I agree with Nigel – it’s time we stopped branding Ukip as racist. It lets the homophobes, the misogynists and the climate change deniers off the hook.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage recently found himself humiliated in what has been described as a ‘car-crash’ radio interview. Sadly, there was no literal car-crash due to those pesky EU bureaucrats imposing speed limit restrictions across the UK. However, by the interview’s conclusion, Farage had collided head on with LBC host James O’Brien. For an idea of the resulting damage think Smart car vs. the kind of eighteen-wheeler you’d see on Ice Road Truckers.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the whole debacle (and there are many) is the fact that Farage was quizzed on the most obvious of subjects: racism, expenses and his links to far-right European parties. Yet he still failed dramatically to convince. Was he sat with four pages of notes on radiography, England’s world cup squad and baking? It simply serves to highlight what an easy ride interviewers have given him thus far. Stock questions with stock sound bites – tit for tat. It was a different story here though.
In this respect he resembles Woody from Toy Story. Until now the media have simply been pulling his string and allowing his set phrases to spew forth with gusto. However, here, O’Brien convinced Farage that no humans were around and he came to life in the most detestable of ways.
It began when he was asked what the difference was between a Romanian family moving in next door and a “group of German children.” Farage’s response? “You know what the difference is.” Sorry Nigel but I really don’t, please could you clarify…yet before he could be pressed on this bizarre response he was talking about “an open invitation to the traffickers”. It seems that, in his swivel eyes at least, Romanians are traffickers whereas Germans are not.
Let’s flip the situation on its head. Imagine moving into a new home only to find that your neighbour is Farage. He’d be easily identifiable by the six meter fence topped with barbed wire representing the property line. If you were to kick a ball into his garden, he’d claim there were actually ten times as many balls coming over his fence on a daily basis. Next thing you know there are posters all over the street warning of a massive influx of footballs and how they’re only coming over to enjoy the greener grass without actually contributing to the garden in any way.
Queue the statement: ‘We are absolutely not a ballist party. We do not discriminate between balls. We hate them all equally- especially Ed Balls. Since 1980 British-made balls have declined rapidly as a result of, cheaper, foreign alternatives undercutting them. We must regain control of our property borders from these council mega-state bureaucrats.’
It would of course be easy to brand Farage as racist here. However, this interview proved revelatory in this respect. You see, Nigel Farage doesn’t actually know what racism is. I know; it all makes sense now. He quite literally asked O’Brien, “What is racism? Is racism between races?” He then continued “Is race about colour? Is race about race? Is it about nationality?” Yes Nigel, yes it is. This explains so much. For years he has been refuting allegations that his party is racist to the bemusement of all. However, he simply has no understanding of the term. “Racist? No! I like all races, the 100m, the 400m even the one with the bloody baton”.
That said he probably hates athletics as it involves many foreigners competing to cross a set border. Although a starting-gun at Calais and a photo-finish at Dover will most likely feature in Ukip’s forthcoming manifesto. The gun will of course be loaded – and aimed at the competitors…repeatedly.
Farage has also complained about “feeling awkward” when hearing a foreign language spoken on a train. Even though, as O’Brien has pointed out, his wife and children are native German speakers. When his wife phones home in German, perhaps Farage reacts like most Dads do when a slightly-too-graphic sex scene comes on during a film. He squirms, blushes, and then leaves the room before tamely asking: “anyone for a cuppa?”
There is a serious point to be made about this however. The Ukip leader referred to statistics that supposedly show a large amount of primary schools in London where a majority of the children do not speak English. Yet O’Brien quickly corrected Farage, highlighting how “the children you refer to are recorded as having English as a second language … Your own children would fit into that category”. This is by no means the only example of false statistics coming from Ukip. They have previously predicted an influx of over four million Bulgarians despite the fact that Bulgaria’s population is only seven million. It is shameless fear-mongering. Ukip represent a physical embodiment of much of the tabloid press. They try to divide and scare for their own profit and political-gain. It has worked before; we cannot allow it to work again.
It is frankly shocking how openly he manipulates and warps statistics to fit his argument. You may say that’s just what politicians do, but that’s exactly the point. Farage paints his party as outsiders, constantly bemoaning the ‘political establishment’. If more interviewers were to point out his lies and his fiction it would send a clear message; he is in fact no different than the rest. And this difference is undoubtedly a huge reason for Ukip’s current popularity.
The reality is of course that he embodies this very establishment. He failed six-times to become a Thatcherite MP, even branding himself as ‘the heir to Thatcher’. Yet many of the towns and cities that were obliterated during Thatcher’s government will be voting Ukip as a protest vote. Why? Because Farage has intelligently placed himself outside of the political class during a time of mass discontent. The electorate is understandably sick of being ignored, and Ukip appear to represent something new.
And they have played the role of outsider exceptionally well. Many of their votes will come from those looking for an alternative to the supposed ‘Big Three’, those who feel ignored by the Westminster bubble and those who are angry at recent scandals involving MP’s. Yet, when you consider their policies, it becomes clear that they are nothing new. They are in fact an ugly caricature of the political-elite. Expenses scandals? Check. A white, male, privately-educated, majority? Of course. If you believe in increasing political representation in Westminster then Ukip represent little more than a large leap backwards.
However, the truth is that the idiotic comments made by Ukip members have rendered their policies secondary. It’s time we started treating Ukip as we treat the other political parties; their polling figures certainly suggest that they warrant it. For example, a YouGov poll conducted last week concluded that ‘at least 60% of the public say they ‘don’t know anything’ about UKIP’s policies on key issues such as the economy and NHS. Why? Because they have minimal policy to understand.
Recently on Newsnight Farage suggested that Ukip didn’t need an economic policy for European or local elections, and that “all would be revealed” when they draw up their manifesto for 2015. He also made it clear that Ukip would be providing no domestic policy, despite fielding nearly 2,000 candidates in local elections across the country. How can anyone be expected to vote for a blank page?
The policies that they do have (or have at least considered) are telling. Hugely increasing defence spending, privatisating public services and abolishing the minimum-wage and maternity pay would surely offset many voters. Let’s hope that these become as well-publicised as their comments in the run up to 2015.