Watch: Godfrey Bloom mocks disabled student, asks "are you Richard III?" during debate

The former UKIP MEP resorts to ableism during a debate at the Oxford Union.

Last week (23 January) the Oxford Union hosted a debate - motion: "This House Believes postwar Britain has seen too much immigration" - between Lord Singh, Nadhim Zahawi MP and author Monica Ali on one side, and Douglas Murray and former UKIP (now independent) MEP Godfrey Bloom on the other. 

David Browne, a student, took the the microphone to make a statement opposed to the motion, but before he could begin he was interrupted by Bloom making a point of order to ask "are you Richard III or not" (a clear reference to Browne's disability). Browne, unfazed, replied with a quote from Margaret Thatcher: "I am always quite flattered when people insist on personal attacks on their opponents because it just demonstrates they have run out of arguments."

(It's also worth pointing out how many people laughed at Bloom's "joke", because from the way the incident's been reported elsewhere it might seem like he wasn't playing to an audience happy to lap up that kind of ableist crap.)

The incident so appalled Douglas Murray that he blogged afterwards to call it "a gruesome moment – ghastly, disgraceful and deeply telling of Mr Bloom". Somehow, considering this is a man whose response to being asked about his party's lack of members from ethnic minorities is to hit the journalist who asked the question, it seems unlikely Bloom will feel much remorse. 

I'm a mole, innit.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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