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.

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

Labour Party

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.

Ed Miliband should follow Merkel’s example and campaign for Hollande in the same way as she is for Sarkozy

Labour Party

The Presidential election in France to be held on 22 April with a further round on 5 May, if necessary, matters hugely to the rest of Europe. Were Francois Hollande to win, there would be one significant voice at the top table in Europe opposed to the current centre-right imposition of continent-wide austerity as the sole solution to the economic crisis. France would provide an alternative policy, and a humane one to boot, which is lacking at present.

Chancellor Merkel has astutely realised the importance of the French election from her point of view, and has already announced that she will campaign for her fellow conservative, Nicolas Sarkozy. Rather sensibly David Cameron, I suspect, realises that his support for M Sarkozy would be a vote loser rather than a winner.

The same does not apply to Ed Miliband and the Labour leadership team. Ed going to France to campaign for Francois Hollande could be combined with a real effort to secure the votes of the 300,000 French nationals living in the UK for M Hollande. Such bold moves would go a long way towards signalling a new era of European co-operation between parties on the centre-left. It may also lead to the emergence of a European centre-left agenda for jobs and growth.

The 60 proposals put forward by Holland in France represent a radical departure from 10 years of conservative government in that country. Hollande is committed to renegotiating the “fiscal pact”. While not rejecting budgetary discipline, the French socialists do not accept austerity without accompanying measures for growth.

What is more, Francois Hollande was selected as the Socialist Presidential candidate by three million socialists in an open primary, the first time such an experiment has been tried in France. This was not some internal political party stitch-up but a democratic election, and as such deserves recognition.

There is also the growing problem of the Front National in France. Its new leader, Marine le Pen, is a more formidable opponent than her openly racist and xenophobic father Jean-Marie. Although she objects to the term “far right”, make no mistake – that is exactly what she is.

It is a matter of huge concern that Le Pen’s opinion poll ratings have been going up, reaching the levels of those of President Nicolas Sarkozy. She even came top in one poll while another said that one in two of those questioned saw the Front National as “a party like the others”.

According to the BBC, commentator Agnes Poirier thinks Mme Le Pen may well “do better than her father in [the presidential elections of] April 2002, that is to say she is very likely to be present at the second round [of voting] and therefore likely to knock Nicolas Sarkozy out of the race… of the elections.”

Despite her softer image, Marine le Pen is the mirror image of her father. The Front National remains a hard, ultra-right party. During a speech in December 2010, Marine le Pen called the regular blocking of public streets for Muslim prayers in French cities an “occupation of parts of the territory”. Marine Le Pen now senses a political opportunity for “a more moderately presented, more middle class, more gently smiling form of extremism, rather than a snarling form of extremism”.

Campaigning in the French Presidential elections would provide Ed Miliband with the opportunity to stand up against racism and the far-right as well as supporting an economic policy with the interests of the people of Europe at its heart. The French campaign to choose their President matters more to us than that in the United States. The Labour leadership has the opportunity to make a bold stand which also has the merit of being the right thing to do.

HOW TO KEEP CLEAR OF A FASCIST

Far Right, Labour Party

I posted a status on Facebook recently about leaving a queue because I found myself next to Jean Marie Le Pen MEP, the French National Front Party leader, and had a number of supportive comments. How to deal with a fascist in Parliament?

I am always disappointed to see how warmly some of the staff greet and attend to Mr. Le Pen. Not the black staff of course. Sadly, the National Front poll relatively strongly in the Strasbourg area. Some local people are happy to take the economic benefits of a number of European institutions, with the Council of Europe also meeting here. Yet perversely a xenophobic view of the world provides support for the far-right.

Once I had an important guest and I took them to one of the Parliament’s restaurants. I did not have a booking and it was heaving. The only place we could sit was at a large table of 8. The waitress apologised but offered us to share. The reason these were the only free seats, was that on the other side of the table sat Mr. Le Pen. My guest was as keen as me to decline the offer, and we found a bar with a far better atmosphere, if a far more limited selection of food. Others before me and afterwards declined this unpleasant invitation. Gentle courteous shunning.

On other occasions I have seen the restaurant full, but for the few seats free on Le pen’s table.

Another small way to make one’s point is to never share a lift with Mr. Le Pen. So often he is alone, or with just his assistant in a lift that could easily take 10, you would think he had a problem with wind all the time. Who knows, perhaps he does? I never get that close to find out!