At the start of December, Yorkshire & Humber MEP Godfrey Bloom wrote an article defending his involvement with the European Alliance of Freedom (EAF), a pan-European political party which includes far-right parties from across Europe. Despite Bloom’s active involvement in the EAF, UKIP has a policy of not joining pan-European political parties. He argued that the party, whose executive include the French Front National, Belgian Vlaams Belang and Austrian Freedom Party, are solely united by their euro scepticism.
However, he then admitted to sharing “a glass of wine a few times a year with Marine le Pen” saying she was a ‘protectionist and socialist’.
Marine Le Pen is the leader of the Front National in France, and the daughter of its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been convicted of racism of inciting racial hatred at least six times. In 2010, Marine Le Pen compared Muslims praying in France to Nazi occupiers, and when challenged said “My comments were absolutely not a blunder, but a completely thought-out analysis.”
Godfrey Bloom was chair of the EAF until last month, when a new board was announced at a press conference in the European Parliament. The new chair is Franz Obermayr from the Austrian Freedom Party, and Marine Le Pen and Belgian MEP Philip Claeys are co-Presidents. Fellow board member is Kent Ekeroth, an MP for the Swedish Democrats.
The leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, was roundly condemned in August this year for posting a cartoon on Facebook similar to anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda. A former FPÖ official is currently facing criminal charges for campaign literature with the slogan “Love your home country instead of Moroccan thieves”.
Kent Ekeroth is currently ‘taking a break’ from the Swedish Democrats, after footage of him and several key Swedish Democrat politicians on a drunken racist rampage was leaked to the press. The Swedish Democrats also hit the headlines for recently sending a schoolboy a web link showing decapitated bodies in response to a request for their views on Islam.
Philip Claeys is a member of Vlaams Belang, a Flemish separatist party established after its previous incarnation, Vlaams Blok, was dissolved in 2004 for violating race hatred laws. Recent Vlaams Belang campaign literature included a picture of a white sheep kicking a Moroccan Muslim sheep out of Europe.
Bloom appears to have closer views to his fellow EAF members than he admits. He referred to ‘dim-witted Johnny Asiatic’ in a recent article on trade tariffs on Chinese pottery, and was ejected from the parliamentary chamber for shouting Nazi slogans at a German MEP in 2010.
Bloom also stood for UKIP in Humberside for the Police & Crime Commissioner elections in November, coming fourth with 16.06% of the vote.
Mary Honeyball is a Labour MEP for London