Nigel Farage has destroyed himself and Ukip. He might yet take the whole Eurosceptic movement down too

by Atul Hatwal

When the history of Ukip is written, yesterday, Thursday 12th of March, will go down as the day the bubble burst.

It wasn’t just the banal manner in which Nigel Farage admitted he was a racist in his interview with Trevor Phillips.

To believe in discrimination based on someone’s background, to admit to wanting to scrap anti-discrimination laws and legalise racism, would have been damaging enough.

But it was his blustering, obfuscating and dishonest reaction that made matters so much worse. Claiming he was being “wilfully misrepresented,” when the original interview was widely available and the evidence so stark, was utterly incredible.

Five points are salient for the election campaign and beyond: the impact on Ukip’s brand, the opportunity for the Tories, the reaction of the journalists, the danger for Eurosceptics and the broader lessons for politicians talking about immigration.

First, Farage has injected arsenic into Ukip’s already toxified brand.

It’s hard to imagine who will be convinced to switch their votes to Ukip as a result of his latest intervention. Maybe some of the BNP’s dwindling support will be reassured that Farage is a true racist and peel off to join the purple army.

But many who might have considered Ukip will take fright.

According to a ComRes poll a few weeks ago, 44% already thought that the party was racist. As yesterday’s events percolate into the public consciousness, the number who think Ukip racist will rise to cross 50%.

A leader embodies their party and a vote for them says something about the elector. Not many would like that to be “I am a racist.”

Second, the Tories will exploit this public concern at a local level in towns and cities up and down the country. Smart Tory candidates have already been targeting a specific group in their canvassing – Ukip-Tory switchers – and Nigel Farage’s words will be used to lever wavering ex-Tories back into the fold.

Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling places Ukip in the high teens and low twenties in a slew of marginal seats, from Stockton South to East Basildon and South Thurrock, where Labour and the Tories are neck and neck. If the Tories can convince Ukip supporters who backed them at the last election that Nigel Farage is just too extreme and does not represent them, then Labour’s prospects will suffer.

It’s notable that David Cameron, who spent much of last year copying Farage’s rhetoric, made a point of attacking Ukip’s leader as an extremist.

Third, there’s the reaction of the journalists.

By pretending he hadn’t said that Britain’s anti-racism legislation should be abolished, Nigel Farage was effectively saying that the journalists reporting the story were liars.

No-one likes to be called a liar. Or to be told that they are being duped by LibLabCon. Or that they don’t know how to do their job.

Nigel Farage has form on this: last year he gave an interview to the Guardian where he said that British people should be wary of Romanian families moving onto their street. When challenged about this he denied it, claiming that he’d been talking about gangs of Romanian men, groups of Eastern European criminals and just about any permutation of neighbour except a Romanian family.

For several journalists, yesterday was the final straw. Farage’s ludicrous denials and the tide of bile from his online followers was the point he stepped out of the mainstream and into the Palinverse.

Fourth, yesterday exemplified why Nigel Farage is a liability for the Eurosceptic cause. For all of his beery bonhomie, his judgement is poor, he loves the sound of his own opinions and cannot help but vent.

Given Ukip’s reputation for racism, Nigel Farage’s one goal for the general election campaign was to try, if possible, to neutralise this perception.

Whoops.

Eurosceptics take note: this man will smear your Brexit campaign with the stain of racism because if he can’t maintain discipline in this election, his one chance of office, he certainly won’t during a referendum campaign.

Finally, the way the mask slipped from Farage during his interview with Trevor Phillips holds some broader lessons for politicians and the way that they talk about immigration.

One of the most common phrases recited over this parliament is that it’s not racist to be worried about immigration. It’s not, but the people who shout most loudly and intemperately about it, often are just that.

The sentiments Nigel Farage has volubly expressed about immigration over the past few years were driven by his underlying beliefs. Beliefs that were finally revealed yesterday.

The tenor and substance of Nigel Farage’s speeches on immigration are of a piece with his desire to repeal anti-discrimination legislation and his focus on “British born” workers (as distinct from British citizens).

If Nigel Farage was not a racist but genuinely concerned about immigration, he would sound a lot more like Douglas Carswell.

Yet David Cameron, Ed Miliband and range of their senior colleagues have aped Farage’s tone. They’ve recited the tropes and wilfully trailed after the rhetoric of man who cheerfully admitted he’d like to legalise racism.

For Labour, in the midst of much semi-skimmed Faragisme from Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper, the one member of the shadow cabinet who has understood how to take on Ukip, is Chuka Umunna.

In his interview with the Staggers yesterday, Umunna once again demonstrated the clarity required when facing Ukip,

“We’ve seen the party [Ukip] adopt the old slogan of the BNP. We’ve heard him [Nigel Farage] stating that he feels awkward on the train in the company of people speaking other languages. We’ve seen him get stuck in a traffic jam and immediately seeking to blame immigrants for that…There is a virus of racism running through that party and they don’t appear capable of rooting it as they don’t understand the problem.

