Don’t be fooled by Ukip’s charm, it is xenophobic and creates fear

The ugly truth is that Farage and his gang are encouraging the hatred of the outsider

Share

Cheeky charmer Jamie Oliver adds his bit to spice up the appeal of Ukip.

It pleases him that the party is “stirring it up” though admits he is clueless about its policies and anyway doesn’t really support them. We knew the chef was a keen and sometimes effective do-gooder, but not that he was a political ignoramus. How do you indirectly endorse a political movement without knowing what it stands for? Many voters and media cheerleaders are similarly tickled by Ukip’s idiosyncrasy and “pluck” and believe its dubious claims of originality and antiestablishmentarianism. A poll by YouGov found only 10 per cent or less backed Ukip because they thought it would run the country well. More than 60 per cent did so to send a message that they were unhappy with mainstream politicians. 

Now that the party has done better than expected, all the other political parties are running scared towards it. David Cameron, Ken Clarke and a few others who did valiantly try to condemn or dismiss the crudely right-wing, anti-European maniacs have fallen silent or feel compelled to mouth placatory words which must taste bitter.

I was on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? this week, broadcast from Keele University in Staffordshire, where Ukip got 24 per cent of the vote. I was a little apprehensive of how the audience would react if I spoke up honestly against this so-called breakthrough. The question did come up and I queried some oft-quoted statistics. Only 32 per cent of those eligible to vote came out to cast their ballots. Twenty-five per cent of 32 per cent is around 8 per cent. So, 92 per cent either didn’t bother at all or did not vote for Ukip. Yet this tiny number is spooking and bullying all the other parties, which are allowing themselves to be spooked and bullied. To my astonishment, most of the audience applauded, did so again and again when I defended immigrants and the EU. One of the other panellists was Christine Hamilton. When we had dinner earlier, she was entertaining, warm and funny. Now a member of Ukip, she is an example of how likeable some of them are. And that may be one of the secrets of their undeserved, small surge.

Nigel Farage is a public schoolboy, an erstwhile City trader, the sort of chap millions of Britons have come to despise after the financial crash. But with chutzpah, an excellent gentlemen’s outfitter, fair media winds and a disarming smile permanently fixed on his face, he is seen as exemplary, honest, plain-speaking, a saviour even though his promises are worth less than the wrapping on his fancy cigars. Trust me, when you disagree with him and no-one is watching, that smile turns into a canine snarl and bite. He went for me once on a programme on LBC, his mouth unleashing brutish insults and I threatened to leave the studio unless he apologised. He did apologise, and behaved tolerably well after that. If journalists probed and contradicted him more we would see the real Farage. But like Boris, he is a media darling, adored, fun and untouchable.

The ugly truth is that Farage and his gang are encouraging the hatred of the outsider, blaming them for all ills, just as the BNP and NF did in their time. Poor Nick Griffin must be bursting with envy and wrath to see the upstarts winning hearts and minds which recoil from good, honest Fascism. Immigrants and the EU did not create the economic crash and crisis and did not impose painful cuts to benefits; migrants use our services and also work hard to provide those services in the public and private sectors; most pay taxes and are happy that some of the money goes to indigenous Britons who can’t or won’t work. It may be cunning and clever of Ukip to use these recessionary times to whip up animosity against “alien” interlopers. But it is morally repugnant and makes us all unsafe. Think of how people were incited to turn against those unlike themselves in Bosnia before the war, or Germany in the 1930s. Think and be afraid, very afraid.

Let me say, loudly and clearly, that not all the men and women now attracted to Ukip are die-hard racists or Fascists. But they must know or need to know that some of the values and people attached to this party are xenophobic and deeply reactionary. Sorry, it’s not good enough to say, “I voted for them just to show the others,” or, “I don’t agree with some of their policies but I want them to kick Westminster insiders. My vote is against politics.” These are real statements made to me after the council elections. The first person was a British Asian from Malawi, a businessman who failed to get selected for a seat by the Lib-Dems. The second was a retired pilot, a lonely widower, who spends a lot of time writing furious letters to newspapers, also local and national politicians, letters which are unanswered and unacknowledged which makes him more angry. Neither of these men expressed xenophobic views. But they had thrown their vote to a party where those views are held and unchallenged. Yes, I know, they have Jamaican immigrant Winston McKenzie, a former boxer, as a spokesman. He fancies blondes and hates the EU. A perfect mascot.

So let’s check out Ukip’s other, known, policies. McKenzie thinks gay parenting is “unhealthy” and “abuse”; the party wants the UK to be rid of minimum wages and worker protection and “elf&safety” rubbish; it is libertarian, does not believe in climate change, wants the lowest of taxes and a small state, which means cutting funds for health and education.

This time Ukip was aided and abetted by cowardice, complicity and inertia. Now politicians must find gumption and take on this malevolent force which is exploiting understandable public fears. Journalists, too, need to take Farage seriously and interrogate him as they do other politicians. The ultra-regressive Tea Party in the United States was seen off by incisive opponents. Ukip can and must be too.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Parts Manager

£27300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a leading...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Customer Service Advisor

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading boiler ...

Recruitment Genius: International Customer Service Administrators

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea