We know Godfrey Bloom's an idiot, but what about those laughing at his Richard III joke?

What bothered me is that so many of the assembled thought abuse towards disabled people was funny

James Moore
Monday 27 January 2014 17:59
Godfrey Bloom
Godfrey Bloom

If I worked at Conservative Central Office I’d have got my Ukip election strategy nailed by now. It’s simple: just run a series of pictures of Godfrey Bloom alongside a selection of his quotes.

From his comment on 'bongo bongo land', to calling out 'sluts' who don't clean behind the fridge, every time he opens his mouth he provides the a picture perfect illustration of why voting Ukip is a thoroughly bad idea.

He was at it again last week during a debate on immigration (he’s against it) held at the Oxford Union when he mocked a student - David Browne - with an apparent disability by standing up and asking if he was Richard III.

It was an obvious, and mean spirited, attempt to draw a comparison between Mr Browne’s appearance and Shakespeare’s libellous portrayal of the Yorkist king. But that wasn’t what disturbed me about this nasty little moment.

Now, as has been been widely reported, Bloom was quite brilliantly slapped down by Mr Browne. He did it by quoting a heroine of the right, the late Lady Thatcher, by saying he was flattered by personal attacks from his opponents because “it just demonstrates that they have run out of arguments”. He was greeted with loud cheers.

But what hasn’t received so much attention is this happened only after Bloom’s ugly intervention had provoked loud guffaws from some of the yahoos in the audience.

You can watch it here, if you have a strong stomach.

What bothered me was that so many of the assembled thought such witless abuse was funny. I fear it was yet another demonstration of the fact that the disabled are “fair game”.

That it’s OK to abuse people with disabilities just because they have disabilities.

You know what you are getting with Bloom. He is, as Douglas Murray has written in the Spectator, both a bore and a boor.

But it isn’t as if we haven’t been here before. A couple of years ago it was Labour MPs who were at it, abusing Paul Maynard, a Tory who suffers from cerebral palsy.

That is why what I found disturbing is sheer the number of people who apparently share, at least in part, Bloom’s neolithic attitudes.

As I said, it seems that we (I write as a disabled journalist) are fair game because it isn’t just acknowledged kooks like Bloom who delight in chucking bricks at us.

At the start of the above video there appears a graphic bearing the legend “Oxford Union Society 1823 - People Who Shape Our World”.

It’s clear to me that some of the Union’s members haven’t moved on much from when it was founded. If they really are the sort of people who “shape our world” then I fear it is going to become an ugly place indeed.

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