He's only gone and done it again hasn't he? It seems Godfrey Bloom never seems to miss an opportunity to shoot UKIP in the foot. He stands accused of referring to women in the room of a fringe meeting he addressed as being "sluts". Based on the available footage of an "interview" afterwards he doesn't appear to deny the accusation, but merely puts it down to being a joke and apparently one that all the women in the room laughed at. I don't even want to comment on his casual use of the word slut and the assumption he made that the women in the audience would see the funny side of it.
Last time Bloom fired off his mouth with controversial comments, Richard North and Autonomous Mind and others pointed to this kind of behaviour as doing serious damage to their efforts to be seen as credible. The result of their observations where that prompted a lot of discussion. AM in particular drew comments that drove him to the point of ceasing to blog any further. Much of the logic defending Bloom was that somehow he had promoted debate, albeit in an awkward fashion but nothing more.
For me however, today's events shows why they correct to write what they did. Right there at the UKIP conference when they appear to be promoting their message that they intend to be a major force, Bloom plays right into the hands of their critics.
In pure politics terms, it's stupidity of the highest order. For those who have seen the clip of him being interviewed it doesn't take long to observe there is something about the interview to suggest he's being played. Politely challenged at first he then gets hit with the question about why all the candidates are white and he seals the deal with a display of pantomime outrage and cries of racism towards the interviewer.
I'm all for freedom of speech. I'm all for adult debate about issues but Bloom is, well, words just fail me. We've already learned (as if we didn't already suspect) that playing on the big stage of politics is a dark game as laid bare by Damian McBride. The result is, if you have serious ambitions of power as a party the one thing you have to have is campaign discipline.
You have to understand that no matter how honest and altruistic your message, there will be people out there looking to bring you down. It's bad enough holding unpalatable points of view but it's another to let them out. In short you keep your mouth shut. The reality would seem to be that nobody is your friend and comments like those Bloom used today are either used as currency later on when someone else wants a favour or they're sharpened to stab you in the back when the lust for power takes over someone you might even consider a friend.
Campaign discipline is about only the message you choose as a party, gets out that day. That's why New Labour had their famous "Grid" for communicating. It was that discipline that was key to them winning the election in 1997. Today for UKIP the message that made it on to the news was those points Farage was trying to make about the EU coursing through almost all aspects of life in Britain and yet Bloom's actions saw to it that Farage was left to try and rescue that message in between answering for his colleagues indiscretions.
For what its worth, I thought Farage did a good job of that and credit where it's due, UKIP have (finally) moved quickly to demonstrate Bloom was out of order. Furthermore, having heard some of his comments today, I thought Farage did a reasonable job of getting that message of the EU everywhere in British life as well as hitting home on the farce of the wind farm agenda. The trouble was that was in a live interview. I expect that his robust promotion of his message will be disappear in the edited versions as Bloom will once again become the main news that British public will be presented with.