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18 December 2017

Can Godfrey Bloom possibly be that stupid?

Oh, good, some sinister code.

By Jonn Elledge

I’m starting to suspect that these guys know exactly what they are doing.

When a pro-Brexit ex-politician describes Goldman Sachs as an “international Jewish Bank”, and so taps into well over a century of anti-Semitic code, it’s tempting to assume that he’s simply a moron.

Godfrey Bloom, after all, has form for public displays of stupidity. It was he, in the summer of 2013, who described the recipients of British foreign aid as “bongo bongo land”, a behaviour so idiotic that it immediately renders all attempts at satirising it superfluous.

At that year’s UKIP conference, he called journalist Michael Crick a racist for asking about the predominance of white faces on the party’s conference brochure, before proceeding to whack him around the head with it, even as the cameras rolled. Later that week, he cemented his reputation, by announcing that at a women’s fringe event was “full of sluts”, noting, with mock innocence, that this was simply an old-fashioned word for those who don’t take adequate care of their homes.

It really takes some going to be so offensive that even UKIP will withdraw the whip, but somehow Godders managed it, and at the 2014 European elections – an absolute boon for UKIP, which became the first party other than Labour or the Tories to top a national poll since 1906 – Bloom was forced to watch from the sidelines. This was bad luck for him because, as any Nigel Farage knows, being a member of the European Parliament is paid terribly well and doesn’t have to involve much work.

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At any rate: Bloom is not obviously an intellectual giant, and his decision on Twitter to award himself the title “professor” has served mainly to highlight rather than ameliorate this fact. So it is at least possible that he doesn’t realise that accusing an “international Jewish Bank” of interfering in British politics inevitably brings to mind earlier times when other right-wing politicians spoke of the danger international Jewish organisations posed to decent, Christian countries.

But then again, perhaps it isn’t. Because in a later tweet, Bloom claimed the fact that Goldman Sachs is a “Jewish bank” was “confirmed by Wikipedia”, despite the fact that word “Jewish” does not appear anywhere on the bank’s Wikipedia page. It is possible he’s been reading the Wikipedia page for the Goldman-Sachs family, who founded the bank – but at the point he’s been reading that, his behaviour strikes me as creepy in a whole new way.

At any rate, the options here are quite limited. Either, Godfrey Bloom is so ignorant of European history that he doesn’t realise how sinister his use of the phrase “international Jewish bank” would look. Or perhaps, he knew exactly what he was doing, how that phrase would be read, who would be offended and to whom it would give comfort. Perhaps he knew all these things – and he simply didn’t care.