The response to the Nicholas Fromage game is yet another reminder that Ukip can dish it out, but they can’t take it
It is sad, watching Britain’s professional offence-takers take over more and more of our public life. You can’t say anything these days without someone clutching their pearls or dropping their monocle and telling you how terribly inappropriate your harmless banter was.
Yes, it is absolutely extraordinary how thin-skinned Ukip supporters are.
Which is funny, really, since they’re the ones who are always telling us that the latest hilarious outburst by a Ukip councillor or MEP or parliamentary candidate or whatever is just a bit of fun and that the people who raise an eyebrow at it are out of touch with how real people speak outside the Westminster bubble. A man called Kerry Smith calls gay people poofters and Chinese people “Chinkies” and suggests going on “peasant hunts” in Essex, and Nigel Farage thinks that’s earthy working-class man-of-the-people stuff. A chairman of a local Ukip branch claimed that some gay people “prefer sex with animals”, so in apparent agreement the local candidate told a story about how a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse. A potential candidate called Chris Scotton “liked” a Facebook site which claimed that racism was “just ethnic banter”. Another blamed Jewish people for the Holocaust. All this stuff, according to a Ukip spokesperson, was “ordinary people many of whom are young and have made the odd excessive comment on new media”. It’s just top bantz, a bit of silly horseplay, nothing to get too excited about, and the Offended of Islington like yours truly just can’t take a joke.
In fairness, maybe that’s true. These aren’t, generally, the Ukip standard bearers, although Roger Helmer and Godfrey Bloom were pretty senior and said/did some pretty spectacular things (sluts and bongo-bongo land were the best, probably). And Farage himself has dropped some clangers. But in general, it’s local councillors or even candidates for council elections; the fact that in the serried ranks of party nobodies it is possible to hunt out some boorish and/or stupid people saying boorish and/or stupid things should not, perhaps, surprise us. Maybe we should be able to rise above it a bit.
What’s funny, though, is how incapable of rising above it Ukip is when something faintly rude is said about them. Yesterday, it broke that a mobile game had been made in which you could play Nicholas Fromage, the leader of a party called Ukik. The game was you kick immigrants off the White Cliffs of Dover, winning racism-points and damaging the British economy as you did so.
The real-life Mr Fromage, fierce defender of banter-squadrons everywhere, of course, took it with the sang-froid and buffalo-like hide for which he is rightly famous. Oh no wait, sorry, he blew his lid in spectacular style. “Those elements are risible and in many ways pathetic. I think I’m quite well known for having a sense of humour… but elements of this game appear to cross the line.” Which is particularly funny since the Ukik game was made entirely by a bunch of Kent schoolchildren.
But this is just par for the course when it comes to Ukip. They can dish it out – “it” being a series of ugly comments about gay people, immigrants, ethnic minorities, bi-curious donkeys, women, Muslims and, of course, LibLabCon – but as soon as anyone issues the faintest criticism of Ukip itself, out come the smelling salts. A Green party member in Cambridge had a visit from the police after tweeting a jokey piece called “10 reasons to vote Ukip”. The Ukip-supporting James Delingpole, formerly of this parish, has complained that Farage was “stitched up” in an interview with Steph and Dom, the posh ones off of Gogglebox. You really aren’t in the right job if you’re a politician who’s been outfoxed by two tipsy B&B owners.
The place you’ll see this the most, of course, is online. Under every piece criticising Ukip – even gently; even in the context of a generally positive piece – there will be 5,000 comments, most of them from people with names like Aethelred or Defender_Of_The_Realm44, roaring about anti-Ukip conspiracies and the mainstream media’s efforts to keep the party down. (By, for instance, getting Farage on Question Time every three days.) Tweet anything remotely rude about Ukip and you’ll see a similar response (the trick is to mute them, and leave them shouting ineffectually into the void, guys. You can have that one for free). And this is unique to Ukip. If you say comparably critical things about Labour, or the Tories, or the Greens, or the Lib Dems, you won’t have to spend two days fighting angry spam.
