Behind Ukip's smiling face

November 24, 2016 23:25

'I don't care what you call us," declared Nigel Farage at a Ukip rally last year, "but from this moment on, please, do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party."

What sort of party needs to declare that it's not racist? The answer is unmysterious: one that reliably attracts the support of racists.

That's what Ukip does. Racists join the party because they recognise where their interests lie. They are making a rational choice, for Ukip exemplifies xenophobia even while disclaiming it.

The voice of British Jewry ought to be clear just weeks before the general election. Ukip's values are alien to those of this community and this newspaper.

The recent BBC documentary Meet the Ukippers shows the party in microcosm, in the Kent constituency that Mr Farage will contest in May. Rozanne Duncan, a Ukip councillor, tells the party's press officer: "The only people I do have a problem with are negroes… I really do have a problem with people with negroid features." For good measure, she adds that Jews "have usually got noses that have got a bit of curve to them".

She was expressing views common among Ukip supporters

Meanwhile, the local chairman is indignant at being held to account for his past membership of the National Front.

Mrs Duncan has since been expelled from Ukip. Yet it's clear from the broadcast comments of the hapless press officer what her misdemeanour was: she should have kept her mouth shut. Mrs Duncan was, in short, being impolitic rather than indecent. It's hardly surprising that Mrs Duncan has since waxed indignant about the unfairness of her expulsion: she was, after all, expressing views that are common among Ukip's supporters.

Am I being unfair in singling out these cases? Not at all. Ukip's alliances evince a party at ease with bigotry. After the European elections last year, Ukip MEPs joined with a member of a Polish far-right party to qualify as a group for funding.

This was the Congress of the New Right, whose leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, has said that Jews are "our worst enemies, because they are talented communists".

Ukip's approach to the world is consistently on the side of atavistic forces. Mr Farage last year declared Vladimir Putin to be the world leader he most admired, and demanded that the West form an alliance with Russia to combat Islamist extremism. Does it need to be said that Putin's most reliable ally in western Europe is the National Front in France, which recently received a €9 million loan from a bank with links to the Kremlin?

Mr Farage declares his support for Israel but his party's ethos is not that of the pluralism that Zionism espouses.

I debated with him 18 months ago, at the Cheltenham literary festival, on Britain's membership of the EU. I found, as would surely be conceded by even his closest friends, that a command of technical economic detail is not Mr Farage's most salient characteristic.

He compensated for this deficiency by shouting ominously about the potential 29 million immigrants that Britain would face from Bulgaria and Romania in 2014 - which is more than the combined total population of those EU member-states.

I have little doubt that Ukip supporters will denounce my concerns as those of a narrow, liberal, metropolitan, media elite (though I've sadly never been able to identify the membership secretary of this alluring group in order to send a subscription). But look at what Ukip supporters say, and cannot stop themselves from saying.

November 24, 2016 23:25

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