattrass left the group because, as he said, he did not want to sit with MEPs “who do not wish to leave the EU and have very odd views on many issues which are incompatible with my own”. He also said that by remaining a member of the EFD he “would be condoning this progressive destruction of our cherished institutions” and would be ‘far more effective’ as a non-attached MEP.

Perhaps more intriguingly, the newest member of the EFD is Slavcho (aka Slavi) Binev from Bulgaria.  Mr Binev was elected in 2009 as an MEP for Attack, a far-right nationalist party, that he has since left.  The Attack party has been involved in a number of scandals, most notably in 2006 when then leader Dimitar Stoyanov made racist and misogynistic remarks about another Bulgarian MEP.  What’s more Mr Binev was named in a 2005 US diplomatic cable on organised crime as heading the MIG entertainment group whose ”criminal activities include prostitution, narcotics, and trafficking stolen automobiles”.

UKIP are a strange bunch with stranger friends and this acceptance of Slavi Binev is further proof.  It’s worth remembering another person who felt the need to leave the EFD, Nikki Sinclaire who resigned from the EFD citing her displeasure at what she claims to be some of the racist, extremist parties that belong to the group.  Sinclaire was subsequently expelled from UKIP for refusing to be part of the EFD group, but went on to win an Employment Tribunal claim for sex discrimination against them.

Farage may be feeling confident after UKIP’s showing in the recent by-elections, but he should show a bit more care about his public perception.  I have already spoken about Godfrey Bloom’s sharing wine with fascist leader Marine le Pen and now Farage has decided to campaign against gay marriage in order to steal votes from the Tories.  Farage, it appears, is well on the way to exposing the extreme-right and bigoted character of UKIP.

From the Archive: UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom MEP “I share a glass of wine a few times a year with Marine le Pen”

Labour Party

This blog was from December of last year, when it emerged that Godfrey Bloom was involved with the European Aliance for Freedom (EAF) that includes the far-right French MEP and former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, among other nationalist politicians.

I think it’s important to remind ourselves of just how right wing UKIP are now. We shouldn’t forget that many UKIPers lean more towards the extreme end of the political spectrum. A case in point being Godfrey Bloom.

UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom MEP “I share a glass of wine a few times a year with Marine le Pen”

At the start of December, Yorkshire & Humber MEP Godfrey Bloom wrote an article defending his involvement with the European Alliance of Freedom (EAF), a pan-European political party which includes far-right parties from across Europe. Despite Bloom’s active involvement in the EAF, UKIP has a policy of not joining pan-European political parties. He argued that the party, whose executive include the French Front National, Belgian Vlaams Belang and Austrian Freedom Party, are solely united by their euro scepticism.

However, he then admitted to sharing “a glass of wine a few times a year with Marine le Pen” saying she was a ‘protectionist and socialist’.

Marine Le Pen is the leader of the Front National in France, and the daughter of its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been convicted of racism of inciting racial hatred at least six times. In 2010, Marine Le Pen compared Muslims praying in France to Nazi occupiers, and when challenged said “My comments were absolutely not a blunder, but a completely thought-out analysis.”

Godfrey Bloom was chair of the EAF until last month, when a new board was announced at a press conference in the European Parliament. The new chair is Franz Obermayr from the Austrian Freedom Party, and Marine Le Pen and Belgian MEP Philip Claeys are co-Presidents. Fellow board member is Kent Ekeroth, an MP for the Swedish Democrats.

The leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, was roundly condemned in August this year for posting a cartoon on Facebook similar to anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda. A former FPÖ official is currently facing criminal charges for campaign literature with the slogan “Love your home country instead of Moroccan thieves”.

Kent Ekeroth is currently ‘taking a break’ from the Swedish Democrats, after footage of him and several key Swedish Democrat politicians on a drunken racist rampage was leaked to the press.  The Swedish Democrats also hit the headlines for recently sending a schoolboy a web link showing decapitated bodies in response to a request for their views on Islam.

Philip Claeys is a member of Vlaams Belang, a Flemish separatist party established after its previous incarnation, Vlaams Blok, was dissolved in 2004 for violating race hatred laws. Recent Vlaams Belang campaign literature included a picture of a white sheep kicking a Moroccan Muslim sheep out of Europe.

Bloom appears to have closer views to his fellow EAF members than he admits.  He referred to ‘dim-witted Johnny Asiatic’ in a recent article on trade tariffs on Chinese pottery, and was ejected from the parliamentary chamber for shouting Nazi slogans at a German MEP in 2010.

Bloom also stood for UKIP in Humberside for the Police & Crime Commissioner elections in November, coming fourth with 16.06% of the vote.

From the Archive: The ever more appalling Godfrey Bloom brings shame on us all

Labour Party

Following Godfrey Bloom’s extraordinary outburst on London Loves Business where he states that hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs should be abolished as the public sector drains money out of the economy, I have posted another Bloom story. This one comes from my archive and shows just how unbelievebaly atrocious UKIP really are.

This blogpost went out on November 24th 2010, and is about Bloom in the European Parliament addressing German MEP Martin Schulz, at the time leader of the S&D,  using language associated with Hitler and the Third Reich.  After refusing to apologise, Bloom was ejected from the chamber.

The ever more appalling Godfrey Bloom brings shame on us all

Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorks and the Humber, was ejected from the European Parliament today for using language associated with Nazi Germany when addressing a fellow MEP. In a debate this morning Godfrey Bloom used the phrase “ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” towards German MEP Martin Schulz, the Leader of the Socialist and Democrat Group.