The things they say about Eastern Europeans now are no different from the things people used to say about black and Asian immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The coda that Chuka Umunna understood from the start about Nigel Farage is a simple one: if a politician blows the race dog whistle, they’re probably a racist.

After yesterday, it’s a lesson many on both Labour and the Tories’ front bench would do well to learn. Certainly, increasing numbers of voters and journalists will be looking at Nigel Farage in a new, less flattering light.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut


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22 Responses to “Nigel Farage has destroyed himself and Ukip. He might yet take the whole Eurosceptic movement down too”

  1. Tafia says:

    A quick straw pole at work (where everyone that votes, votes either Labour or Plaid) revealed that every single one of them supports what Farage said – that employers should be allowed to choose British people over non-British to fill their vacancies.

    This is part of Labour’s disconnect – it is totally failing to grasp how ordinary people, who earn ordinary wages (below 20K), actually think and what they want. So I’ll tell you (and my how the middle class apparatchiks will shriek). What should be Labour’s core vote wants priority over non-Brits for housing, jobs, school places, NHS dental places, NHS waiting lists etc and doesn’t want non-Brits having access to the benefits system (including housing benefit and tax credits) until they have paid in a significant length of time – somewhere between 2 and 5 years.

    Something else that’s starting to crop up and be mentioned more and more as well – people want some form of law creating that restricts minimum wage to only entry level unskilled jobs, that require no training, have no responsibilities, are strictly weekday daytimes and require no qualifications (such as a driving licence etc). To see jobs advertised at minimum wage requiring a driving licence and vehicle,, previous experience and an NVQ is little short of an insult and is part of the reason wages growth is virtually nil.

  2. wg says:

    Yes, but as an ex-UKIP member and not a Farage fan, who do I, as a white, working class man, vote for.

    As far as I’m concerned positive discrimination (that’s what most anti-discrimination is) has made me a second class person.

  3. John P Reid says:

    I agree with Tafia,
    Auto I normlly agree with what you say
    But case pint, Farage said that British citizens should have first chance of employment over EU workers who’ve come here,
    Unless the British are a race of people, by which most who live in London and are white would be of Spanish, ancestors,with a few from Sweden,the on,y people who could be defined as British,if they were a race,would be those from Wales or Cornwall

    As such the rest of the EU ,would either be of German heredity or if they’re from Eastern Europe, again they would be Scandivanian.

  4. Madasafish says:

    I am not a UKIP supporter. I think their cause is lost.

    But look at the abuse of Human Rights legislation. People – and lawyers – using it as an excuse…to avoid repatriation. Police using it as an excuse not to publish the names of people guilty of sexual assaults.

    Look at the Criminal (in)Justice System. The rights of the person suffering loss are ignored whilst those convicted are subject to a whole panoply of social and other tests to establish what kind of penalties are appropriate. See also the treatment of rape victims in court. See how Sheffield police ignored rape complainants.

    See how the BBC closed its eyes when its presenters had licence to molest people on their premises- over decades.

    See how the Benfits system means somoen coming in to do a job on Minimum Wage is entitled to Tax Cedits .. immediately they start work.

    The systems of the country as they stand are loaded in favour of criminals and those who have contributed nothing but want to get something from the state. Well.. that is how it appears..

    We have heard at nauseam people being called “racist” when their political opinions on immigration differ from the liberal consensus.

    This article is little different..

    After all, if I posted here that “black people abuse the system and use it to turn others against each other in order to get their way” I would be accused or racism. And it would be racism.. I would be stereotyping all black people.

    But a black MP can make such a comment about white people – and get away with no action.

    People are not stupid. The fault lines are obvious.. And shouting “racism” makes them worse.

    I would not be surprised if UKIP’s polling rises after this event..

  5. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha . . .

  6. Delta says:

    Disagree entirely whatever his faults, and they are many Nigel is good at portraying himself with audacity and people have a clear sense of who he is.

    Where as absolutely everything about Labour is a complete deception and not even a good attempt at one.

    Compare Farage with Milliband, the first is kinda what he is, the second does all he can to try and stop people finding out who he is….so where does that leave Labour and its horde of MPs who desperately do not want the people of any group or class to know who they really are….

  7. Rallan says:

    “Nigel Farage has destroyed himself and Ukip.”

    In your dreams.

  8. I think this could not be more wrong. This is another example of a strategy which Farage has used over and over again. He says something outrageous, such as race relations laws should be sacked, and then when asked about it reels it back in and says he was talking about laws regarding who a business can hire. He gets a whole lot of publicity, a lot more than he otherwise would have done, and gets to claim that he is being called a racist for talking about immigration, which is a very real fear to an awful lot of people. He manages to contort the whole affair into the issue of the main parties and the media showing contempt for the concerns of the electorate. And what is more it works.