And yet no one in Ukip has the self-awareness to see that they can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a proud warrior for free speech – I may not agree with what you say about sluts who won’t clean behind the fridge, but I will defend to the death your right to say it! – or you’re not. You can’t be a Voltaire for the things you agree with and a weeping crybaby when someone’s a bit mean to you. For all their posing as brave sayers of the unsayable and champions of the forgotten British values of calling a spade a spade or whatever, Farage and his weeping bunch of milquetoasts have skins of dry parchment. Toughen up, guys. Nicholas Soames once put it brilliantly, in reference to Mr Fromage: “In politics, there is no point being a shrinking f—–g violet is there?”
John Rees-Evans has joined the ranks of Ukip members whose comments are attracting more attention than the party would like
“Just don’t,” Ukip’s chairman, Steve Crowther, recently told party members tempted to express odd views on Twitter. In the light of a “Gay donkey tried to rape my horse” headline generated by a Ukip candidate in Cardiff, Crowther should probably tell them to avoid being filmed on YouTube too.
The culprit was John Rees-Evans, Ukip’s candidate in Cardiff South and Penarth, who produced his bizarre claim on Saturday in an exchange with protesters outside a new campaign office Ukip has opened in Merthyr Tydfil.
Ironically, Rees-Evans unveiled his contribution to the list of wacky Ukip quotes when he was being asked to respond to some of the most controversial things that Ukip members have said in the past. What about the claim from the chair of a Ukip branch that “some homosexuals prefer sex with animals”?
“Actually, I’ve witnessed that,” Rees-Evans replied in an apparent attempt at humour, prompting a burst of hilarity among the protesters.
“I was personally quite amazed,” he told them. “I’ve got a horse and it was there in the field. And a donkey came up, which was male, and I’m afraid tried to rape my horse.”
So, in this case, whoever made the original claim was “obviously correct” because in this case a “homosexual donkey” was attracted to a horse, Rees-Evans said, in an exchange that was videoed and has been posted on YouTube.
The would-be MP, who runs a tour company taking travellers to east Africa, told the Guardian on Monday: “It is not as though I was making a serious point. I was simply answering a question, rather than telling the person that he was ridiculous for raising it.
“I was asked to respond to quite a bizarre statement, and it’s my view that British people are fed up with politicians evading uncomfortable questions and so I tried to give the only kind of answer I knew how to give because, frankly, I do not have any experience of homosexuality, or humans copulating with animals. So the closest match, from my personal experience, was the case of what appeared to be homosexuality with animals.”
Rees-Evans’s tale may be judged naive, but he conceded that “some people who do have connections with Ukip do say some outrageous things from time to time” and that this was probably related to the nature of the party.
“The reality is that, when you have a party that does not have a whipping system, where politicians fear being disciplined for saying the wrong thing, inevitably you will have quite a diversity of personal opinion,” he said.
David Cameron once dismissed Ukip as “fruitcakes, lunatics and closet racists, mostly” and there is a long history of Ukip figures having to stand down after making offensive comments. The “some homosexuals prefer sex with animals” claim was made by Julia Gasper, who stood down as chair of the Oxford branch after it was revealed last year.
Godfrey Bloom, a former Ukip MEP, sparked outrage by complaining about aid being sent to “bongo bongo land”. A Ukip councillor was suspended last year for sharing offensive material on Facebook about Muslims, and only recently Kerry Smith stood down as a Ukip candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock after being recorded mocking gay party members as “poofters” and referring to someone as a “Chinky bird”.
Rees-Evans said that, in his experience, when Ukip members said things that were genuinely unacceptable, the party got rid of them.
But some extremist Ukip comments are better classified as bonkers than offensive. The most notorious of these was the claim by David Silvester, a town councillor in Henley, that last winter’s storms and floods were divine punishment for gay marriage. Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, responded by saying that no one had complained about Silvester’s views when he was a member of the Conservative party.
Another category of Ukip “gaffe” has involved party members expressing views that may have once been considered mainstream, but are now widely considered reactionary, such as a Ukip MEP’s remark that women do not have the ambition to get to the top “because babies get in the way”. Farage has repeatedly stumbled into this territory himself, for example with his recent complaint about “ostentatious” breastfeeding.
