Borderline Racists


UKIP is not just a populist Eurosceptic party. Far right from it. 

Is UKIP less radical than Marine Le Pen’s “Front National”? Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, certainly thinks so and does not want to have anything to do with her. Most inhabitants of the United Kingdom like to think so, too. It’s just too painful to admit the truth.

Sorry, but it cannot continue like this.

A closer look at UKIP’s program, the beliefs and statements of its candidates and council men reveals: UKIP is not only a Eurosceptic right populist party. It is deeply xenophobic and it has plenty of extreme elements in its policies and among its elected members of councils. UKIP got 28 percent of the vote in the EU elections last week. Britain is now waking up to the fact that a good quarter of the population is willing to vote for a party which promotes hatred against Europe. And against immigrants. On a roof in Shoreditch, East London, someone sprayed: “UKIP – Borderline Racists”

According to a recent opinion poll, which the Guardian just published, 30% of the British population admits having some sort of racial prejudice. Among managers the figure is lower with 26%, unskilled workers are with 41% the biggest racists. The “Guardian” quoted from data taken of a BSA survey, carried out by NatCen Social Research, which will be officially published only next month.

The electoral victory of UKIP comes as no surprise. The UKIP manifesto for local elections mentions everything that the frustrated public likes to hear: “Immigration must be controlled to relieve pressure on our health, education, housing and welfare services”, “council tax should be as low as possible” and “money should be used for local services and not …for foreign wars”. UKIP not only campaigns for leaving the European Union, it also questions that there is global warming and thinks wind farms should not be allowed.

But the written UKIP manifesto sounds sane compared to the spoken word. Newly elected council man Dave Small referred to gays as “perverts” and Romanian immigrants as “scroungers” on his Facebook page the day after the local elections last Thursday. Mr. Small now faces a disciplinary hearing. But this is not the first and will not be the last case of racist, inciting comments coming from UKIP.

These incidents are not the exception. They are the norm. UKIP member Ken Chapman used the term “Zulu” for a black man. According to an investigation by the “Daily Mirror” he suggested on Twitter that Islam should be “wiped out”. Robert Brown, UKIP councilor in Ramsey, labeled Islam and Muslims “evil” and called on them to convert to Christianity. UKIP candidate Joseph Qirk posted anti-semitic postings claiming Jewish bankers financed Hitler. Roger Helmer, who was just elected to the European Parliament, told “The Sun” that it was morally acceptable to prefer heterosexuality over homosexuality: “You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it, if you don’t like it.” There are plenty of sexist remarks, too. Austin Lucas, standing for UKIP in Liverpool, thought it was good that some Cossacks in Russia whipped members of the punk group “Pussy Riot”: “Can we please import some Cossacks to clean up our city centres?”

There is a lot of hatred out there on the streets of Britain and a big part gets channeled into votes for UKIP. "The party I founded has become a Frankenstein's monster," says Alan Sked, who founded UKIP in 1993 and who works today at the “London School of Economics”. In an interview with the “Guardian” he recounts that he wanted UKIP to promote the withdrawal from the EU. The original membership form read: "It is a non-sectarian, non-racist party with no prejudices against foreigners or lawful minorities of any kind.” This has changed. Nigel Farage himself is no stranger to xenophobic emotions. He recently admitted to feeling “uncomfortable” when thinking of having Romanian neighbours.

Simon Hix of the “London School of Economics” explains the three segments of British society which are UKIP’s breeding ground: 1) The Urban underclass was sympathetic towards the British National Party (BNP), but since it collapsed UKIP absorbed these voters. 2) The rural middle class likes to vote for UKIP today, because they feel disgruntled with the Tories, who they see as party of the posh boys David Cameron und George Osborne. 3) Building and seasonal agricultural workers also converted to UKIP, their vote went from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair to UKIP.

What does the rise of UKIP mean in terms of the national elections in 2015? Not much, says Patrick Dunleavy of “London School of Economics”: “UKIP might not win any seats in parliament next year.” They might consistently get 15 percent of the popular vote in general elections, but nowhere will they come first – thanks to the British First-past-the-post election system, where the winner takes all. It is not even sure that Nigel Farage himself will get elected.

But even if Britain’s electoral system prevents small parties from coming into the House of Commons – the fact that UKIP politicians know they have a third of the population behind them when they incite against immigrants, should be deeply worrying to anyone in the United Kingdom.

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz