1. Godfrey Bloom MEP compared a student to the disabled King Richard III during an Oxford Union.
Bloom, who no longer represents UKIP in the European parliament but remains a party member, made the comment during Thursday’s immigration debate at the Oxford Union – a society open to members of Oxford university.
David Browne, a second year student who describes himself as having “a mild disability”, was opposing the motion.
Within seconds of standing up he was interrupted by Bloom – best known his comments on Bongo Bongo Land – asking “are you Richard III, or not?”
2. At first this raised laughter and applause from the audience.
3. But Browne told BuzzFeed that he was offended by the remark.
I wasn’t entirely sure what he was referring to but am well aware of Richard III’s portrayal in Shakespeare. I was offended by the remark on that basis but most of the audience seem to have been more outraged than I was. Certainly, I don’t think it was a very nice thing to say, but I was determined that I wouldn’t let it lower the tone of the drinks reception after the debate, which I thoroughly enjoyed; my order paper is now signed by every speaker at the debate.
I have a mild disability. That much is a fact although it does not prevent me doing many things able-bodied people can do and I tend not to self-identify as disabled. Bloom has claimed the comment was about my appearance, a view that has been expressed to me since the debate, but I think it should have been obvious that the remark could go the other way, and it clearly did judging by the chamber’s reaction.
5. That said, he still wants people to listen to Bloom.
Mr. Bloom is a very interesting man. Although he has made many unacceptable gaffes, and I disagree with many of his views such as those on climate change, commercialised healthcare and capital punishment, I think he deserves to be taken seriously and engaged with by supporters and opponents alike.
6. Meanwhile Bloom told The Oxford Tab that he would apologise following the evening’s events.
I will make one apology, my first in 10 years of politics, I am genuinely sorry I could not accept his kind invitation and indeed the rest of you, to continue the party at ‘The Bridge’. One o’clock in the morning is quite enough for this old geezer.