Godfrey Bloom is a prat. That much was clear, even before this week’s incident (BBC, Wikipedia) where he referred to Martin Schulz, leader of the socialists in the European Parliament with the words “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer”. This after all is the MEP best known until this week for his comments about women cleaning behind the fridge. This is the video of the Schulz-Bloom incident (plays from the correct point):
Conversely, Martin Schulz is a nasty, tub-thumping, selfish, hectoring politician, motivated more by his desire to be President of the European Parliament than anything else as far as I can tell. I’ve expressed my dislike of the man in the past. Yet Schulz, the wronged party in the incident with Bloom, also once heckled a Dutch far right MEP Daniël van der Stoep, calling him a fascist, and was not asked to apologise and subsequently reprimanded in the same way by the President of the European Parliament. Video of that incident (plays from the correct point):
So what’s going on here?
Firstly, both of them are idiots, and behaved inappropriately. Calling others fascists, der Führer etc. in the chamber is offensive and unnecessary. However offensive Bloom, Schulz or van der Stoep are, nothing should prompt any politician to use those words.
Secondly, Schulz gets away with it because he represents the political mainstream and Bloom and van der Stoep do not. Essentially Schulz has more friends and gets treated differently. Just listen to Guy Verhofstadt’s comments backing Schulz. This plays right into the hands of the loopy folks on the political fringes – they seek to present the political mainstream as conspiring against them, and this incident looks like precisely that is happening. Jerzy Buzek, the essentially decent President of the EP, needs to make sure everyone is dealt with fairly and reasonably. Buzek, let’s not forget, was the EU politician who gave the most positive support for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo for example.
Thirdly, it’s much better to take apart Schulz with some humour and cunning, rather that resorting to Bloom’s xenophobia. He should take a leaf out of Danny Cohn Bendit’s book.
Laura Shields has written a post about the protagonists’ use of language – interesting thoughts, but I think she overestimates Bloom’s ability to think before he speaks!