    Why is he allowed to get away with it? One because the views he expressed are not a million miles away from the views of many people in those East Coast Tory/UKIP marginals like Clacton and second because the minor parties (UKIP and the Greens) are not held to the same standards as the major parties by the electorate principally because they have never broken out of being parties of protest. Farage would have to go a good deal further than this if he wants to offend his audience enough to make them turn away.

  9. Ex labour says:

    I wont be voting UKIP, but I know many, including traditional Labour voters, who will be. However I do have some sympathy for Farage and his treatment by venal journalists and political commentators who seem to have double standards.

    I think what Farage was trying to say is that business is bogged down with all sorts of legislation covering sexism, ageism, racism and just about any other “ism” you care to mention. Most of this is of course imposed by the liberal left thought police after thorough discussion over the Islington dinner tables. Farage, I believe, was making the point that Britain is a multicultural nation and the vast majority of the population understand this and racism and intolerance are predominantly a thing of the past, so why have legislation anymore ? Of course people will always point to examples of intolerance and say we must have laws in place.

    As for the employment side of his argument the point seemed to be that our legislation combined with EU laws and directives mean that an employer can really no longer be prescriptive in whom they want to employ. Saying a person should be male or female, British or Polish, below or above a certain age is illegal.

    Despite what the Labour metro-chatterati think, much of what Farage says strikes a chord with those in areas of high unemployment and with a large influx of immigrants. Many who believe this are the traditional Labour working class voters, and I think this is the reason he is vilified as a racist by the left. Its a blunt force instrument to try to discredit him. I suppose the next logical step is to further demonise him, perhaps by linking him to Jimmy Saville or Rolph Harris.

    Labour is still in love with the EU of course and would further sign away our sovereignty to Europe. My own Labour MP understands this and is vigorously campaigning for a referendum. They have no chance, Miliband and the elite have decided this for us already. Farage is of course hated by the progressive liberals for his forthright but accurate statements on this largely unelected, self indulgent and parasitic quango. Labours answer… just call him a racist who will damage the UK.

    If you want a comparison then look to France. Le Pen’s Front Nationale is now the most popular party who are pushing for a “Frexit” so they can tackle immigration and the EU economic dogma that has created mass unemployment, despite the fact that France has a very good infrastructure and some of the biggest global companies.

    Clearly Labour is rattled by the fact that despite his supposed gaff’s and political incorrectness, the UKIP polling numbers remain stubbornly high. His message resonates with part of Labours core vote which puts Labour in some relative danger at the GE.

    Then we come of course to Atul’s chutzpah and hypocrisy. Wasn’t it Gordon Brown who said “British jobs for British people” in a blatant attempt to con the electorate? Is this racism Atul ? By your Farage standards it surely is.

    Personally I do hope that the Tory – UKIP in-betweeners get scared and return to the Tories. It will probably happen to a greater or lesser extent anyway as the GE approaches, but if Labour continue in this vein it will be they who suffer.

  10. Dave Roberts. says:

    Tafia and WG have got here before me Atwal and I can totally endorse what they say. Ordinary white people are sick and tired of political correctness and the various race equality bodies that have invented racism in order to get themselves big fat salaries.

    For forty years the class of people that made this country and defeated Hitler have been abused and spat on because of the colour of their skin. They have had enough.

    Go and look at http://www.obv.org.uk. It’s the site of Operation Black Vote. What is a black vote. I don’t know but what I do know is if anyone had started an Operation White Vote they would be in prison.

  11. Tafia says:

    Dave Roberts – the argument is not to do with the colour of your skin. It’s to do with nationality. A British asian muslim is British. A white German or a white Australian is a foreigner.

  12. BenM says:

    @Tafia

    “A quick straw pole at work (where everyone that votes, votes either Labour or Plaid) revealed that every single one of them supports what Farage said – that employers should be allowed to choose British people over non-British to fill their vacancies.”

    Funny. I took one too and every single person I spoke to said Farage simply hasn’t got a clue about the subject.

    And I speak to employers, HR and Finance professionals on a daily basis.

  13. Tafia says:

    The next scandal to start erupting in time for May – Roma can marry 12 year olds in their own countries and are doing just that and then moving here as man and wife and no-one is doing anything about it. What’s even worse is these are arranged marriages where the bride is bought and paid for. Apparently what is even worse is the fact that it will actually state on the girl’s passport that she is married (provided they are here legally and have a passport), so the benefits offices will know, the schools they are at will know, landlords will know – because they must all have seen the passport or they in turn are breaking the law – but nobody is doing anything about it.

