NIGEL FARAGE AND UKIP’S BIGOTED POPULISM
Nigel Farage continues to insist that we should be worried if Romanians move in next door (Farage remarks branded racist by three senior Labour figures, 20 May), while YouGov finds that 51% of Ukip voters think immigrants and their families (including those born here) should be encouraged to leave Britain. This merely confirms what was already obvious, yet apparently needs to be spelled out: Ukip is a party that spreads and feeds off racism and xenophobia.
For many years the rightwing tabloids have waged a campaign of hysteria about asylum and immigration, while both main political parties have either contributed or pandered to an increasingly fact-free discourse based on the prejudiced assumption that foreigners are a burden on society. The emboldening of Ukip’s bigoted populism is just one of the entirely predictable consequences of this trend.
The class represented by Ukip’s millionaire backers and personified by its leader – a public-school-educated former City trader and professional politician – has a vested interest in diverting social and economic anxieties away from the rich and powerful and towards our friends and neighbours. If the elite-fuelled resurgence of racism and xenophobia is not confronted now, the consequences will become uglier still.
“The sheer offensiveness of his comments aside, Nigel Farage digs himself into an ever bigger hole over migration from Romania. His claim that UK authorities cannot do anything about Romanian criminal gangs is simply untrue. States can expel any citizen of another EU state on public policy grounds (article 27(1), directive 2004/38). The case law is also quite clear. Membership of an organised criminal gang comfortably constitutes such a ground. Furthermore, member states can also ask for the police records of anybody entering their territory any time within the first three months of arrival to check if they belong to such a gang.”
“In fact, leaving the EU might well result in the United Kingdom being more vulnerable to such gangs. Gangs from outside the European Union do, indeed, operate in the United Kingdom. Without information from other national authorities or EU agencies such as Europol, it is harder to know, for example, their members and who, therefore, it is safe to admit onto British territory.”
Professor Damian Chalmers
London School of Economics and Political Science
“Last year in a post office in Arad, Romania, a Romanian not only offered to help us, in excellent English, to buy stamps but then entertained us with coffee and cakes in his home, welcoming us to his fascinating and beautiful country. He was happy, he told us, to reciprocate the hospitality he had received when working in the UK. I just wanted to mention it.”
“When large sections of the media view politics as entertainment, it is hardly surprising that the big personalities like Nigel Farage will get attention while parties like the Greens with their more reasonable spokespeople are sidelined (Support for the Greens is surging – haven’t you heard?, 21 May). I don’t know whether Farage is simply a self-promoting showman or something more sinister, but when it comes to the three leaders of the main political parties they struggle to compete with his apparent ‘man of the people’ persona because he generally gives straight answers and, however ridiculous, inaccurate and objectionable his statements, they come across as spontaneous and sincere. The fact that he is not afraid to put his foot in it on occasion is part of his appeal. I frequently find myself squirming with embarrassment when Clegg, Cameron and Miliband and the rest of the Westminster clones tie themselves up in knots avoiding straight answers and put all their energy into ramming home the target number of soundbites set by their spin doctors for that day’s interview. The current popularity of Ukip should be a wake-up call for the rest. It has a lot to do with presentation not just policies.”