South Yorkshire MEP rebuked over ‘bongo bongo land’ comments

Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.
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One of Sheffield’s MEPs has been rebuked by his party – for complaining about the provision of taxpayer-funded aid to ‘bongo bongo land’.

Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber, was recorded questioning the UK’s overseas aid payments, claiming the recipients spend the money on luxuries.

He told a meeting of supporters in the Midlands that those who receive aid spend the money on ‘Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it’.

But responding to the controversy over the ‘bongo bongo land’ comments, Steve Crowther, UKIP chairman, 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.”

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Mr Bloom was asked what he would do if UKIP told him to ‘mind your language’.

Mr Bloom said: “I’d say ‘sorry, sorry everybody’. If I’ve offended anybody in bongo bongo land, I shall write to the ambassador a and apologise to him personally.”

Mr Bloom said charity begins at home and he believed he was standing up for ‘ordinary people’ who are unrepresented in the current political system.

He said: “What I am suggesting is, when a country has £1 trillion of debt and we’re cutting our hospitals, our police force and destroying our defence services, the money should stay at home. It’s not for the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron to pick our pockets and send money to charities of his choice.

“If I want to send money to charity, I will do it of my own accord, thank you.

“There are people in this country who can’t get treatment for cancer. There are people who are waiting in a queue for dialysis machines. All I’m saying is that money should stay at home. Charity begins at home.”

When questioned if he believed some people might be offended by his comments, as UK aid money helps people who are dying, Mr Bloom said: “I think I’m standing up for ordinary people at the pub, the cricket club, the rugby club, the sort of people who remain completely unrepresented under the political system we have.”

In response to suggestions people might not want to vote for a party that had a member who referred to ‘bongo bongo land’, Mr Bloom said: “We live in a free country, I’m a libertarian. Please don’t vote for me if you don’t agree with me. I wouldn’t expect you to. But if you’re fed up with £1 billion a month going abroad with no audit trail when we’re cutting our police and hospitals, vote for me.”

In the footage of his July speech at the meeting in Wordsley, near Stourbridge, Mr Bloom said: “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.”

Later in the speech, Mr Bloom railed against the European Court of Human Rights for ruling full life sentences could not be handed down.

He said: “You can torture people to death, but you jolly well can’t give them a full life sentence because that’s against their human rights.

“We can’t hang them because we’re now a member of the European Union and it’s embedded in the Treaty of Rome.

“It’s a personal thing, but I’d hang them myself. I do hope they would ask me to throw the rope over the beam because I’d be delighted to do so.”

Laura Pidcock, from campaign group Show Racism The Red Card, said: “What I can tell you is that, in the classrooms I visit as an anti-racism education worker, these crude stereotypes that see Britain as a civilised place and overseas as tribal is an extremely homogenising sentiment and I think it’s incredibly damaging.

“I think what Godfrey needs to understand is intention is irrelevant in defining the outcome of prejudice or the existence of prejudice, and, actually, who defines what political correctness is? Political correctness is not homogenising people, is not saying they are the ones who need to be civilised – they are still part of this colonial idea of bongo drums.

“Actually, he needs to understand it is highly offensive and what he meant by it isn’t important – it’s the outcome that’s important.”

Shadow international development secretary Rushanara Ali said: “These are an offensive and narrow-minded set of remarks. The British are among the most generous in the world and recognise Britain’s commitment to international development is both morally right and key to securing our future prosperity.

“If Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, is serious about getting rid of racism and intolerance in his party, he should take action against UKIP politicians who think it’s acceptable to refer to developing countries as bongo bongo land.”