    “Underage marriage is an issue in Rotherham and we have to tackle that. Part of that is understanding how we tackle it.”

    ‘”We need to get it right – we can’t write off those girls because they are in that community”

    “Officially in Rotherham there are 6,500 Roma gypsies but unofficially it is more like 7,500”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2994377/Roma-gipsy-girls-young-12-forced-live-arranged-marriages.html

  14. John P Reid says:

    Ex labour is right, I know ex labour members ,not only working class ones in Dagenham and Thurrock, but middle class ones in Hornchurch, who’ll be voting Ukip

  15. Carol says:

    Farage has not hurt himself by these comments. The people most likely to vote for him agree. It is almost impossible for Farage to hurt himself; there are millions who can’t stomach the sight or sound of Lib/Lab/Con any longer and are desperate for somewhere to place their vote.

  16. wg says:

    @BenM

    “And I speak to employers, HR and Finance professionals on a daily basis.”

    And there you have it in a nutshell – if Labour are now the party of employers, HR and Finance professionals the C2s and Ds know where they stand.

    You are most probably working in the Public Sector amongst the bodies that are being “weaponised” against us.

  17. Tafia says:

    BenM – “Funny. I took one too and every single person I spoke to said Farage simply hasn’t got a clue about the subject. And I speak to employers, HR and Finance professionals on a daily basis.”

    And therein lies your (and Labour’s) problem. I’m a workplace rep, and funnily enough I speak to ordinary workers all day and every day – not suits. Remember ordinary workers? The sort that earn 15-16K or less? for doing a skilled job.

  18. John P reid says:

    Ben! ,sorry but Tafia,carol,and Wg, make sense

  19. BenM says:

    John P Reid

    Sorry but they don’t make any sense at all.

    I see from Tafia just incoherence and misplaced impotent rage.

    They sound crashingly naive about how business is done.

  20. Tafia says:

    BenM. If you want your core vote to vote for you – give them what they want. If you don’t they’ll go elsewhere – the days of voter loyalty are dying (thank God) and voters shop around now – which is exactly the correct thing to do.

    Incidentally, I had my own business for several years, employed a dozen full and part timers (which makes it bigger than the majority of SMEs) and more casuals as and when. I made a few bob out of it it must be said and actually at the age of 56 I don’t have a financial need to ever work again even though I am means tested out of all benefits because of my two private incomes. I work because I like it.

    I know exactly how business is done – I’ve actually done it. Yourself?

  21. John. P reid says:

    BenM, lol, misplaced rage, if I had walked from the Labour Party 5-12 years ago, as I didn’t think it represented the working class, who aren’t this mythical, socially liberal, non materialistic, a spring to be educated in arty-fatty culture, but the working class want a better future for their families,without having to move away from their families to find jobs, down south, if they wish to earn more than 20k a year, by working all the hours God sends, as even with tax breaks or a welfare state, they’ll always be financial needs the state can’t help with, getting small children to Creshes, working unsocial hours,so not having public transport available to get to work.

    Then ,I’d be angry that the working classs outside of London but in England aren’t represented and that ukip have tapped into a wealth of voters, who if asked would admit, that Ukips views on education or the NHS is abhorrent too them, but, the 3 old parties don’t care about people just wanting to be able to earn enough,so they can pay for the additional costs that we need to survive, but the 3 parties telling the public, that we can increase the economy, by keeping private wages down, as cheap labour will raise taxes, that can be spent on the retail sector, down south yet real jobs disappear elsewhere,

    As I’ve stuck with labour, I’ll be voting labour,knowing we’re gonna lose,and whatever our current policies on the environment,the EU. Lords reform ,may make sense and may have been thought out, these sort of policies are irrelevant to real people’s needs,

    Regarding carols comment,the real point,is that the voters who agree with him, probably aren’t ex Tories, but labour.
    Excluding, whatever people think about Blair, facing war crimes at The Hague,
    Yesterday Blair said labour should be pro immigration even if it costs us votes, he was successful enough in 2001 to argue this and still win,if we take his advice now, then it would be noble,if he really thinks immigration doesn’t create cheap labour, but I’ve yet to hear his explanation for this, the real question is,why would socialists,sime who thought Thatcher in strikes in the 80’s now back a party lead bye ultra Thatcherite,

    Immigration doesn’t only cause cheap labour, if not divided,sees areas, not having enough room on buses, not enough homes, or school places,and not enough hospital beds When the NHS is pushed to breaking point as it is,

  22. southern voter says:

    I am afraid Labour has abandoned its core working class voters and is now reaping its reward.Many working class voters will vote for other parties or not at all.Labour is the party which has breathed life into fringe parties like UKIP by failing to control migration from the EU and the rest of the world.Migration from the EU has affected opportunities for working class voters to advance in life in a negative way.But the elite who lead Labour cannot see this.

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