Saturday, July 24

UKIP's enlightened view of women's rights

Amongst a series of embarrassments for UKIP at the first plenary session of the new European Parliament, none was bigger than comments made by Godfrey Bloom MEP, whom UKIP named as its representative for the European Parliament Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.

Proudly proclaiming that he would be representing "men's rights" on the committee, Bloom made clear his views on a number of gender equality issues.

On maternity leave, he said that "[if] you want to have a baby, you hand in your resignation and free up a job for another young lady", explaining that he would like to overturn EU maternity legislation if his position allowed. He said maternity laws that gave women six months of paid leave and the option of another six months unpaid leave, had resulted in women losing jobs and employment. Many businesses only employed women over 40, he said.

"Regulation in protection of women is all well and good in academic and government circles. If you're a small business, you'd be a lunatic to hire a woman of child bearing age." A party spokesman then backtracked from Bloom's position, suggesting that an exemption for businesses with less than 20 employees could solve much of the problem.

He also claimed that he wanted "to deal with women's issues [...] because I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough." He added: "I am here to represent Yorkshire women, who always have dinner on the table when you get home."

Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock said that Bloom is "entitled to join the committee, though I wouldn't hold out much hope he'll enjoy it or get an easy ride." However, UKIP's attendance record in the last parliament suggests that he will attend only enough meetings to qualify for parliamentary allowances.

Kathy Sinnott, an Irish member of the Independence and Democracy group, to which UKIP belongs, said that she is considering whether she can remain a member of the same political group in the Parliament.

Despite his bluster, neighbours of Bloom point out that for all his straight talking, his home life does not bear out his notions of a woman's work being cleaning and cooking - his wife Katie is one of the country's leading horse physiotherapists.

In his home village of Wressle, Yorkshire, the Guardian found that Mr Bloom's neighbours were distinctly unimpressed with their new representative in Europe, with women in the village describing him as a "buffoon".

"My husband and I are a small business, and I can tell you they wouldn't exist without women," local businesswoman Claire Smith told the Guardian.

The Guardian was also told of Bloom's notoriously explosive bonfire night party and how, according to fellow guests, he lectures dinner parties on subjects such as the "lack of famous women composers".

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,1266246,00.html; http://politics.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,,1266963,00.html; http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,1265637,00.html; http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1265336,00.html; The Independent, 21 July 2004

UKIP arrive in Strasbourg: sexism, suits, sleaze and secrets

The first Strasbourg session of the new European Parliament was 'graced' by UKIP's newly-elected band of MEPs, desperate to hit the headlines.

The major headline of the week was created by Godfrey Bloom MEP, whose own particular views on women's rights are covered in greater detail here.

Robert Kilroy Silk's first publicity stunt was to tear up his ballot paper for the election of the new president of the parliament. He then went on to explain his vision of Europe (quoted in the Independent, 21 July):

"I am very fond of Italy and Spain... I spend a lot of time in France every single year. I like the people, I like the culture. I think I am wearing a motley collection of foreign clothes."

Despite this valiant display of his opposition to xenophobic attitudes, the week also saw the alliance of UKIP with dubious political forces in the creation of the Independence and Democracy parliamentary group. This group, co-chaired by Nigel Farage and the Danish Eurosceptic Jens-Peter Bonde, has two chairs and two divergent philosophies: 'get out' (represented by UKIP) and 'press for democracy and reform' (represented by Bonde and the Danish June Movement). It also includes ten members from the ultra-right League of Polish Families, many of whose members have made anti-Semitic or xenophobic comments. More on UKIP's strange bedfellows can be found here.

Just before the Strasbourg session, UKIP removed the whip from Ashley Mote, whose forthcoming court appearance on charges of benefit fraud had not been noticed by the UKIP hierarchy before the European elections... despite being noticed by the Daily Telegraph. Mote, who had campaigned to clean up sleaze in Brussels, will now sit as an Independent.

Kilroy Silk also made a u-turn on his parliamentary activities - despite initially intending to boycott Strasbourg sessions of the Parliament, he said, "I might attend every plenary session".

He also seems to be changing his mind on transparency in the EU - when asked whether he will make public his declaration of financial interests, he said, "If I feel I don't want to I won't".

Sources: The Independent, 21 July 2004; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3899969.stm; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3912205.stm

Wednesday, July 14

Help us expose UKIP: send us your stories and links!

We are always on the lookout for new stories and links about UKIP antics, especially in Brussels and Strasbourg. If you know of anything relevant which hasn't been covered on this website, please let us know!

UKIP ally with ultra right group in European parliament

Article in the Sunday Herald on UKIPs alliance with the ultra-catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-gay League of Polish Families in the European Parliament. The new parliamentary group "Independence and Democracy" will now benefit from European taxpayers money: a marriage of convenience?

UKIP’s record in the European Parliament is appalling

Britain in Europe article from June 2004 on UKIP's record in the European Parliament.