Ukip brushes 'bongo bongo' row under the carpet

Godfrey Bloom: Laughs off racism accusation
Godfrey Bloom: Laughs off racism accusation
Ian Dunt By

Ukip will not be taking disciplinary action against one of its MEPs, despite outrage over his use of the phrase "bongo bongo land".

Godfrey Bloom was accused of being "offensive and narrow-minded" after a video of him using the phrase was released to the press.

"How we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month when we're in this sort of debt to bongo bongo land is completely beyond me," Bloom said at a meeting in Wordsley last month.


"To buy Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it that goes with most of the foreign aid. F18s for Pakistan. We need a new squadron of F18s. Who's got the squadrons? Pakistan, where we send the money."

Ukip chairman Steve Crowther said: "We are asking Godfrey not to use this phrase again, as it might be considered disparaging by members from other countries.

"However, foreign aid is an extremely important debate that needs wider discussion."

Bloom said he had recieved a call from Ukip leader Nigel Farage asking him not to use the term again. He said he agreed not to, but would not apologise for using it originally.

He later released an apologetic statement.

"At a public speech in the West Midlands in early July, I used a term which I subsequently gather under certain circumstances could be interpreted as pejorative to individuals and possibly cause offence," he said.

"Although quite clearly no such personal usage was intended, I understand from Ukip party chairman Steve Crowther and leader Nigel Farage that I must not use the terminology in the future, nor will I and sincerely regret any genuine offence which might have been caused or embarrassment to my colleagues."

The decision not to discipline Bloom opens Farage up to accusations of double standards.

He recently ensured an Italian MEP was expelled from Ukip's European alliance for saying a black minister was part of a "government of bongo bongo" which would impose "tribal traditions".

Speaking on BBC radio this morning, Bloom tried to laugh off the episode.

"Everybody gets so excited about a place that doesn't exist," he said.

"If I've offended anybody in Bongo Bongo land I will write to their ambassador at the Court of St James.

"My job is to upset the BBC and the Guardian. And I love it."

Rushanara Ali, Labour's shadow international development minister, said: "These are an offensive and narrow-minded set of remarks.

"The British are among the most generous in the world and recognise that Britain's commitment to international development is both morally right and key to securing our future prosperity.

"If Nigel Farage is serious about getting rid of racism and intolerance in his party, he should take action against Ukip politicians who think it's acceptable to refer to developing countries as 'bongo bongo land'."

It is not the first time Bloom has been mocked for his odd habits and choice of phrase.

The MEP had a page on his website entitled 'Godfrey Bloom: The Misogynist?' which simply showed him with a variety of women.

Today Bloom said the idea that 'bongo bongo' was a racist phrase was "laughable". He added that he has two Kashmiri staff and a Polish wife.

Elsewhere in the speech, the MEP said: "You can torture people to death but you jolly well can't give them a full life sentence because that's against their human rights.

"We can't hang them because we're now a member of the European Union and it's embedded in the treaty of Rome.

"It's a personal thing but I'd hang the bastards myself … Especially for some of these, especially for the guy who hacked the soldier to death. I do hope they would ask me to throw the rope over the beam because I'd be delighted to do so."

The phrase 'bongo bongo' has obvious racial overtones but is generally considered ignorant rather than outright racist.

Tory minister Alan Clark, who called Enoch Powell 'the prophet', referred to Africa as "bongo bongo land" in a departmental meeting.

When called to explain himself he said it was not a racist comment and merely referred to the president of Gabon, Omar Bongo.

The Urban Dictionary defines it as: "Humorous description of a third world country, usually in Africa."

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