The Holocaust survivor who's on the political front line


A group of anti-Ukip protesters hit the headlines last month when Nigel Farage labelled them “scum” after they forced him to flee his local pub.

The Ukip leader was angry that he the incident had taken place while he was out eating Sunday lunch with his family.

Present in the village of Downe in Kent that day was Ruth Barnett, an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor and grandmother, who is a member of the Beyond Ukip group. She was there to protest against the party's policies, but was not involved in the incident with Mr Farage.

She was not present a few days later when Beyond Ukip members were forced to barricade themselves into a meeting hall in the City of London as far-right activists from the Britain First movement attacked them in retaliation for the anti-Ukip protest.

She said she had been appalled by the attack. “I go to meetings held by the group often. It was just chance that I was not at this one. When I heard about it I was horrified. It’s truly outrageous and it looked very frightening.”

So why does Mrs Barnett, who arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport when she was four years old and now lives in north London, continue to put herself potentially in harm’s way for the sake of politics?

She said: “As a Jew I don’t think I can speak out about the rise in antisemitism without speaking out about the rise in other intolerances and I think Ukip and others are stirring up hatred towards immigrants. It seems we are still not learning the lessons of the Holocaust.

“Beyond Ukip are passionate about standing up for vulnerable minority groups. It is fun and exciting to be around such young and passionate people.

“I was a vulnerable minority group as a child and I’ve spent my life protesting and campaigning for similar groups.”

She said the demonstration in Downe had been “vibrant and peaceful". She did not see some of the protesters jump on the bonnet of Mr Farage's car as he drove away, but said she did not support their actions."I don’t condone what happened with the car — they obviously just got a bit excited,” she said.

The threat of further attacks from extremists such as Britain First would not deter her.

“They won’t stop me speaking out. It doesn’t matter how frightening their hostility gets. It is our job as human beings to stand up for the vulnerable.”

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