Shortly after midday the Vice-President of the European Parliament chairing the session in the European Parliament chamber, British Liberal-Democrat MEP Edward McMillan-Scott who holds his Vice-President post as an  independent, ordered Mr Bloom to apologise to Mr Schulz. Failure to do so would lead to Mr Bloom being ejected from the chamber.

Inevitably Godfrey Bloom refused to apologise, following which McMillan-Scott put the motion that Mr Bloom be ejected to the vote. It was carried overwhelmingly.

Again very predictably, Bloom refused to go, despite the European Parliament ushers’ peaceful attempts to persuade him, whereupon McMillan-Scott ordered a five minute suspension. At this point Bloom skulked off and didn’t return.

During these proceedings as the atmosphere became ever more febrile, BNP MEP Nick Griffin shouted loudly in Bloom’s defence. However, since his microphone wasn’t on, Griffin’s efforts had no discernible effect.  Telling also that newly re-elected UKIP Leader Nigel Farage was passionate in Bloom’s defence.

Bloom’s utterly appalling behaviour was totally unacceptable. If you feel, as Bloom clearly does, that the second world war is not yet over, then you should at least have the decency to distance yourself from an institution, the European Parliament, which seeks to foster European co-operation and understanding. I do not believe it is either right or effective to seek election to the European Parliament and then take every opportunity to attack it. If you feel you must exercise your right to freedom of speech Mr Bloom, go and do it somewhere else. It is wholly out-of-order to use the chamber of the European Parliament to grossly insult fellow parliamentarians and attempt to resurrect past wars and past anti-democratic, violent and racist political movements in a place set up to enable Europe to recover from its twentieth century past.

From the Archives: UKIP member’s strange behaviour in chamber

Labour Party

Another UKIP blog that I thought was worth reminding my readers of was this from 6 February 2012.  During a debate in the plenary chamber in Strasbourg on the subject of sport, Godfrey Bloom made a somewhat odd interjection directed at Tory MEP Emma McClarkin.  It was a completely unintelligible question about something to do with the Cambridge women’s rugby team. 

UKIP member’s strange behaviour in the chamber

You may have already seen this on the Political Scrapbook blog.  It’s so good, I am repeating it for all my European readers who may not have caught it first time round.

From the Archive: Gerard Batten is Best, Forget the Rest

Labour Party

To continue with more of my previous blogs on UKIP.  This one is from November 6th 2009, a time when the UKIP leadership elections were taking place and Gerard Batten was hoping to succeed Nigel Farage.

Gerard Batten is Best, Forget the Rest


Fellow London MEP Gerard Batten is apparently campaigning to succeed Nigel Farage as leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). The site set up to support him is interesting to say the least.Yesterday there was a post arguing that Gerard Batten’s attempts to cover up fraudulent spending of European Union monies did not matter, and there was no need for an investigation. An unusual position for a party which claims to be against the misuse of EU monies.However, like Ashley Mote and now Tom Wise, Gerard does not consider that laws apply to him. Gerard is a man who does not believe it is in the British character to play by the rules, and pay your taxes. He is refusing to pay his television licence.

Let’s return to his campaign website which reads a bit like the diary of Adrain Mole aged 55 and 3/4. Schoolboy politics might provide a slogan like  “Forget the rest and vote for the best.”   In the unlikely event of a Batten victory how will Gerard create a leadership team of all the talents other UKIP MEPs?

Gerard’s leadership blog certainly likes a bit of Viz style humour, commenting on the recent Exeter UKIP leadership hustings, the verdict is juvenile:  Pants to the rest, Gerard is the best!

Let’s hope this blog is written by an over enthusiastic supporter of Gerard’s.

Looking at his official website there is no mention of his campaign for Leader. Google “Gerard Batten” and Leader in news, and you find that the BNP have been writing to Gerard as the kind of person they think would like to donate to them. Why would this be?

Look at Gerard’s website, it is a place where a BNP supporter would feel at home.  Let’s start with his article “The Myth of Multiculturalism” which starts

“THE MYTH of multiculturalism depends on the belief that completely different cultures, and indeed contradictory world views, can peacefully co-exist within the same geographic and political space.”

Gerard represents London, he doesn’t seem to have noticed there are people with lots of differents beliefs in London. We all manage to rub along together. Londoners are pretty tolerant people, we even manage to put up with UKIP MEPs.

How about Gerard’s views on immigration? He’s written a 4 page pamphlet on the subject with the title “Enough is Enough“?

Then there’s his article in Freedom Today The Islamist threat to freedom where he talks about his regard for far right Dutch politician Geert Wilders (who Gerard is pictured with above).

You can begin to see why the BNP might consider Gerard Batten would want to support them. Let’s turn back to the intellectual masterpiece that is the “myth of multicultalism” article. This says in language strikingly like something Nick Griffin might say: “The British political and intellectual elite have not only thought that multiculturalism is highly desirable but they have spent the last fifty years actively bringing it about.”

Who could Gerard mean? How about current UKIP leader Nigel Farage? He’s married to a German. Yorkshire UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom? He’s married to a Pole. Even the Queen married a Greek. That’s right Gerard lots of British people are marrying foreign people, and I think love is wonderful, but you want to stop it?

Often when I write about UKIP members misbehaviour I receive notes from UKIP members complaining that they are decent people, and are unlucky to have so many people of bad character in UKIP. The other possibility is UKIP attracts people of bad character, discuss.

Looking at Gerard Batten’s record shouldn’t UKIP be investigating him rather than considering having him as a party leader?

Now that Tom Wise has admitted his guilt to expenses fraud, shouldn’t questions be asked as to why Gerard Batten defended him and tried to excuse Tom Wise’s fraudulent misdemeanours?

Surely any mainstream political party expects their representatives/leaders to pay taxes like the television licence fee?