Nigel Farage is not, in the strictest sense, incorrect to say that MEP Steven Woolf being hospitalised after a disagreement is “one of those things that happens between men”. Violence piercing through our everyday civility is, indeed, something “that happens”. And women are patently not, once the red mists of idiocy descend, above chucking a punch either – or going all “handbags at dawn”, as Mike Hookem has since described the incident.
Violence erupts where logic, control and compassion have changed frequency to the clumsy self-soothing of a fragile ego. Farage hopes, it seems, to write off the Woolfe/Hookem incident by lumping it in with all the other common flare-ups of modern life that honest decent British folk are familiar with: cyclists versus taxi drivers, public transport rush-hour square-ups, whatever occurred before that yellow sign popped up on the street corner requesting information over a dead teenager. And now MEPs Woolf and Mike Hookem locking horns over Ukip’s leadership and Woolfe’s supposed ambitions leading to one of the pair in a Strasbourg hospital with a suspected brain bleed. Awful, but what can you do?
Aside from the vaguely delicious irony of two European “fat cat” hating men still seeming to be firmly ensconced in post-Brexit Strasbourg, still riding that gravy train, and now availing themselves of Europe’s splendid health care, there is little which isn’t completely depressing here. What Farage should have said when asked about Woolfe and Hookem was that violence may “happen” in society but has no place at all, ever, in politics. He may have waxed lyrical about the idea that we became political as human beings to reduce violence and misery. Farage might have said that as tempting as it may feel while in the grip of fury, injustice and smite to go ahead and punch someone thwarting your ambitions or trampling your beliefs, the one thing saving Britain from mass bloodshed is calm, orderly politics.
The polling booth, the snoozesome council meeting and the tap on the front door from the diligent type in a rosette hoping to gauge your views on local issues: none of these should be battle-grounds. Farage turning any sort of blind eye to people being hospitalised due to political differences is a particularly slippery slope. Why is Farage always on this slope? Why is he always chief slippery slope supervisor? It is 100 short days since Farage humiliated Britain with his “You’re not laughing now” speech in which he informed men such as MEP Vytenis Andriukaitis, the Legion d’Honneur-awarded cardiac, trauma and battlefield surgeon, that he had “never done a day’s work” in his life. Now here he is again informing the world’s press that a brain scan here and a double seizure there is simply the British political way.
At a more subtle level, Farage’s writing off of violence as an inevitable part of masculinity – he did not say people, just men, after all – is not just outdated, but dangerous. Almost every parent to young boys wrestles with the worry. Their boy may not be remotely violent, or even traditionally “masculine”, but society seems to say it would be better if he toughened himself up and learned to be violent to his peers to at least have a fighting chance of survival.
Parents know that one of the things most likely to kill their little boy is random, stupid, unplanned violence. The chase home after the pub resulting in a stabbing. The head smashed on a nightclub curb over a mistaken dirty look. The martial-arts kick over a stolen girlfriend. The road rage incident. The son who doesn’t come home from the foreign football match. The son who comes home from Benidorm in a body-bag. The little boy who doesn’t like the other little boy’s success which leads to one of them having a double seizure. These are all some of those stupid things that “happen between men” – but the political classes should lead by example.Reuse content