Rees-Evans said Ukip had to decide whether it wanted its members to continue to be allowed to speak out or whether it should exercise more discipline.
“Ukip is essentially at a crossroads, in the sense that it can go two ways,” he said. “It can either say look, sadly, you guys are going to have to shut up and avoid answering questions, or crack on, answer questions honestly.
“We will occasionally get into trouble but we would prefer to have that kind of libertarian ethos in the party that allows you to say whatever you think.”
Of all the people involved with UKIP, one person has constantly been at the front of the queue when it comes to scandal and controversy.
Godfrey Bloom, The Ex UKIP MEP became a household name after stories such as “Bongo Bongo Land” and “The Sluts Row” hit national headlines.
Some of the more gullible UKIP members would label Bloom as ” A loveable rogue”. It’s not a term I would use.
Now that Bloom is no longer on the UKIP gravy time, he has to find activities to fill his diary and it looks like he has found a suitable one for the middle of October.
Godfrey Bloom is to be a guest speaker at a Traditional Britain Group conference held in London on October 18th. The fact Bloom is speaking at the event is controversial enough, however Bloom will be sharing a platform with a collection of far right politicians.
Whilst Bloom name does not appear on the original TBG flyer, their website and Facebook page confirm Bloom is a late addition to the roster.
The Traditional Britain Group is a tiny right wing campaign group that has some links to the Ultra right wing of the Conservative Party.
The man who stands at the helm of the TBG is the controversial Gregory Lauder Frost.
Lauder-Frost is a former BNP member and was previously a member of the Conservative Party’s Monday Club as well as the Western Goals Institute. He believes that the UK was wrong when it declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939 because the Nazis had no quarrel with our country.
He also believes that the Nuremburg trials where a “farce… without an ounce of legitimacy” and defended the Luftwaffe’s bombardment of Coventry, saying: “Britain had all its small arms and tanks manufactured at Coventry. If you did not want to be bombed you should not have declared war on a country who had no quarrel with you.”
Lauder-Frost was jailed for two years in 1992 for embezzling money from his employers, the Riverside health authority. The court heard he had channelled money into extreme right-wing political causes. It also emerged at the end of the trial that he was implicated in attempts to sell Russian arms to US based far right groups.
The Traditional Britain Group was criticized for overt and disgusting racism after they called for the Labour peer Doreen Lawrence and millions of ethnic-minority Britons to “return to their natural homelands”. Lauder-Frost said of Doreen Lawrence “: “We do not feel there is any merit in raising such a person to the peerage. She’s a complete nobody. She’s just a campaigner about her son’s murder. It’s ridiculous. She has made countless anti-English comments over the last 10 years. She’s no friend of the English people.”
He continued “This woman has done the British nation no favours whatsoever. If these people don’t like us and want to keep attacking us they should go back to their natural homelands.”
Sharing a platform alongside Bloom and Lauder-Frost is the former Croatian diplomat Dr Tomislav Sunic, who has regularly addressed racist gatherings in America and Europe.
In August 2003, Sunic gave a lecture alongside the far-rightist ex-lawyer Horst Mahler, currently serving a prison sentence in Germany for Holocaust denial, at a conference sponsored by Germany’s nationalist far-right party, the National Democratic Party.
Sunic spoke at the BNP conference in 2013 and has also addressed several meetings of the National Front including its 45th Anniversary meeting in 2012 and a meeting in Bradford in 2009.
The Croat sits on the board of the American white nationalist political party American Freedom Party (AFP) and is the author of the vile anti-Semitic book, Homo Americanus.
Also listed to speak is a name familiar to Hope not hate readers, Paul Weston, chairman of the miniscule Liberty GB party.
Weston was previously better known as the chairman of the now defunct British Freedom Party, the political wing of the thuggish English Defence League.
Paul Weston is a regular blogger for the “counter-jihadist” anti-Islamic website Gates of Vienna. Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik took inspiration from the website and Weston’s articles claiming that there is a “civil war” brewing in Europe with Islam. When questioned in 2012 Weston admitted that the articles may well have inspired Breivik.
