Bradford MP George Galloway criticises MEP Godfrey Bloom for foreign aid comments

MEP Godfrey Bloom

MEP Godfrey Bloom

First published in News
Last updated

A UK Independence Party Euro MP could only have been more offensive when he questioned the use of foreign aid cash in "bongo bongo land” if he had “put an imaginary bone through his nose”, according to one Bradford MP today.

The words used by Godfrey Bloom, the UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, has provoked a storm of condemnation.

Mr Bloom has since apologised for language he used during a public speech in the West Midlands last month.

Video footage showed the MEP say: “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.

"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.”

Mr Bloom initially defended himself during national media interviews today, but later said he regretted his words.

He said: “I used a term which I subsequently gather under certain circumstances could be interpreted as pejorative to individuals and possibly cause offence.

“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.

“My aim, successful as it appears, was to demonstrate the immorality of sending £1bn per month abroad when we are desperately short of money here.”

Mr 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."

UKIP’s Bradford and district chairman Jason Smith said he would have chosen different language.

“When you’re in a position, you have to be whiter than white. Other people could say it and get away with it. I think we need to be careful, but at the same time we are being targeted as well. The other parties don’t get the same scrutiny.

“We agree with the things he was saying about foreign aid, but the wording was certainly poorly chosen.”

But Bradford West MP Mr Galloway said Mr Bloom’s comments were “simply unacceptable”.

“He represents us in European Parliament and he thinks it’s acceptable to refer to places as ‘bongo bongo land’,” he said.

“Short of putting an imaginary bone through his nose, what could be more offensive?”

Labour’s MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Linda McAvan said: “Aid does not end up buying Ray-Ban sunglasses at all. It’s very damaging.

“In some of these poorest countries people live lives that are very hard for us to comprehend in extraordinary circumstances.”

Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Timothy Kirkhope said: “The less said about him, the better. UKIP has now got to make it clear where they stand or become a pariah party of the country,” he said.

Liberal Democrat Bradford East MP David Ward, who is currently suspended from his party for comments he made about the treatment of Palestinians, said: “There will be many, many people, particularly on the right, who will just say,’ This is good old Godfrey’ and have a bit of a laugh. But this is serious stuff.”

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