Ukip conference in chaos after Godfrey Bloom hits journalist
Ukip's annual conference was hit by chaos today, after one of its MEPs hit a journalist and called a room full of women "sluts".
In other developments, reports emerged of Nigel Farage allegedly holding fascist views and singing pro-Hitler songs at school while a former Ukip MEP said the candidate selection process was "gerrymandered".
But the focus this afternoon was on Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom, who was attending an event on the advancement of women in politics when two female party members joked that they did not clean behind the fridge – a reference to his comments about where women belong.
Bloom responded by saying: "This place is full of sluts."
Outside the room he was confronted by journalists about the remark, but the MEP said it was a joke.
"I made a joke and said 'oh well you're all sluts' and everybody laughed and all the women laughed," he said.
"Was there a single women in there who didn't laugh at the joke?"
Bloom then branded Sky News journalist Dan Mccaffrey a "sad little man" before leaving onto the street.
He was asked by Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick why a brochure emblazoned with the phrase 'changing the face of politics' featured only images of white people.
Bloom, who writes a monthly column for Politics.co.uk, responded by branding Crick a racist.
"What a racist comment. How dare you, that's an appalling thing to say, you're picking people out for the colour of their skin? You disgust me," he said.
When Crick followed him down the street, Bloom hit him in the face with the brochure.
Moments afterwards, Ukip member Diane James, who nearly won the Eastleigh by-election fight for the party, said Bloom should consider his position.
Crick then tweeted that Bloom had threatened to punch another reporter.
Godfrey Bloom threatens to punch Yorkshire TV reporter
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) September 20, 2013
Crick reported that Bloom told the reporter: "You treat me badly, you'll get a lot worse than that [a slap]… That is a threat to any journalist."
Afterwards, Bloom tweeted in his own defence.
Made a purposely outrageous joke among friends which was taken as joke by women present
— Godfrey Bloom (@Goddersukip) September 20, 2013
As Bloom gave a speech on defence issues to the conference, Farage started to suggest that he may withdraw the whip from the MEP, saying he has "gone beyond the pale".
He added: "Maybe he should be considering his position within the party.
"My recommendation is that we now today remove the whip."
Not long afterwards a Ukip official tweeted: "UKIP Chairman has removed the whip from Godfrey Bloom pending a formal disciplinary hearing."
Green party MP Caroline Lucas said: "Sadly, this immature, public schoolboy mentality is an unpleasant fact of politics – and Ukip seem to excel at it.
"Bloom may well be trying to dismiss this as a joke but there's nothing funny about sexism or about a party that tolerates it."
Bloom had been due to hold a book launch for his autobiography in Westminster this evening, but it was cancelled just before the start time.
The bizarre developments came amid reports of alleged fascist sympathies from Ukip leader Farage when he was in school.
A recently unearthed letter from former teacher Chloe Deakin suggests Farage expressed "racist and neo-fascist views" and was so offensive he had to be removed from lessons.
The letter claims that Farage and others had once "marched through a quiet Sussex village very late at night shouting Hitler-youth songs".
The Ukip leader yesterday admitted he had said a number of "ridiculous things" while at school but insisted they were "not necessarily racist".
"Yes of course I said some ridiculous things. Not necessarily racist things. Well it depends how you define it," he told Channel Four News.
He described claims he had once shouted Hitler Youth songs as "complete baloney" adding that he did not "even know the words".
His former deputy head at Dulwich College in South London, admitted Farage had expressed support for far right groups but insisted it had been "naughtiness" not racism.
"I think at times he adopted a sort of facade" Terry Walsh told the programme, adding that: "I don't think he ever believed it."
However, another one of Farage's teachers said some members of staff were offended by Farage's views
"The accusation from some staff was that Nigel had voiced views that were not simply right wing… but views which were quite clearly racist," former English teacher Bob Jope said.
Farage today dismissed the story, telling the BBC he had simply been trying to provoke left-wing teachers at the school.
He added that "frankly for this to appear on the eve of our conference is pretty desperate stuff."
The new allegations emerge as the Ukip leader told his party conference that the coming "Romanian crime wave" will be at the centre of their European election campaign.
"The campaign will be dominated by open door immigration to Eastern Europe," he said.
"There is an even darker side to the opening of the door in January. London is already experiencing a Romanian crime wave. There have been an astounding 27,500 arrests in the Metropolitan Police area in the last five years.
“Ninety-two per cent of ATM crime is committed by Romanians. This gets to the heart of the immigration policy that Ukip wants."
The Ukip leader mocked the three mainstream party leaders for stealing his rhetoric on immigration following the party's electoral success this year.
"Some of their right wing rhetoric really worries me," Farage joked.
"It's a charade."
Meanwhile, former Ukip MEP Mike Nattrass revealed that he left the party because the candidate selection process was "gerrymandered".
Nattrass said Farage was "a great front man" but that "you can't have a one-man party making all the rules".
Nattrass currently sits as an independent.
Ukip is holding its conference in Westminster over today and tomorrow.