The far right barrister Adrian Davies has spoken at TBG gatherings before and will be again later this month, indeed he spoke at their re-launch meeting in 2010, alongside controversial racist lecturer Dr Frank Ellis.
Davies unsuccessfully represented the Holocaust denier David Irving at the Court of Appeal in 2001 after Irving had failed in a libel action against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books.
Previously chairman of the now-defunct far right Freedom Party, Davies is also linked to the BNP and is a regular speaker at meetings of the far right “New Right”. He was one of the founders of the far right farce that was The British Democratic Party.
Godfrey Bloom is still very much a member of UKIP and is very popular in the party, particularly in his old European region of Yorkshire & Humber where he very close to newly elected MEP’s Jane Collins & Mike Hookem. In fact there are a large number of UKIP members in the region who would like to see him back in the forefront of the xenophobic party.
Only time will tell.
An investment firm whose major shareholder is the controversial former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom has been ordered to pay a retired couple more than £2m in damages after losing a High Court case where it was condemned for giving “negligent advice” and gambling their money on mining and natural resource funds.
Andrew and Kirsty Mohun-Smith said they were horrified after discovering that York-based TBO Investments Ltd had ignored their request for cautious financial planning and instead placed almost all their money in unregulated high-risk schemes which were later suspended. TBO made no attempt to make any offer to the Mohun-Smiths after the couple complained, nor did the company agree to mediation. TBO Director Scott Robinson, a former business partner of Mr Bloom’s, did not bother to attend the court hearing in June and sent a sick note which Judge Richard Seymour QC dismissed.
TBO must now pay £2.24m and were ordered by the judge pay an interim payment of £30,000 by 14 July, but the Mohun-Smiths are yet to receive a penny. A subsequent appeal by Mr Robinson was also thrown out and TBO was ordered to pay an extra £10,000 in court costs.
Mr Mohun-Smith, 57, said: “I relied upon [TBO] to put in place investments for us that would provide a reliable and comfortable standard of living for the rest of our lives. However, to my complete horror it has become clear that nearly all our money was placed in unregulated collective investment schemes which have been suspended with an almost complete loss of capital.
“This company and its advisor Scott Robinson must be stopped from giving financial advice to members of the public. They provide negligent and misleading advice. They do not seem to realise that they are playing not only with people’s money but their lives and it cannot continue.”
Since the High Court ruling, TBO has ignored all communication from the Mohun-Smith’s solicitor Jonathan Mortimer, from Raworths in Harrogate, including requests to provide details of TBO’s insurance policy. Mr Mortimer has now written to all three TBO directors – Mr Robinson, David McLaughlin, a former Ukip employee in Mr Bloom’s office, and Christopher Tresidder – as he pursues them individually for the £2m compensation advising them to take independent legal advice in respect of personal liability.
Latest company accounts show that Mr Bloom owns 53.5 per cent of TBO Investments. He was director of TBO between 1992 and 2004, the year he became an MEP, although he remained a consultant until 2007. TBO was also fined £28,000 in 2008 over an “’unacceptable risk of unsuitable investment advice being provided” for six years from 2001-07. There is no implication that Mr Bloom was involved in any of TBO’s advice to its clients.
Ukip withdrew the party whip from Mr Bloom in September 2013 after he struck a journalist in the street and referred to woman as “sluts” at his party conference. He sat as an independent MEP until the end of his term in office in May this year. In 2009 it emerged that Mr Bloom, then Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, used his parliamentary staff allowance to pay three assistants, including Mr McLaughlin, who were also employed by TBO.
In a separate case TBO was hit by the Financial Ombudsman Service last month when the watchdog ordered the firm and Mount Sterling Wealth (MSW), another financial company run by Mr Robinson and Mr McLaughlin from the same address as TBO, to pay a pensioner £20,000 after she received “negligent” advice.
The woman, who only wants to be known as Mrs Q, was left “devastated” after discovering Mr Robinson invested 60 per cent of her £50,000 life savings in high-risk mining and natural resource funds between 2007 and 2011. Mrs Q was 64 and drawing her state pension when she first invested with TBO and living with her partner in a property with a “reasonably significant” mortgage. She was one of several TBO clients who received letters from Mr Robinson in 2011 inviting them to transfer into his new firm MSW. Mr Robinson subsequently increased Mrs Q’s exposure to high-risk funds to 80 per cent and she has fought for two years to get her retirement savings back. Ombudsman James Harris ordered both TBO and MSW to pay Mrs Q “fair compensation”, which has been estimated at £10,000 from each firm.
