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Ukip's Bloom has whip withdrawn
A UK Independence Party (Ukip) MEP who branded a room full of women "sluts" has had the party whip withdrawn.
The party's chairman took the step after Godfrey Bloom's comments overshadowed the Ukip conference in Westminster. Mr Bloom has insisted the remark was a joke but party leader Nigel Farage said the MEP, who is no stranger to controversy, had "gone beyond the pale" this time.
Ukip chairman Steve Crowther said: "I have withdrawn the whip from Godfrey Bloom, pending a formal disciplinary hearing." Mr Farage said Mr Bloom's behaviour had been "selfish" and was overshadowing "all the good things" happening at the conference.
He added: "The trouble with Godfrey is that - he is not a racist, he's not an extremist or any of those things and he's not even anti-women - but he has a sort-of rather old fashioned territorial army sense of humour which does not translate very well in modern Britain." He added: "My opinion is Godfrey has gone beyond the pale. He's a friend of mine and I'm sorry to say it but he has gone beyond the pale and I think we have no option but to remove the whip from him."
Attention at the party's conference in Westminster was diverted from Mr Farage's keynote speech by Mr Bloom's actions, which also included an altercation with a TV journalist over allegations of "racism". Pressed about the sluts comment, Mr Bloom told Sky News: "I made a joke and said 'oh well you're all sluts' and everybody laughed including all the women."
In a reference to previous comments made by Mr Bloom that he was keen to deal with women's issues because they did not ''clean behind the fridge enough'', a Ukip woman is heard joking: "I too have never cleaned behind my fridge." Yorkshire and the Humber MEP Mr Bloom is then clearly heard responding "this place is full of sluts" on the audio clip of the meeting recorded by the Huffington Post website.
Mr Bloom later asked BBC Newsnight's political editor Allegra Stratton whether her mother ever called her a slut. In an interview broadcast by the BBC, Mr Bloom asked Ms Stratton: "You're untidy, you leave your kit lying around, has your mother never called you a slut?"
Ms Stratton, laughing, replied: "I don't think she has. She's called me other things but not that." Mr Bloom said: "Perhaps you're very tidy. There was no malice, it was a joke, it was all on camera."
Mr Bloom also raised eyebrows when he hit Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick over the head with a copy of Ukip's conference guide and then called him a racist. He was confronted by the Channel 4 News political correspondent over why there were "no black faces" on the cover of the conference brochure.
Mr Farage told the conference: "There is no media coverage of this conference. It's gone. It's dead. It's all about Godfrey hitting a journalist and using an unpleasant word. It's gone. And we can't put up with it." Applause followed from delegates and Mr Farage continued: "We can't have any one individual however fun or flamboyant or entertaining or amusing they are, we cannot have any one individual destroying Ukip's national conference and that is what he's done today. I'm sad about that but we can't tolerate this."