Back in November 2011, Ukip posted a video on YouTube in which Nigel Farage tried to knock on the head the notion that Ukip was a “whites only” party – propagated, he said, by The Independent and The Guardian – which was peopled by “very angry old men.” As evidence, he produced an 18-year-old named Sanya-Jeet Thandi, who had taken that autumn’s Ukip conference by storm. “A rising star of the party,” he called her.
As such, she was on Channel 4 only this month defending Ukip’s immigration policies, on the grounds that Ukip would give equal treatment to all would-be immigrants while the EU favours EU citizens.
But Sanya-Jeet Thandi is a rising star of Ukip no more. She has quit in disgust at the anti-immigrant campaign Ukip is now running. “Ukip is exploiting the stupidity of ignorant anti-immigrant voters for electoral gain,” she wrote. “While the party deliberately attracts the racist vote I refuse to be associated with them.”
The events of the past couple of days have also raised questions about how much certain members of Ukip value free speech. Janice Atkinson, who chairs the party in the South-east, thinks protesters who shout “fascist” at Ukip members should be arrested. And an unidentified councillor sent for the police because he objected to a tweet posted by a Green blogger, Michael Abberton, lampooning Ukip policy. Finally, the Camden New Journal recorded a Ukip candidate in West Hampstead, Magnus Neilsen, reflecting that the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1888, which extended the vote to working-class men, may have been a mistake.
But there is a group of Ukip activists who value free expression – their own, if no one else’s. Protesting against the treatment of “hard-working, right-thinking, garage-owning Brits”, they have been busy in Cambridge decorating the doors of a row of garages with large black vinyl letters spelling out the words “Farage garage” – which they presumably pronounce so that the two words rhyme, though some of us make Farage rhyme with barrage and garage with carriage.
The letters were easily removed without damage to the doors, but when Cambridge News asked Ukip’s Cambridge branch chairman, Peter Burkinshaw, what he thought of this stunt, he replied: “I hate graffiti of all kinds. I think these messages should be illegal.” Spoken like a true Ukipper.
Voters in Croydon, in south London, have noticed an odd omission from an advertisement in their local freesheet. It is from the local Conservatives and lists their candidates in 23 wards in the borough, but not the 24th, West Thornton, although they have three candidates on the ballot paper there. West Thornton is a Labour ward, where one of the Labour candidates is Emily Benn, granddaughter of the late Tony Benn.
Pippa’s body blow
What a shock it was to read in the Press Gazette that The Daily Telegraph had dropped its star columnist Pippa Middleton because, allegedly, the readers did not rate her and the columns “ran out of ideas” for subjects that Prince William’s sister-in-law could safely cover.
I mean, who could fail to be stirred by Ms Middleton’s incisive thoughts on Pancake Day – “savoury versions aren’t my first choice. I’m more of a crêpe Suzette girl, especially after a day’s skiing”; or the circus – “Of course, the potential for accidents is huge but injuries rarely happen”; or cocktails – “The best thing about learning to mix cocktails is that you get to drink what you make.”
It’s a body blow to contemporary journalism.