Mrs Q, who turns 71 on Monday, told The Independent: “I entrusted the majority of my life savings to TBO Investments and more recently Mount Sterling Wealth. I was devastated when I found out that I had lost so much of my original investment particularly as I had just retired. What has made the experience so much more frustrating has been their response to the claim – in particular, they have denied liability throughout, failed to keep to deadlines imposed not only by their own internal procedures but also by the Financial Adjudicator and even suggested that I was an experienced investor who should have known the risk that I was taking on.
“I have only been paid £5,000 by MSW after numerous letters from my solicitor threatening to wind up the companies and it looks as if I have no alternative put to take enforcement action to recover the majority of the money still due to me.”
Mr Mortimer, who is also representing Mrs Q, said: “I would understand if the directors put their hands up and admitted to a mistake but the way they have conducted themselves is absolutely disgraceful.”
Mr Bloom told The Independent on Friday he was “stunned and horrified” to hear about the rulings against TBO and size of compensation owed to the Mohun-Smiths and Mrs Q.
He said: “I’m just back from holiday and don’t know anything about it. I’m majority shareholder but left the company in 2004. When I was there TBO never handled any money. I simply can’t understand how this has happened. When I was there at no time would we have allowed investments to be made in unregulated funds as we would simply not have passed regulatory inspection had we done so.”
Mr Bloom said he “bumped into” Mr Robinson and Mr McLaughlin every year but was unaware of any problems with the company.
He said: “I assumed my shares were worthless. I was told there was a management buy-out of TBO and I understood that it was being wound down. I never received any recompense and just assumed it would happen at some point. I suspect there is much more to this than meets the eye and I certainly hope some good comes of it for those concerned.”
Mr Robinson is believed to be on a two-week holiday and did not return calls. A spokesperson for TBO said: “All the matters relating to the Mohun-Smiths’ claim are in the hands of our solicitors. It would be inappropriate to comment any further pending the Court of Appeal reviewing the matter, save to say that Mount Sterling Wealth Limited has no connection to the Mohun-Smiths’ claim.
“As to Mrs Q, we have no wish, and do not think it would be appropriate, to discuss the specifics of cases or clients. However, whilst we are disappointed with the decision made by the Financial Ombudsman Service the outcome is fully acknowledged.”
A former brothel madam who served time in prison has re-emerged as a Ukip fundraiser and supporter.
Vanessa Coleman, 68, is organising the opening of a regional HQ in Bournemouth and has hosted events , including a sponsored slim and a £12.50 per head “VIP afternoon tea” with former MP Neil Hamilton.
A photograph of her with Ukip leader Nigel Farage at a garden party features on her Facebook pages, where she is friends with MEP Godfrey Bloom, and on Twitter, where she is knows as @MadamVanessa.
She was jailed for eight months in 2006 after being found guilty of running venues for prostitution and possessing counterfeit goods.
Ms Coleman describes herself as an entrepreneur and carer, as well as “Patriotic” and a Ukip supporter.
Her memoirs, An Accidental Madam …. a true story, tell of working as a dominatrix and employing up to 30 working girls.
A Ukip spokesman said: “We’ve got nothing to say on this.”
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Thursday evening (5 June) met outgoing independent MEP Godfrey Bloom, who still retains Ukip membership in Britain.
Officially, Ukip is not interested in an alliance with Le Pen, but Bloom is a long-time supporter of the French politician and has ignored Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s request not to contact her.
Bloom lost the Ukip whip and left the European Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group earlier this year after having jokingly called a female audience “sluts” and after having slapped a BBC journalist on the street.
He has retained party membership back home, but has not been re-elected to the new parliament.
According to sources close to the meeting, Bloom had a friendly conversation with Le Pen, who was interested in how her party might be perceived in Britain.
