Thursday, July 22, 2004

UKIP's Bloom: a character type

The UKIP (or Swivel-Eyed Loons, as blogging SOPs oblige me to call them)'s Godfrey Bloom, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber has made a fool of himself by trying to get on to the European Parliament's women's rights committee despite his obvious handicap. To the obvious handicap he lost no time in adding several more that might not have been obvious at first sight: that he's an arrogant, misogynistic and childish little get. Mr Bloom declared that he wanted "to deal with women's issues because I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough", and further explained that he was "going to promote men's rights".

Exactly what these might be was clarified when he went on to state that he "was here to represent Yorkshire women, who always have dinner on the table when you get home". (Note: the comma is the Guardian's. I'm not sure if the last 11 words were originally a relative clause, in which case all Yorkshire women by definition have dinner on the table etc etc, or if they are a run-on sentence, in which case he only represents those Yorkshire women who etc etc and no others. I suspect in the latter case such women would probably agree that he didn't represent them.) In a further effort to get out his philosophy, he stated that "the more women's rights you have, it's actually a bar to their employment...(ed: never mind the grammar)...no self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age".

Strange. If that's a matter of "men's rights", I suppose Bloom believes that anyone who has a small business is a man. How odd. Mind you, one criticism that can never be aimed at Bloom, unlike his party leader, is a vague grasp of policy.
"Mr Bloom explained that he would like to overturn EU maternity legislation if his position allowed. He said maternity laws that gave women six months of paid leave and the option of another six months unpaid leave, had resulted in women losing jobs and employment. Many businesses only employed women over 40, he said."
How did he get that way? The answer is in the widely published photo of him, which sadly is unavailable on the web. Fat-faced, he stands in a boxy black suit and a glaring yellow tie with a huge knot, armed with an old-fashioned and clearly expensive briefcase and, dear God, a bowler hat. To those familiar with Yorkshire, the signs are all there.

There is a particular kind of Yorkshireman who expresses all the stereotyped characteristics to excess - plain speaking is taken to the level of pointless verbal brutality, pride to arrogance, hard work to an obsession with money, respect for tradition to philistine provincialism. The type is usually found somewhere in the triangle York-Harrogate-Leeds, often talking extremely loudly in a pub, bar or other place of entertainment aimed up-market. He (it always seems to be he) has his own peculiar variant of the dialect, the vowels squeezed into a compromise between Yorkshire and the south, and his own distinctive style. This combines ultraconservatism with lavish expense and a gadget fetish. He may dress like a City lawyer in 1953, and spend a fortune to look like that, but he will use a mobile phone more powerful than his own brain and insist on telling you all about it. 15 years ago he would have driven a Rolls Royce. Now it will either be an extravagant sports car in lurid tones or a gigantic Range Rover in British Racing Green. He reads the Yorkshire Post and considers the national press effeminate, with the occasional exception of the mighty FT when he visits London. He is either in business or else, the law, and can be found sweating menacingly down his braces as he lumps in an office chair.

Politically, it goes without saying, he is tribally conservative. Although his natural habitat is urban or suburban (see above), he likes to seem countrified. He is driven into a rage by the abolition of foxhunting but has very likely never hunted. His anti-Europeanism is intense. He enjoys aggressive, boozy socialising and machismo, and this marks his political views. Everything is the fault of someone else, preferably a foreigner. In groups they can poison the atmosphere of an entire pub in seconds, swilling ale, braying, tormenting the barmaid, spilling ale and lumbering against bystanders. It is similar to the southern, rugby union and rowing, hooray but with the distinction that these don't grow out of it - they behave like this from 16 to death or incapacity. Just the budget and hence the locale alters. Politically they are much like that, as Bloom has neatly shown, blundering aggressively about blurting unacceptable nonsense and telling jokes in catastrophically bad taste, before bleating if they encounter superior force.

The key to understanding him is that he and his brothers are the only social group who try to be nouveau riche, even when they are not. Taken individually, they can usually control themselves up to a point. They are unlikely, despite telling nigger jokes at the drop of a hat, to disgrace themselves if put to the test. But in the security of the herd, they become a menace.

2 comments:

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