He told her that her worries the National Front may be seen as anti-Semitic are unfounded because in Britain “hardly anyone knows what anti-Semitic means”.
EFD spokesman Herman Kelly told this website the meeting does not mean the two parties will formally team up in the EP. “Nigel told him to desist from any interaction with her. What he’s doing is on his own,” Kelly said.
Le Pen is confident she can get enough MEPs (minimum 25) from enough countries (minimum seven) to form a group even without Ukip.
So is Farage, who last week had a lunch with Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo in the Ravenstein, an Indian restaurant in the centre of Brussels.
Farage later posted on his Facebook page that he had “great fun” with the Italian leader of the Five Star Movement, who has a “huge personality”.
The lunch didn’t lead to a political alliance and has hampered efforts by Grillo to get his 17 deputies into the Green group.
Other talks are being held by the Greens with independent MEPs from Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands in an effort to get them to join their group.
More one-on-one meetings among MEPs are expected next week, as groups need to be formed by 24 June when the numbers in each faction are formally counted. After this committee chairmanship and membership will be decided – something that will be keenly watched by Brussels’ thousands of lobbyists.
An overview of parties switching groups and new MEPs joining new or old groups can be found here.
Godfrey Bloom, the outspoken MEP who had the Ukip whip withdrawn after jokingly calling a roomful of women “sluts”, has made another gag – involving child molesters.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Bloom, who is currently an independent MEP and not standing again in this Thursday’s European elections, said that he was looking forward to no longer having to tell people that he was an MEP. “Sometimes I try and pretend that I’m a child molester,” he quipped.
In less close-to-the-knuckle remarks, the ex-Ukip MEP, who infamously derided Britain’s aid to “bongo bongo land”, weighed in over Ukip’s disastrous carnival that the party hosted in Croydon in a bid to rebuff allegations of racism.
Bloom said that events like Ukip’s carnival smacked of “tokenism” and were a sign that the party was “slipping into political correctness”.
He said: “Ukip have got a problem and that is you tend to inherit the politically correct lexicon and you start nodding in the direction of tokenism and it follows through for policy. They’re slipping into political correctness.
“I fear we may be drifting into a ‘don’t frighten the horses’ policy,” he said, warning that the party was adopting an attitude of “let’s go mainstream and let’s do all the things the main parties do”.
Nigel Farage has fought to dismiss suggestions that Ukip was racist, with the Ukip leader using a London rally earlier this month to show off the party’s ethnic candidates, saying: “Please do not call us a racist party.”
Ukip’s Croydon carnival was thrown into chaos on Tuesday after the steel band walked out and dozens of anti-Ukip protesters had assembled for the carnival, with one holding up a sign saying: “We are Romanians and we don’t feel comfortable with your racism.”
Bloom said that Ukip’s tactics to rebuff allegations of racism “ring a little like saying ‘Some of my best friends are black'”, but admitted that it can be “very difficult’ to avoid doing anything else.
“If you accuse a party of being racist, they’re going to stand up and say well that’s not true we’ve got lots of BME people. It’s very difficult, how would you counter that accusation?”
Farage was forced to back out of appearing at the Ukip carnival, where he was set to make a speech and an appeal to black and ethnic minority voters, citing security concerns.
Winston McKenzie, who stood as the Ukip candidate for parliament in the constituency’s 2012 by-election and organised the carnival, said there were “certain situations you have to avoid” and that Croydon had “become a dump”.
Bloom declined to say if he agreed with McKenzie’s about the area becoming a “dump” as “I don’t think I’ve been to Croydon for 40 years and I couldn’t tell you how it is.”
The ex-Ukip MEP, who used by the party’s economics spokesman, attacked the reporting of the carnival for “keeping out” Mckenzie but “interviewing the British blacks playing in the steel band.”
Farage earlier this week tried to explain away controversial comments about the desirability of living next door to Romanians by saying he was “tired out”.
Bloom, who shares a flat with Farage in Brussels, said that the Ukip leader would be “over-tired at this stage of the campaign” and “been run ragged”.
He partly blamed the fact that Farage was a “hopeless delegator”, remarking: “General Monty made sure he got his 7 hours a night, and he wasn’t making mistakes!”